It's the little things that always tell the tale...
When the cameras begin snapping pictures and beaming images around the world of the coming Annapolis Middle East Summitt, one picture that won't be taken will be that of anyone from the Saudi delegation shaking hands with an Israeli:
Saudi Arabia's participation in the U.S.-sponsored talks on Middle East peace was seen as a diplomatic coup for the Bush administration but the kingdom has made clear there will be no handshakes with Israeli officials. It's a good thing Olmert has a thick skin. Personally, I don't care if the Saudis shake hands or not. But I find it rather interesting that they would go out of their way to announce the slight, thus embarrassing Bush and Olmert before the conference even begins.
"We are not here for theater. We are here for the serious business of making peace. We are not here to give an impression that everything is normal," Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told reporters on Monday, on the eve of the conference to be held in Annapolis, Maryland. "We will not do anything that will divert from the seriousness of the occasion, (such as) shaking hands to give an impression of something that is not there," he said.
Saudi Arabia had been noncommittal until last week over whether it would attend the Annapolis conference. The kingdom, which is the birthplace of Islam, has no diplomatic relations with Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert suggested he would not be offended by the lack of handshake, nor would he push the issue.
I guess it's also a sign of just how far away peace between the Israelis and Arabs truly is.