Tag Archives: Olmert

Abbas Says No To Provisional Palestinian State

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas made it clear that during the recent Annapolis conference he turned down flat any discussion of creating a Palestinian state with provisional borders. “There was talk about a state with provisional borders. We reject provisional borders, because there (borders) will be final.” At the conclusion of the Annapolis conference, Abbas and Olmert made a jooint declaration whose second step of the three stage roadmap called for “creating an independent Palestinian state with provisional borders and attributes of sovereignty.” It now appears that Abbas is rejecting what he agreed to at Annapolis. He also said it would be impossible to recognize Israel as a “Jewish state” because 1.5 million Arabs live in that nation. President Abbas made clear to Hamas leaders there would be no talks unless Hamas relinquishes control over Gaza which they seized several months ago.

There apparently is considerable confusion regarding what delegates agreed to at Annapolis. Regardless of whether or not President Abbas is correct in rejecting the concept of “provisional borders” it is clear Annapolis was a mismanaged affair in which failure to have a clear agenda has resulted in considerable misinterpretations. This writer believes it is time for the United States to get out of this entire situation due to our ineptness and the lack of trust felt by Muslims towards President Bush. We suggest asking Turkey to assume the role of mediator and to organize future meetings between Israel and the Palestinians. Turkey has excellent relations with both Israel and Arabs. Perhaps, a fresh face might lead to fresh hopes.

Annapolis Success– We Can Debate Process, Not Substance!

Ghassan Khatib, writing in the Cairo Daily News points out that even those who had limited expectations about the Annapolis conference were disappointed by its failure. The two sides failed to make any political progress toward agreement, to agree on even what they would discuss at future meetings, or what even are the end goals of the process. The only thing everyone agreed upon is the necessity of having a process in place. This had led, according to Khatib, to cover up the lack “of substantial political progress by exaggerating the process itself.” He makes a contrast between Annapolis which accomplished absolutely nothing but is considered a success by the Bush people while Clinton’s 200 Camp David negotiations actually made some limited progress and it is viewed as a failure. Khatib regards the conference as “useful to Israel” since Olmert can come across as being a recognized leader, and it allowed America to dominate negotiation in the Middl East. He also believes the person most damaged by the conference was President Abbas. “He will be faced with..blame, including from some of his closes aides and members of his delegation for the failure of Annapolis, including the decision to sign onto the poor joint statement that was read at the end by US President George Bush.” Khatib believes Arabs are justifiably furious at the Bush statement that Israel is “the state of the Jewish people.” This is regarded by many Arabs as insulting to the Arab Israelis.

What will happen in the coming months when there is no progress on the Israel-Palestinian conflict? has Bush or his underlings considered that possibility? Was any thought given to the importance of some agreement that both sides could cite as evidence negotiations can be successful? This writer believes the United States should withdraw from serving as a mediator and turn that responsibility over to Turkey. The Turkish government has excellent relations with both Israel and the Arab world. They are trusted by both sides. George Bush has absolutely no trust among Arab peoples.

Prime Minister Olmert Offers Confusing Message About Syria

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered a confusing explanation regarding prospects for peace between his nation and Syria. He told the Israeli newspaper, Yedio Ahronot, that is was his insistence which led to Syria being invited to Annapolis even though Bush opposed the invitation. Olmert said the Bush administration is very concerned about Syria’s action in Lebanon and it will never abandon Lebanon in their struggle against Syria. “We are a ware that Syrians will not get involved in peace talks unless the Americans changed their stance toward them…And, for establishing normal ties with Syria, the Americans will have to betray Lebanon, and the George Bush administration is not willing to do so.”

The nation of Israel should be focusing on establishing ties with Syria and finally resolving the Golan Heights dispute. It is unclear why George Bush should be interfering in a valid approach to dealing with Middle Eastern issues. The Israel government got sucked into the Iraq fiasco because they blindly followed the Bush lead, and now it is important for Israel to be concerned with their own self interests, not those of a man who simply lacks any understanding of the complexities of Middle Eastern life. Of course, all parties should defend Lebanon’s right to determine its own self interests, but America must cease interfering in legitimate opportunities to resolve problems.

What Exactly Was Agreed On At Annapolis? Confusion Exists!

The confusing tangle regarding West Bank settlements continues to baffle all participants since apparently Palestinian leaders have a completely different interpretation from what the Israel believes was agreed upon at Annapolis. To add to mass confusion, no one appears clear at this point as to the position of President Bush. State Department spokesperson, Sean McCormack told reporters “I’m not going to get into interpretations at this point.” He said what was agreed upon at Annapolis will “play out over time” and eventually all parties will finally understand the exact nature of what they thought was a final understanding. Although both sides agreed to follow the road map, President Bush “changed the obligations that are spelled out in the road map,” according to former US Ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk.

The key issue that supposedly all accepted centered on expansion of West Bank settlements. The Palestinians assume Israel agreed to suspend future expansion of West Bank settlements since Bush stated his goal was “ending settlement expansion.” However, the government of Ehud Olmert’s interpretation is Israel can proceed to build further housing units as long as they don’t take new territory to do it. Olmert has stated he was instituting a freeze on new settlements, but so far this year 603 new housing units have been built in the West Bank. One can only wonder if George Bush ever grasps the importance of using precise language during diplomatic negotiations that all parties understand. Apparently, he doesn’t have a clue.

Peace Or Israel Could Be Finished, Says Olmert

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed a view that many objective observers share that “if the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-styloe struggle for equal voting rights(also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished.” This is the first time an Israel leader has made a link between the current situation as the South African apartheid struggle. In a sense, Olmert was confronting the alternative to a two-state solution– an Israel in which Muslims would outnumber Jews if they received the right to vote. Unfortunately, for the prime minister, polls indicate most Israelis were not reassured by the Annapolis conference. The liberal daily Haaretz poll showed only 17% thought Annapolis a success and 42% regarded it as a failure. A similar poll in Yedhiot Ahronot showed 50% felt Annapolis a failure and 83% did not expect positive results by the end of 2008.

Olmert’s honesty may come back to haunt him if negotiations collapse with President Abbas. At this point Prime Minister Olmert must make a dramatic announcement to jump start negotiations. It could be something as simple as ensuring Palestinians of equal access to water supplies or an immediate freeze on further West Bank settlements. Olmert might well ask Turkey to become a partner in discussions since it is among the few nations which has good relations both with Israel and Arab nations.

Israel-Palestinian Press Reports Death Before Birth

There was widespread consensus among leading Israel and Arab newspapers that Annapolis was anything but a rousing success. In the Israeli Yediot Ahronot, columnist Nahum Barnes noted that nothing less than a “miracle would be required” for a Palestinian state to be created by the end of 2008. Its military expert blasted Olmert for placing restrictions on the military in dealing with the Gaza situation. Maariv, the nation’s second largest newspaper commented in an editorial that “peace agreed for the cameras” and the main achievment was helping Olmert make it through another year in office. It commented that Defense Minister Ehud Barak, “knows that the chances for a peace treaty in a year as as great as Olmert being elected US president next November.”

According to the Arab newspaper, Al-Quds Al-Arabi, “the only success at Annapolis is that the conference took place.” It caustically claimed Olmert was the winner since the world now regards nuclear power Israel which has imprisoned 11,000 Palestinians as a fighter for peace. According to experts, the overall conclusion being drawn by Israel and Arab newspapers is that Annapolis in the long run will have proved to do more harm than good.

Annapolis Fiasco Looming? Or, Annapolis Success?

The United States government has issued invitations to next week’s Annapolis meeting to Saudi Arabia and Syria who are asked to join the 40 nations attending. The assembled representatives will meet on November 26 for a dinner, they will spend November 27 working on something, and then conclude on November 28. President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority says his attempts to develop a plan of action for the meeting with Prime Minister Olmert of Israel have failed and his spokesperson, Imer Hammad says it would be a “miracle” if anything worthwhile emerged from the conference. The US State Department insists, “the parties will get to Annapolis in good shape, prepared to accomplish what it is that they set out for themselves.”

One can only wonder on which planet Secretary of State Rice is living. Representatives from 40 nations are arriving at a meeting which has no agenda, no goals, in order to talk about something that no one agrees wishes discussed. The Palestinians are infuriated they are coming to a meeting without a preliminary document which at least outlines general directions of what might be accomplished, and Prime Minister Olmert insists the conference is for a discussion, not for the purposes of reaching any agreements. An observer might well conclude this is simply a typical Bush incompetence in action.

Prime Minister Olmert Takes Steps For Peace– Or Does He?

The Israel Cabinet voted to allow release of 441 prisoners in order o fulfill Prime Ministerf Olmert’s pledge that he would release some of those in jail as a gesture of good will. He also made a strong statement regarding the building of West Bank settlements. “Let’s be straight, we committed ourselves in the road map not to build new settlements and we will not build any.” However, the Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, responded to the announcement by noting, “He omitted from the Israel obligation in the road map that the Israel government must freeze all settlements including natural growth.” There apparently is some confusion as to whether or not Olmert’s statement forbids natural growth of new building arising from the present number of people in settlements.

Prime Minister Olmert insists that Annapolis is “not a conference for negotiation” but a meeting to discuss future negotiation. This stance is bound to irritate other nations who are coming with expectations that something substantial will emerge from the time they are devoting to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. If the only outcome is an agreement to “talk” what exactly is new? Abbas and Olmert have been talking for months so why have a meeting to get them to talk. It would be helpful if Olmert came to Annapolis prepared to make some dramatic offer, but all signs indicate he simply wants more talk.

Hamas Threatens Retaliation For Annapolis Conference

Leaders of Hamas threatened to escalate violence after the conclusion of this week’s Annapolis conference. They condemned Arab leaders for attending the meeting and, according to Same Abu Zuhi, they opened the door for “normalization with the occupation”(West Bank Settlements). Another Hamas official Abu Marzouk warned that “resistance in all its forms will escalate because Annapolis will expose the arbitrariness of the settlement track and its destructive endeavours.” Hamas officials also threatened to use more lethal rockets in bombing Israeli towns.

The reality of Annapolis is the weakness of both Olmert an Abbas to carry out any agreements. Olmert lacks political strength to make any dramatic peace moves while the authority of Abbas barely extends beyond certain areas of the West Bank. Abbas needs Hamas if he is to make an effective peace agreement that actually can be put into effect. If Hamas had been invited to Annapolis, its leaders would have been surrounded by Arab leaders who would not stand for rhetoric since they want and need stability in the Middle East. By allowing Hamas to stand on the outside looking in the opportunity to bring them inside was lost.

We Need Peace Now Says Palestinian Leader

President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated the need for achieving resolution of key issues at the upcoming Annapolis meeting if violence is to be averted in the Middle East. He identified a serious difference between his position and that of Israeli Prime Minister Olmert — he wants a detailed agenda working toward specific goals while Olmert prefers a vaguer document without a definite timetable. Abbas fears the outbreak of further violence in the region unless issues dividing the two groups are addressed and resolved.

Veteran Palestinian lawmaker, Hanan Ashrawi gave a guest lecture at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia in which she pleaded for dialogue between the opposing groups. She stated bluntly the need by Palestinians for achieving peace with Israel. ‘Violence and extreme ideology of Israel feeds violence and extremism on the other side. And that’s what led to the election of Hamas.” She said you can’t wait until “every single Palestinian becomes peaceful” but must engage in dialogue. One step might be for both sides to cease dwelling on past statements since enough expressions on the desire for violence can be found among Palestinians and Israelis. It’s time to focus on the future.