debkafile Exclusive: Olmert and Jordan’s King Abudullah discuss dissuading Abbas from stepping down

Have something in writing drawn up with Abbas ready to show Bush – even if it means nothing. That in a word was the advice Jordan’s King Abdullah II gave Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert when they met in Aqaba Thursday, Jan. 3. Olmert offered to go along with the advice, but said he was worried about the Palestinian leader. Last week, Abbas confided to Abdullah and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak that he is very ill and fed up and sorely tempted to retire to his villa in Qatar.
debkafile‘s sources report that, while no progress has so far been achieved, the prime minister is anxious to keep Abbas on the post-Annapolis peace track up until the US president’s visit on Jan. 8. As an inducement, he gave in to his personal request to allow four hard-line Palestinian cronies to enter the West Bank, a request which had been denied by three former Israeli prime ministers, Barak, Natanyahu and Sharon.
debkafile has their names:
Abu Zaim Atallah Atallah, Palestinian military intelligence chief under Yasser Arafat in the 70s and 80s, and father of Abbas’ security adviser, who has been working with Bush’s security coordinator Gen. Keith Dayton.
Abu Mohsein Qatan, a London-based multimillionaire. He scandalized the West Bank when he predicted on his arrival that there would never be a Palestinian state and an Israel-Palestinian state was a more realistic goal.
Gen. Muhammed Jihad has been living in Amman. His candidacy for ministerial appointment in the Palestinian government has come up more than once.
Abu Maher Ghanem, the Tunis-based head of the PLO’s organization and recruitment department. Ganem is the most able and serious of the four. He holds the entire manpower list of the various the PLO factions and decides on the distribution of funds.
Olmert’s purpose in allowing Abbas’ mates to enter Ramallah is to strengthen the PA Chairman’s immediate circle and bolster his declining authority. Neither attaches much importance to the impending US president’s visit, which they see as a farewell tour. They expect him to hoist the Palestinian flag in Ramallah and Jericho for the sake of being recorded in history as the first American president to visit to the Palestinian Authority. After he leaves, the situation will revert to its normal stalemate.

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