debkafile: Israeli ministers break ranks over the prime minister’s erratic Palestinian policies

Hamas PM Ismail Haniya was permitted to drive through the Rafah crossing in convoy Thursday, Dec. 28, on his way to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. He was also permitted to return home Thursday, Jan. 4. The European monitors shut the crossing in protest. Only two weeks ago, Israel and Egypt agreed Haniya would be barred from any more cash-collecting expeditions, after the uproar over his attempt to smuggle in $31m of Iranian donations to the Hamas war-chest, in violation of an international embargo.
Defense minister Amir Peretz went his own way this week, announcing the resettling of 30 Jewish families evacuated from the Gaza Strip last year in an abandoned outpost in the northern Jordan Valley.
Foreign minister Tzipi Livni stepped out of line with a “peace proposal” offered independently to two Fatah officials. It entailed skipping the Middle East roadmap clause on the dismantling of Palestinian terror and jumping over the interim clauses straight to talks on a final-status deal for a Palestinian state.
debkafile‘s political sources report that this is a display of contempt for the Olmert-Abu Mazen track. Livni has decided to challenge Olmert with her own agenda, ready for US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice’s forthcoming Middle East visit – as Olmert discovered Thursday.
Peretz too is pushing himself forward to show Washington that he is not to be ignored.
Both have stepped into the confusion created by Olmert’s incomprehensible zigzags. On the one hand, he backs Mahmoud Abbas and allows Egypt to deliver thousands of Kalashnikovs and ammunition to the Fatah-dominated presidential guard in Gaza; on the other, he bowed to a special request from Egyptian FM Ahmed Aboul Gheit to let Ismail take off for lucrative interviews with Saudi King Abdullah in Jeddah and Kuwait rulers.
Gheit was in Jerusalem this week to prepare the PM’s talks with Hosni Mubarak at Sharm el-Sheikh Thursday, Jan. 4.
Clearly, the Gulf’s oil states have had a change of heart and are now willing to fund the Hamas government in defiance of the Western embargo. It was Jordan’s King Abdullah who took the first step, as debkafile reported on Dec. 26 (King Abdullah denies Abu Mazen and audience, invites Haniya).
The prime minister is already in hot water with Israel’s military and security chiefs over his lenient attitude toward the non-stop Palestinian missile barrage from Gaza. His erratic steps place Israel at a grave disadvantage with the Palestinians, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria. They are also forcing serious cracks in his government.

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