The New York Times, in a Nov. 27, 2007 article titled, "Framework for Mideast Peace Talks Set at Conference," described the openning of the Annapolis Middle-East Peace Conference, and the historic importance of the conference:
"President Bush today announced an agreement by Israeli and Palestinian leaders to work toward a peace pact by the end of 2008.
Flanked by the two leaders, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Mr. Bush congratulated them for agreeing to follow a 'road map to a permanent two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.'
'We agree to engage in vigorous, ongoing and continuous negotiations and shall make every effort to conclude an agreement before the end of 2008,' Mr. Bush said...
But the 'joint understanding,' as it was called, merely creates a framework for talks, and does not address the fundamental issues between Israel and a future Palestine, including Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the final borders of a Palestinian state, the status of Jerusalem, and the fate of Palestinian refugees who left, or were forced to leave, their homes in Israel.
The agreement was reached after weeks of intense negotiations and it was not clear until Mr. Bush stepped to the podium in the majestic Memorial Hall at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis that the two sides would come together, or how they would reach their goal of peace.
After the two Middle Eastern leaders shook hands at the podium, Mr. Abbas outlined the issues the two sides would take up in planned biweekly meetings, scheduled to begin December 12...
The gathering at the United States Naval Academy included delegations representing 49 countries and international organizations, and it brought about the highest-level official contacts between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which do not have diplomatic relations." Nov. 27, 2007 New York Times
Joint Israeli-Palestinian Statement Read by President George Bush at Annapolis Middle-East Peace Conference, Nov. 27, 2007
"The representatives of the government of the State of Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization, represented respectively by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Mahmoud Abbas, in his capacity as chairman of the PLO executive committee and president of the Palestinian Authority, have convened in Annapolis, Maryland, under the auspices of President George W. Bush of the United States of America, and with the support of the participants of this international conference having concluded the following joint understanding:
We express our determination to bring an end to bloodshed, suffering and decades of conflict between our peoples; to usher in a new era of peace, based on freedom, security, justice, dignity, respect and mutual recognition; to propagate a culture of peace and nonviolence; to confront terrorism and incitement, whether committed by Palestinians or Israelis.
In furtherance of the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, we agree to immediately launch good-faith bilateral in order to conclude a peace treaty resolving all outstanding issues, including all core issues without exception, as specified in previous agreements.
We agree to engage in vigorous, ongoing and continuous negotiations and shall make every effort to conclude an agreement before the end of 2008.
For this purpose, a steering committee led jointly be the head of the delegation of each party will meet continuously as agreed.
The steering committee will develop a joint work plan and establish and oversee the work of negotiations teams to address all issues, to be headed by one lead representative from each party.
The first session of the steering committee will be held on 12 December, 2007.
President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert will continue to meet on a biweekly basis to follow up the negotiations in order to offer all necessary assistance for their advancement.
The parties also commit to immediately implement their respective obligations under the performance-based road map to a permanent two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict issued by the quartet on 30 April, 2003" - this is called the road map - "and agree to form an American, Palestinian and Israeli mechanism led by the United States to follow up on the implementation of the road map.
The parties further commit to continue the implementation of the ongoing obligations of the road map until they reach a peace treaty. The United States will monitor and judge the fulfillment of the commitment of both sides of the road map.
Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, implementation of the future peace treaty will be subject to the implementation of the road map, as judged by the United States." Nov. 27, 2007 Joint Israeli-Palestinian Statement at Annapolis(PDF) 8.94 KB