Friday, March 30, 2007

DEBKAfile Reports: Before Leaving, Condoleezza Rice Sells Israeli PM Ehud Olmert Her Middle East Initiative for Israel-Arab Talks Based on Arab Summit

The following article from the DEBKA Report aptly sums-up the overall insanity of the Israeli-Palestinian "piece" talks, over this past month.

DEBKAfile reports: Before Leaving, Condoleezza Rice Sells Israeli PM Ehud Olmert Her Middle East Initiative for Israel-Arab Talks Based on Arab Summit Resolutions

March 27, 2007, 9:04 AM (GMT+02:00)

Earlier Monday, the US secretary of state called off the Monday night press conference to launch her initiative. Instead, she held a second round of talks with Olmert to overcome his objections. He finally succumbed to the creation of a US-Arab-Israeli mechanism forace talks based on the resolutions reached at the Arab League summit convening in Riyadh March 28-29.
The summit will approve the Saudi peace plan without any of the modifications requested by Israel.

Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni, whom Rice met earlier in the day, spent hours hammering the phrasing for presenting their concession to the US secretary, without being seen to have abandoned the Middle East roadmap, which is the central plank of this Israeli government’s foreign and peace policy.

They agreed that this was not the time for final-status talks, and that Rice would term the Israel-Arab diplomatic track a preface to the roadmap’s implementation. The US secretary argued that Israel has nothing to lose by engaging Arab representatives and would only improve its image. Olmert asked for the encounters to take place at the senior level of foreign ministers, in order to convince the public that his government had not been browbeaten into a concession contrary to national interests. But Rice could not make this promise. US-Israeli discussion on the framework for Israeli and Arab delegates to meet will continue.

But in Riyadh, meanwhile, the preliminary conference of Arab foreign ministers has already determined the mechanism and forum for the talks with Israel. They have opted for the UN Security Council and Middle East Quartet as sponsors, convinced that both bodies are powerful enough to impose a settlement on Israel. The US Secretary informed Olmert that she does not support this demand.

Regarding the Saudi peace plan, Israeli opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu rejected the clause calling for the return of Palestinian refugees as a threat to Israel’s existence.

Arab foreign ministers drafting summit resolutions demanded the refugees’ return to their pre-1948 homes and rejected any prospect of settling Palestinian refugees in any Arab state. They also demanded the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

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