- The Washington Times - Monday, November 26, 2007

D.C. police say they will use rolling street closures today to protect and help move diplomats attending the first day of the Middle East peace talks.

Metropolitan Police Department Officer Junis Fletcher said yesterday the agency will close streets only “as they are needed.” However, the Annapolis Police Department is closing several city streets tomorrow, when diplomats from across the world come to the U.S. Naval Academy for the second day of the expected two-day summit.

Three streets will be closed starting at 7 a.m. in downtown Annapolis, along the west side of the Academy, which could cause some commuter delays, especially for those with work at the state Capitol.

The summit also will affect people traveling by air and water.

The Federal Aviation Administration tomorrow is keeping commercial and private flights away 2 nautical miles horizontally and 4,000 feet vertically from the Academy. The restriction will be in place from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., according to the agency’s Web site.

With its shore along the Severn River and its expansive City Dock, Annapolis is considered among the most-popular sailing ports in the country. However, Coast Guard officials today will likely impose restrictions on traveling near the mouth of the river.

The Academy campus will be closed today and tomorrow to general visitors, school officials said.

The closed Annapolis streets are King George, from Maryland Avenue to Gate One, the academy’s main visitor entrance; Randall, from Prince George to Gate One; and East, from Martin to King George. East will reopen at 3 p.m.

The tight security in Annapolis already forced the cancellation of one event.

A march to an interfaith rally was called off yesterday because police did not have extra personnel needed along the route, organizers said they were told.

Marchers had planned to walk from Temple Beth Shalom to a World War II memorial overlooking the Academy but instead took school buses.

“As you can see, the march didn’t happen, but that is a police decision and not a synagogue decision,” Rabbi Ari Goldstein of Temple Beth Shalom told participants at the memorial.

However, Anne Arundel County police monitored the flow of traffic at the memorial.

“This conference is putting tremendous strain on the local security establishment,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of the Israel Project, which helped prepare for the event. “To have so many world leaders coming here, it’s quite a strain.”

Annapolis spokesman Ray Weaver said all public works projects have been suspended through tomorrow.

Officials have said little about security measures since President Bush officially announced the summit Tuesday, except that federal, state and local authorities have been coordinating and planning for weeks.

“Diplomatic Security, along with the Secret Service and all the people working on the arrangements for Annapolis, have been working very closely with state and local officials on the planning for this conference,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said last week. “I’m sure that there are probably going to be some disruptions. … But we are doing everything we can to make sure that any disruptions are minimal.”

Several protests are planned this week.

Shalom International and the Coalition to Defend Jerusalem have scheduled rallies for today and tomorrow outside the Academy’s Gate One entrance from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. A group called the Knesset Israel congregation is expected to provide kosher food.

Members of the Americans for a Safe Israel group are expected to come from New York City to join the protest tomorrow in Annapolis.

People attending Christian services yesterday in the Academy chapel were urged to pray for a successful summit.

“It’s a great moment for us,” said Capt. Pete McGeory, the Catholic chaplain. “It’s historic, and we hope and pray that things do work out well.”

At the peace rally yesterday, more than 100 people gathered at the World War II memorial. Imam Mohamed Arafa, president of the Islamic Society of Annapolis, prayed that political leaders will commit themselves to the peace process.

“I dream that Annapolis will be a role model to how Jews, Christians and Muslims and other faiths can live in peace together,” he told participants.

The Rev. William Hathaway of the First Presbyterian Church told the crowd it was the job of preachers to announce a vision for “righteousness like an ever-flowing stream,” but it was a politician’s job “to work out the plumbing.”

“It is not easy, but we share the vision, and we share the prayers, and we call upon our political leaders to follow that vision and that prayer so that we can have just, secure lives for Israelis and for Palestinians,” Mr. Hathaway said.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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