Associated Press: Dozens Rally at Peace Summit

[Emphasis added below to highlight OV message, juxtaposed to other organizations mentioned below]


ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — More than a hundred activists demonstrated Tuesday outside the gates of the U.S. Naval Academy, offering their own very public take on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute as representatives of more than 50 nations and organizations met inside to chart a course toward a peace pact by the end of next year.

The rallies ran the gamut from a costumed protester mocking Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to a peace activist who was hopeful the talks would foster further peace negotiations such as those outlined by President Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"We need to make sure that their voices can be heard thousands of miles away," said Erin Pineda of One Voice Movement, which supports Israeli-Palestinian efforts leading to a Palestinian state.

Conservative and liberal Jewish activists, Palestinians, Christians and others planned demonstrations throughout the day outside the academy’s closed main gate and at other locations in the historic Chesapeake Bay city.

The demonstrations in chilly, blustery downtown Annapolis were lightly attended compared with the tens of thousands of Palestinians in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip who rallied Tuesday in opposition to the conference. In the West Bank city of Hebron, Palestinian police loyal to Abbas violently dispersed a demonstration against the summit, killing one protester, medical officials said.

The one-day Annapolis conference was officially announced only a week in advance. The tight schedule and short notice made it difficult for interest groups to rally large numbers of people.

The events began with a rally by Jewish Americans opposed to the conference. "No peace with terrorists," they chanted. Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld of the Coalition of Jewish Concerns-Amcha said the summit amounted to a reward for terrorists. He said the Bush administration was "playing games with the innocent blood of the men and women of Israel."

Liz Houricane, dressed as a prison inmate and wearing a giant papier-mache mask of Rice, said the conference should have included representatives of Hamas, an Islamic militant group.

The summit "is really symbolic, more than anything," said Houricane, a member of Code Pink, a group formed in opposition to the Iraq war. She said Rice should be in jail for supporting the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Danielle Greene of Falls Church, Va., said the summit was meant to make the Bush administration look good. She said nothing would come of such an event until the United States accepts Hamas and Hezbollah, the Lebanese umbrella organization of radical Islamic Shiite groups that is a bitter foe of Israel.

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