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Monday, June 02, 2008

'So we won't reach a deal in 2008'

Before leaving for Washington tomorrow, Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert met with 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen. By all accounts, the meeting did not go well. Now that Olmert is angry at the Left (the police and the prosecution this country are branches of the Left) for going after his relationship with American businessman Morris (Moshe) Talansky, Olmert seems to have found his spine in his dealings with the 'Palestinians' - at least for now. Especially so long as he has to build in Jerusalem to keep Shas in his coalition.
On Monday morning, Abbas said that settlement expansion was the principle obstacle that stood in the way of a permanent agreement. "If Israel doesn't cease construction, we will have difficulty arriving at a peace agreement," he said, adding that there were still large gaps between both sides in the negotiations.

During the meeting, Olmert addressed this concern in vague terms, telling his Palestinian counterpart that "Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem will stay in Israel's hands."

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters after the meeting that Abbas "launched a very strong protest with the prime minister" and unsuccessfully asked him to halt construction in disputed areas.

"We really believe that the continuation of the Israeli settlement activities undermines our efforts to achieve an agreement before the end of 2008, and undermines the efforts being exerted by many parties in order to move the peace process forward," Erekat said.

Also during the hour, the prime minister told Abbas that Israel was displeased with a letter sent by PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OCED), in which Fayad said that the group should not accept Israel as a member.

"This kind of thing harms the relationship between the PA and Israel," Olmert said. "This is aggressive behavior which is reminiscent of the behavior of the Palestinian Authority from the past."

Erekat said Fayad "demanded not to promote Israel because it does not abide by the peace process."

The PA president, for his part, expressed hope that efforts to achieve a Gaza truce that had "recently become complicated" would lead to positive results.
There's not going to be an agreement - shelf or otherwise - in 2008. Here are some reasons why:

1. Olmert is trying to maintain himself in power. To do that, he cannot make concessions on Jerusalem. The 'Palestinians' won't make a deal without Jerusalem.

2. If Olmert leaves office, there will be new elections, in which case we will likely have elections at the same time as the United States. It is unlikely that anyone else will be able to form a government because Shas will not go in a coalition led by Livni, Meretz has much fewer votes than Shas, and no one will make these kinds of decisions in a coalition that is dependent on the Arab parties (who between them have ten seats).

3. If Olmert leaves office and there are new elections and a caretaker government, the caretaker government is most unlikely (though it's not impossible) to take major steps like an agreement with the 'Palestinians.'

The same goes for the Syrians.

And because of the developments in Israel, George Bush is off the hook for promising a deal by the end of 2008.


At 10:10 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

That's my view. Ehud Olmert is angry at the Israeli Left for trying to drive him from power and he will use what time he has left in office to undermine their cherished aim of dealing a body blow to Israel's National Religious Zionist movement. It was a sheer miscalculation and the opening of an investigation into Morris Talansky's ties with him did nothing to move the Prime Minister in their direction. All it has accomplished is doing the opposite and no one who succeeds Olmert is likely to indebted to the police, the prosecution and the judiciary because they will be the next PM's enemies also, as every one in Israel understands they are unelected tools of the Left to remove Israeli governments from power of which it does not approve. So for that and other reasons, there will be no peace deal this year.


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