debkafile reports: Israeli PM Olmert and FM Livni bound for Arab capitals to seek modifications of the Saudi peace plan
Foreign minister Tzipi Livni met her Egyptian and Jordanian opposite numbers in Cairo Thursday. Prime minister Ehud Olmert has a face-to-face with King Abdullah 11 in Petra on May 15. This will be his first foreign trip since a scathing report on his management of the Lebanon War sparked demands for his resignation.
debkafile‘s Middle East sources say Israel’s diplomatic effort will be in vain, given the revised Saudi approach to Tehran and its radical orientation.
The government spokesman in Amman Nasser Judeh said Tuesday: “His majesty will spare no effort to revive the peace process. Israel’s foreign ministry spokesman Mark Regev said: If the Arabs are willing to modify the plan endorsed by the Arab summit in March it could become “a turning point in the history of the Middle East.
He was referring to Israel’s rejection of the provisions which call for a full withdrawal to pre-1967 borders and the return of all 1948 Palestinian refugees for full Arab recognition.
From the outset, the Saudi plan was presented as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition – never as a basis for negotiation with Israel. Now even that offer has been overtaken by Riyadh’s radical change of heart.
Its “peace plan” has been pressed into use as a fulcrum for bolstering Syrian president Bashar Assad and his permanent guest Hamas hardliner Khaled Melshaal, who sit at the apex of the pro-Teheran Arab bloc.
Saudi officials maintain that this turnaround aims only at weaning the two leaders from the radical camp. But DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources say it goes much further. Saudi King Abdullah is now far along a road that breaks away from a deal he struck with Washington to isolate Iran and curb its expansion by consolidating a moderate Arab bloc. Instead, he has imposed on the Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah a power-sharing administration with the jihadist Hamas, and embraced Assad at the Arab summit, to which Iran was invited. The Saudi ruler has given Tehran a say in the resolution of burning Middle East conflicts, Iraq, Lebanon and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Thus if Israel wants a foot through the Arab door, its government will have to line up with the Saudis and live with Tehran’s nihilistic approach to its statehood and dispute with the Palestinians.
In the last two or three weeks, debkafile‘s Washington sources report that the that the Bush administration has shifted its policies around to adjust to the oil kingdom’s policy re-orientation. Some US officials openly accuse the Saudi rulers of misleading Washington about its intentions. Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice in particular was given a promise that Riyadh would henceforth promote engagement for peace with Israel, a commitment on which they have reneged.
Our sources further disclose that Prince Bandar bin Sultan, head of the national security council, who facilitated the accord with Washington which was to have produced an inter-Arab committee for dialogue with Israel, is currently out of favor, thrust out of Middle East policy-making at the royal court in Riyadh.