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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Saudis to Bush: 'Forget the three conditions and if you won't finance Hamas we will'

Ahead of today's Mecca reconciliation summit between Fatah and Hamas, the Saudis have notified the Bush administration that Hamas will not accept at least two of the three conditions that the 'quartet' has set for recognition of the Hamas-led government. Hamas will not accept past agreements between Fatah and Israel. And it won't recognize Israel. Nevertheless, the Saudis told the United States, if you don't lift the embargo, we will provide Hamas with all they 'need.' Estimated cost: about $1 billion per year.
In a flurry of briefings to senior administration officials in Washington, Saudi diplomats are explaining the following:

Riyadh has achieved most US foreign policy goals, especially the effective removal of Hamas from high office. The new Palestinian government will be headed by a neutral figure in place of Ismail Haniye and the key portfolios will pass to Fatah or independents. Washington is therefore advised not to make an issue of the Palestinian coalition’s non-recognition of Israel and past peace accords, or of the fact that Hamas will hold a majority in the new cabinet.

American officials have not so far reacted to the Saudi initiative.

They are waiting to see how the Mecca summit turns out and the application of the documents signed there by Meshaal and Mahmoud Abbas on the ground in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

The Saudi government is ready to go with a huge campaign to sell the Mecca accords in Europe and Israel. It will aim to persuade the European Union to remove its economic embargo against the Palestinian government, without waiting for Washington, while also stirring up domestic pressure in Israel for acceptance of the Mecca agreement and consent to start negotiations with Hamas. The Saudis hope this campaign in Israel will be more effective than the drive for talks with Syria.

The Saudi correspondence mentions no strings attached to its economic assistance; there is no mention of any break of Hamas ties with Iran, a stoppage of the flow of Iranian weapons and cash to the Gaza Strip, or the evacuation of Iranian and Hizballah officers. Hamas therefore stands to come away from Mecca in triumph, with a Saudi-endorsed majority in the new Palestinian government, an assured cash flow from Saudi Arabia as well as Iran, and nothing to stop the continuation of military aid from Tehran and Hizballah as their investment in Hamas preparations for war with Israel.
And the clueless government of Israel will do nothing to try to stop this juggernaut.


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