11/27/2007 04:13 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Optimistic for Success at Annapolis

For decades we have witnessed countless disturbing reports and pictures of the devastating conflict and violence between the Israeli and Palestinian people. The Middle East Peace Summit taking place today in my home State of Maryland is symbolic of the hope and courage being exercised by Israelis and Palestinians as both parties try to reach a fair compromise and bring an end to this painful and emotional struggle. I commend all parties who have gathered today to offer their support to this very important cause. Stability in the Middle East -- whether in this particular conflict or the one Iraq -- hinges on the support of multilateral and bilateral initiatives in the region.

It has always been clear that any success in finding peace amidst this turmoil would depend on the unabashed support of the international community -- including a major role played by the United States. When George W. Bush assumed the presidency, he introduced a 'Road Map for Peace' in the Middle East. While this outline to find peace initially showed promise, it failed to yield substantive long-term results as President Bush neglected to assume the critical position of driving the region to the final destination on the map. In fact, he never even got into the bus. This peace process has been stalled for seven long years, in part because the Bush Administration neglected to give it the high priority that was both necessary and deserved.

Any efforts to bring together the leaders of this region for the purpose of realizing peace in this conflict are encouraging signs of progress. Such progress is worthy of the time and focus of our nation's leaders, both in an effort to advance our policies of promoting peace throughout the world and in our ability to succeed in our mission in Iraq. It should be noted that the Iraq Study Group has acknowledged that dealing directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict is essential to achieving regional stability.

In recent years, the moral authority of our nation has been greatly diminished. The importance of restoring our credibility cannot be emphasized enough. I am pleased with President Bush's apparent decision at this late hour to take the lead in bringing about a fair and lasting peace -- a move that may help put us on the path toward achieving this vital goal.

I am truly optimistic that the summit in Annapolis will result in substantive resolutions to initiate the arduous journey toward peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people. The U.S. absolutely must continue its newfound efforts to actively facilitate discussion, progress, and success on this journey. I hope that when a new President assumes office in 2009, the continuation of these efforts will begin on the first day, not the eleventh hour.