Bush in Amman: There is no question that progress in the Israel-Palestinian conflict will improve the situation in Iraq

The US president asserted Thursday, Nov. 30: “Abu Mazen deserves world support because he wants a Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel. We support reasonable people and reject extremists.” His words after meeting Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki and Jordan’s King Abdullah, who hosted the meeting, set the tone for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s talks Thursday with Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni in Jerusalem and Abu Mazen in Jericho.
Washington has been under heavy Arab and British pressure to tackle the Palestinian-Israeli issue as the key to staunching violence in Iraq, although few debkafile sources expect progress from Rice’s talks. Tuesday, the Palestinian leader said he had given up on unity talks with Hamas because of its exorbitant demands and would pursue other options.
debkafile reported earlier that Hamas’s hard-line leader Khaled Meshaal had laid down non-negotiable demands in his talks in Cairo. They included a mechanism for opening the Palestinian Liberation Organization umbrella to Hamas membership and appointing himself permanent chairman in place of Mahmoud Abbas.
Meshaal would have thus gained total control of the Palestinian movement and its resources worldwide. He demanded the treasury, interior and foreign affairs portfolios for Hamas. Hamas has also upped its demands for the release of the kidnapped Israel soldier Gilead Shalit to a swap of more than a thousand Palestinian
prisoners. Egyptian intelligence Omar Suleiman reported to Israeli leaders Wednesday, Nov. 29, that there had been no progress in negotiations for Shalit’s release.

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