Israeli Military Intelligence research director Brig. Gen. Yossi Baidatz warned Tuesday, the day before proximity peace talks are launched by US envoy George Mitchell, "We do not recognize in Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas a true attempt to be flexible on the core issues. He is preparing for the talks to fail and then "expose the true face' of Israel."
He is preparing the ground for the talks to reach the same point as previous rounds of negotiations – failure, and then 'expose the true face' of Israel," said the intelligence official, in a wide-ranging briefing to the Knesset foreign affairs and security committee Tuesday, May 4.
Mitchell and team were already working on their mediation mission at the US consulate in Jerusalem. Wednesday and Thursday, May 5-6 he will start the talks with the Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and turn to Abbas in Ramallah Friday. An agenda remains to be hammered out, with the US and the Palestinians aiming to start the process with a discussion of the borders of the future Palestinian state and Israel insisting on leading off with security.
Brig. Gen. Baidatz underlined Israel's concern about the expanding Syrian sophisticated weapons transfers to the Lebanese Hizballah, which are by now, he said, too regular and well organized to be called smuggling. Hizballah's military capabilities have developed substantially since the 2006 Lebanon War, he said. "The transfer of long-range missiles recently published is only the tip of the iceberg."
He spoke of "long-range solid-fuel rockets and more precise rockets."
The long range rockets, said the military intelligence officer, "enables them to locate their launching pads deep inside Lebanon."
Baidatz also reported: "Syria continues to try and march to two tunes, – improving its ties with the West, with Arab states and with Turkey, on the one hand; on the other regaining its dominance over Lebanon and intensifying strategic and operational cooperation with Iran, Hizballah and Palestinian terrorist groups."