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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Saudis not on board for 'peace conference' yet, but Olmert wants to 'finesse' them

DEBKA confirms this morning what those of us who have watched the evolving translation of yesterday's statement by Saudi foreign minister al-Faisal already knew: the Saudis aren't on board yet for President Bush's 'peace conference.'
King Abdullah said he might send delegates to sit alongside Israeli officials at the international peace conference President Bush projects for the autumn, only his conditions were stiff if not prohibitive: The agenda must cover practical steps for Israel’s full withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines, repatriation of the 1948 Palestinian refugees and the foundation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem its capital.
And that's not all according to DEBKA. The Saudis want the US to deal with Hamas, they're opposed to sanctions on Iran - let alone a strike on its nuclear plants - they oppose the al-Maliki government in Iraq, and they are willing to accept US weapons, provided they include the new F-22 fighter jet which the Pentagon has forbidden for export.

That probably explains why in this morning's JPost, yesterday's statement by Saudi Foreign Minister al-Faisal is translated differently than it was yesterday. Yesterday, the statement was translated as
"When we get an invitation from the minister (Rice) to attend, when this takes place, we will discuss it and we will make sure that we attend"
while today it is translated as
"When we get an invitation from the minister [Rice] to attend, when this takes place, we will study it and we will be keen to attend."
But Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert, who sees the 'conference' as a potential savior of his political career, and who knows that a Saudi presence will make a very different conference than one with only Jordan and Egypt, is willing to pay any price for the Saudis to be there.
Bush also said countries would be invited to the meeting who "recognize Israel's right to exist," something Saudi Arabia has never done.

Israeli diplomatic officials said Wednesday night that this issue could be "finessed."
Why should it be 'finessed'? If the Saudis want to play in the 'peace process,' let them step up to the plate and declare their peaceful intent by recognizing Israel's 'right to exist'!

But the desperate Olmert will give away anything to save his political neck. Including Israel's very existence.

DEBKA sums up:
Attempts to present Saudi Arabia as a moderate Arab nation backing the moderate Abbas regime in Ramallah, so as to place Israeli aid in an inter-Arab context, are misleading, to put it mildly. Not a single Saudi dollar has reached the exchequer in Ramallah; neither will it, until such time as Abbas buries the hatchet with Hamas and heals the breach caused by the Islamist group’s anti-Fatah coup in Gaza last month.
And arrogant Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert could care less whether the Saudis are 'moderate' or not - so long as they rescue his political career.


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