Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Birthday greetings from the QE2 Conference Centre in Westminster, where I'm covering the snappily-titled London Meeting 2005 Supporting the Palestinian Authority.

The meeting opened with the usual historic-sounding pronouncements by Tony Blair and Mahmoud Abbas.

In reality, however, today is a textbook example of the choreography of international diplomacy. It's an opportunity for politicians to look good on camera and send out the right signals to the wider world rather than hold in-depth discussions.

Just look at the schedule.

The issue of governance gets 35 minutes. 25 minutes are allotted for economic development. The key issue surrounding Palestinian reform -- security -- gets a whopping 40 minutes.

It goes without saying that little of substance can be thrashed out in such short timescales.

But that's not the point of this meeting.

All the real work has already been done behind the scenes. Civil servants have already agreed on the structures designed to build the institutions of a viable Palestinian state. Documents have been drafted and circulated, communiques written and rewritten.

The meeting itself is about shaking hands for the cameras and uttering carefully crafted soundbites for the evening news bulletins.


Blogger vanillasky said...

Happy Birthday! Hope it's been a good one.

6:57 PM  

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