Bush will treat as done deals key issues only broached in Israel-Palestinian talks

US president George W. Bush went over Israel’s head last week and promised Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to hand on to his successor as done deals the issues covered in the talks Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni held with Palestinian leaders, debkafile‘s Washington sources reveal.
Olmert and Livni, who is Kadima’s nominee for prime minister, have told the Israeli public that nothing had been agreed in the series of talks they held with Abbas and senior Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia from last year. No document or even working paper was signed to confirm claims by Olmert that Israel must give up East Jerusalem, withdraw from the West Bank except for once percent of the territory and accept tens of thousands of Palestinian 1948 refugees.
If agreed – which they were not – these issues are highly problematical and would need to seek approval Israel’s democratically-elected institutions.
But the US president has taken it upon himself to decide that the issues aired and left pending will henceforth be deemed by the US presidency closed between the parties. He will recommend this principle to the next administration in the belief that it will jump the Israel-Palestinian negotiating process forward toward a final accord in 2009. President Bush also promised Abbas the Palestinians would not be held accountable for the impasse reached by the talks this year.
The Palestinians are trumpeting Bush’s decision as a milestone on the road to achieving their goals. Abbas called Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and King Abdullah of Jordan to give them the glad tidings.
It may be recalled that Bush was the first US president ever to back the Palestinian demand for independence and a “two-state solution” of the conflict.
debkafile‘s political sources say Bush has laid down a perilous precedent by hijacking Israel’s prerogative for accepting or rejecting Palestinian demands and trampling the authority of its elected institutions. If this precedent is applied to Israel’s indirect talks with Syria, it will be enough for Damascus to put the question of Israel’s withdrawal from the Golan on the table for it to be counted as agreed.
Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice visited Israel last month to try obtain a signed document summing up areas of accord to burnish the Bush foreign policy record before he left the White House. However, she was informed that the process had not advanced that far.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email