Coming Mideast summit will kill trees, do little for peace

The November Mideast Summit, if it takes place, will not produce an agreement on ‘core issues’ (borders, refugees, Jerusalem) between Israel and the Palestinians, but only a ‘statement of principles’:

The US-sponsored Mideast conference scheduled to take place in Maryland in November will only be one step in the peace process, rather than its goal, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agreed on Wednesday afternoon.

The parties did not agree on the content of the joint statement they plan to present at the US summit, but did agree that the negotiations teams will hold intensive meetings starting next week in order to discuss the statement’s wording. — YNet

This isn’t surprising, since Abbas’ demands as he has so far enunciated them can’t possibly be acceptable to Israel. They include complete Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 lines, the return of the descendants of the 1948 refugees to Israel, and the re-division of Jerusalem according to the lines established by the Jordanian occupation of 1948 — which would result in the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, and even the Hebrew University and the original Hadassah hospital becoming part of the Palestinian state.

A serious complicating factor is a recent report that Abbas is (or shortly will be) conducting secret negotiations with Hamas. Although one can say that the 40% of the Palestinian population in the Hamas-controlled area can’t be ignored, there’s another side to this argument: as long as so many Palestinians are ruled by the violent, rejectionist Hamas, there can’t be a meaningful peace agreement.

Nevertheless, Condoleeza Rice will be coming to the region next week. She will vist Israel and several Arab countries, and her goal will be to get as much ‘progress’ made toward an agreement as possible.

As usual, this will mean pressuring Israel for concessions in the negotiations, as well as “bolstering” for Abbas: prisoner releases, removal of checkpoints, etc. None of this will improve Israel’s security, and the prospects for the summit to produce a peace agreement are exactly zero.

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