Assad pours icy water on Olmert-Sarkozy-Abbas upbeat peace show

French president Nicolas Sarkozy organized a jovial photo-op with Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas to launch his Mediterranean union debut in Paris Sunday, July 13, attended by 40 leaders.
The first sour note came from Syrian president Bashar Assad, who was reinstated by Sarkozy’s invitation on the international stage. He and foreign minister Walid Mualem walked out as Olmert entered to the hall to deliver a speech. Earlier, Assad had his security men jostle Israel correspondents and TV cameras out of his way as he swept past. And he firmly rejected Sarkozy’s effort to arrange a meeting with the Israeli prime minister and announced that peace with Israel could take another two years.
This reply followed Olmert’s optimistic statement to reporters: “We have never been as close to an accord as we are today.”
Abbas and Sarkozy beamed their approval of Olmert’s statement and co-chairman Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak called on Israel and the Palestinians to work harder for a peace deal to pave the way for a Palestinian state.
Behind the bonhomie, debkafile‘s Middle East sources report that Abbas’ Fatah and its rival, the rejectionist Palestinian Hamas, have never been so close to a peace accord as they are today, largely due to the efforts of Mubarak himself. Success in this effort would write finis to the US-sponsored Palestinian peace track with Israel.
This is the real purpose of the lengthy talks the Hamas delegations from Gaza and Damascus have been holding in Cairo. According to our sources, the rival factions have covered considerable ground:
1. Hamas has agreed to relinquish its rule of the Gaza Strip and accept a government manned by nonpartisan technocrats.
2. Parliamentary and presidential elections will be held in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, the date subject to the Hamas proviso that it is admitted to the Palestinian Liberation Organization leadership under a major structural reform.
3. Hamas and Fatah have agreed to Egyptian military forces’ deployment in the Gaza Strip to organize and train Palestinian security and intelligence bodies.
Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah, Hamas and Egypt agreed to leave Israel out in the cold and present the Palestinian reunion as a fait accompli. They reckoned that Israel would swallow the deal if captive Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit were freed. In any case, the prime minister Olmert is not expected to survive the corruption scandals gathering over his head.
The Palestinians groups and Cairo are moving forward as though George W. Bush, whose two-state solution was one of the high points of his international policy, had already left the White House.
A senior Abbas adviser, Yasser Abd Rabbo said in Ramallah last Thursday that A senior Abbas adviser, Yasser Abd Rabbo said in Ramallah last Thursday that his faction is seriously considering putting peace talks with Israel on ice.

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