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Monday, August 06, 2007

Olmert and Abu Mazen meet in Jericho while Rajoub meets with Hamas

Israel's 3% 'Prime Minister,' Ehud K. Olmert, and 'moderate' 'Palestinian President' Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen met today in Jericho to create a 'Palestinian' reichlet plan for Israel's national suicide. At the same time, Abu Mazen's close adviser, Jibril Rajoub, was meeting with Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad, ostensibly behind Abu Mazen's back.
"I came here in order to discuss with you the fundamental issues outstanding between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, hoping that this will lead us soon into negotiations about the creation of a Palestinian state," Olmert said at the outset of the talks.

During their meeting Monday at the InterContinental Hotel in Jericho, Olmert and Abbas were set to push ahead in achieving maximum progress in negotiations aimed at preparing for the regional summit planned to take place in Washington this November.

"The purpose is to achieve the maximum possible mutual understandings on a two-state solution prior to the summit in the fall and in a way that will not endanger the entire process," a senior political source in Jerusalem said Sunday. The aim is to stabilize Abbas' rule in the West Bank so that the PA will be able to carry out its commitments, particularly on the security front.

Abbas and Olmert picked up where their previous talks, initiated at their meeting in Jerusalem two weeks ago, left off. The talks focused on the "Agreement of Principles."


"The Palestinians hoped the two leaders would sketch the outlines of a final peace deal, to be presented to the U.S. conference," Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Monday.

David Baker, an official in Olmert's office, said however that the core issues would not be discussed during Monday's meeting.

The leaders would discuss humanitarian aid to the Palestinians and Israeli security concerns, as well as the institutions of a future Palestinian state, Baker said.

Baker said the meeting is a signal of Israeli good will, adding that Olmert intends for this to be a productive meeting to enable progress with the Palestinians.

Both sides said the meeting would also deal with easing daily life in the West Bank, including the removal of some of the checkpoints erected after the outbreak of the second Intifada in 2000.

The meeting between the two leaders was to be restricted to the press and photographs were allowed only at the beginning.
In the meantime, 'Palestinian' 'Prime Minister' Salam Fayyad said that the 'Palestinians' are 'not yet ready' to impose law and order on the Arab-populated cities and towns of Judea and Samaria:
The Palestinian Authority's security organizations are unable to assume security control of cities in the West Bank, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad told senior Israeli officials during recent meetings. Fayad told Israeli officials that the PA's security forces are unable "to impose law and order in the West Bank at this time."

During meetings with senior Israeli officials, the interim Palestinian prime minister and his interior minister, Abd al-Razek al-Yihiya, made it clear that the PA's security cannot at this time assume control of West Bank cities. Among those to whom this message was conveyed recently was Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin.

Originally, Fayad and al-Yihiya made the transfer of some West Bank cities to PA security control one of their prime requests of Israel. Israel did not immediately reject the request, but asked that the PA security forces be prepared to take action against any militants who may try to carry out a terror attack against Israel from areas in which Israel would surrender security control.

However, Palestinian security commanders admitted before the PA leadership that their forces are not currently capable of preventing terrorist attacks against Israel, or, as Israel defines it, of "combatting terrorism."

Fayad told Israel that the PA's security forces are unable to "impose law and order in the West Bank at this time."
At the same time, Abu Mazen's close adviser Jibril Rajoub is meeting with Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad behind Abu Mazen's back to discuss a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation:
Broad influential circles in Fatah, led by Jibril and Hanni al-Hassan, criticize as shortsighted and destined to be short-lived Abbas’ policy of separating the West Bank from Gaza and boycotting Hamas.

This falling away of support for Abbas in his own movement throws further in doubt the US-Israeli strategy of putting all their Palestinian apples in his West Bank basket, as manifested in American dollars and Israeli concessions on security.
And it's not just Abu Mazen who is facing 'internal opposition':
DEBKAfile learns that Olmert too faces opposition within his government. Defense minister Ehud Barak has distanced himself from his pro-Fatah Palestinian track. At meetings with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week, the defense minister was noncommittal on this issue, commenting that it was in the prime minister’s hands. Privately, Barak believes Olmert is overplaying his association with Abbas - most of all to shore up his own flagging leadership at home. The minister is therefore biding his time until the tactic breaks down.

The dim view of the process held in the defense ministry and IDF command found expression in the briefing military intelligence research chief Brig. Gen. Yossi Baidatz gave the Knesset foreign affairs and security committee Sunday, Aug. 5. The West Bank was the next Fatah-Hamas arena of conflict, he said, and Fatah has no chance of standing up to Hamas there, any more than it did in Gaza. Abbas’ forces are completely dependent on the Israeli army to keep Hamas in check, he said.
Fayyad essentially admitted the same thing when he said that Fatah cannot control Judea and Samaria (see above). And according to DEBKA, Secretary Rice was told during her trip here that the charade of ignoring Hamas is not going to last much longer:
1. Hamas’ West Bank leaders are languishing either in Israeli jails or the prison run by the Palestinian intelligence chief Tawfiq Tirawi. But, according to DEBKAfile’s military sources, the field guns of Hamas’ terror networks are at large and busy creating new commands. They enjoy considerable popularity on the Palestinian street, whereas Abbas and his prime minister are seen as American-Israeli puppets.

2. Egyptian leaders promised Rice last week to go along with the US boycott of Hamas for now, but plan to resume relations in November. [Egypt is the third largest recipient of American foreign aid. CiJ]

3. Saudi leaders were tougher. They informed the US Secretary that as long as Washington backed Fatah against Hamas, it need not look to Riyadh for support on the Palestinian question. Abdullah stood by his policy of Palestinian reconciliation and power-sharing and made no promises regarding President Bush’s international conference next autumn in Washington.

4. The Europeans agree with the Bush administration that Hamas must be made to recognize Israel and accept previous agreements, but warn against discounting the Islamic movement’s political clout. They also point out that Hamas was voted in through a free and democratic election.
So someone remind me again why Olmert and Abu Mazen met today? Ah yes, a photo opportunity for two floundering 'leaders.' Well, the photo is at the top of this post.

Scott at Power Line has some interesting comments on this story as well; you can find them here.


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