Rice to pin down Israeli “concessions” for Obama team

Although the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations have yielded no agreements on core issues, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has decided that a departmental panel will “summarize” their transcripts and hand them over to the Barack Obama team.
Rice said at the Middle East Quartet meeting in Egypt Sunday, Nov. 9, that she would hand over to her successor “in private” and then “you won’t hear any more from me”.
debkafile notes: All the parties agreed in advance that the Israel-Palestinian talks would be confidential. They were held for several months on two tracks – Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas and foreign minister Tzipi Livni and Ahmed Qureia. A news blackout was maintained although it was sharply criticized in Israel for keeping the public in the dark. The deal was that only issues agreed would be disclosed. However, no agreement was reached on any of the core issues, Jerusalem, refugees and borders.
debkafile‘s political sources report that assistant secretary of state David Welch will compile the report for submission to the Obama foreign policy transition team. This process means that any thought, hypothesis or suggestion floated in the confidential talks may be pinned down and presented as an Israeli concession for the next administration to pursue as such. The report may also may or may not be tilted in Palestinian favor.
Throughout the talks, Israeli intelligence leaders criticized Olmert and Livni for being too forthcoming and free with their ideas with their Palestinian interlocutors who by contrast stuck to demands. The Americans may decide to use the Israel negotiators’ words as commitments, they warned, particularly when they see their Annapolis initiative melting away before the end of 2008, the deadline the Bush administration set for a peace accord. But both Israeli leaders dismissed this, certain that Rice would play fair.
The fate of this report depends on the priorities of the new US president and the winners of Israel’s February election. However, Secretary Rice will have planted a bomb for her successors to use against Israel should they so decide when the time comes.

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