Despite the US latest efforts to bridge the Israeli-Palestinian
gap ahead of an international peace summit expected to be held late
next month, Palestinian analysts were still skeptical of any
positive outcome of the gathering.
Summit not to end conflict between Israel and
Jihad Hammad, a political science teacher in Gaza University,
told Xinhua on Monday that the upcoming international gathering on
the Middle East peace would not end the conflict between Israel and
During the telephone interview, Hammad said that US Secretaryof
State Condoleezza Rice is currently visiting the Middle Eastregion
to try to decorate the participation of the meeting as "sheknows in
advance that this summit is not a magic one that wouldend the
conflict and bring the Palestinians their legitimaterights
Rice arrived in Israel on Sunday, embarking on her four-day
visit to the region which aims to bridge the gaps between Israeli
and Palestinian negotiators and to finalize preparations for the
fall summit due to be held in Annapolis, Maryland, in November.
Palestinian analysts believe that Rice came in an embarrassing
time marked by predictions that this tour might fail. Hammad said
that the U.S.-sponsored summit is not the first of its kind. Since
the historic Madrid peace conference in 1991, "several peace
summits and conferences were held in the past 16years."
"Unfortunately it hadn't permanently end the conflict, on the
contrary, the suffering of the Palestinian people under the Israeli
occupation has increased," he added.
Meanwhile, Hammad didn't expect that Rice and the United States
would be able to end the conflict "exactly as the Palestinians had
"The experience had proved that the United States dares not to
do anything that Israeli leaders don't want to," he said.
Breakthrough unlikely before summit
An immediate breakthrough between Israel and the Palestinians is
unlikely to be achieved before the eye-catching gathering as Rice
herself downplayed the possibility to bridge the gap between the
two sides on a document that would outline details of a future
"I don't expect ... that there will be any particular outcome in
the sense of breakthroughs on the document," Rice said during her
flight to Tel Aviv from Moscow on Sunday.
Israel and the Palestinians still differ with each other as to
what they should agree on before November. Palestinian President
Mahmoud Abbas expects a detailed framework agreement that would
address core issues including borders, Jerusalem and refugees while
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert wants a broad-brush principle
for peace talks.
Nabil Amer, an advisor to President Abbas said Monday that Abbas
presents in his meeting with Rice two major subjects. First,
"Israel should pledge commitment to remove roadblocks, stop
settlements, stop construction of wall and free prisoners from its
jails," Amer said.
The second subject is the final status issues such as
"Jerusalem, refugees and the borders of the independent Palestinian
state", he added.
He denied earlier Israeli reports published in the Israeli daily
Ha'aretz that Rice "is carrying ideas and proposals to the
Palestinians aiming at convincing them to law down the ceiling of
their demands in the joint Israeli-Palestinian document due to be
presented to the summit next month."
Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei had warned Israel and the US
that if the fall summit fails, "the whole region would witness
disasters and all efforts to achieve peace will vanish."
"The issues of Jerusalem and the right of refugees to return are
the two basic issues that must be resolved," Qurei said in a
statement. "The settlements and the borders of the Palestinian
state are also important ... let's wait and see."
However, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Industry, Trade and
Labor Minister Eli Yishai on Sunday told Rice that Jerusalem was
"not on the negotiations table."
Control over the holy city of Jerusalem has been a very
sensitive and thorny issue for the decades-long conflict. The city
is of special importance to both the Arabs and the Israelis as it
comprises major religious sites.
"We have a Palestinian National Authority with two heads. It is
impossible to sign an agreement with only 60 percent of the
Palestinian people. We need a real reinforcement, rather than a
virtual one," said Yishai.
Yishai was referring to the political division of the
Palestinians. Since mid-June when Hamas seized control of the Gaza
Strip, the geographically-divided Palestinian territories has been
politically split into two parts -- with Hamas controlling Gaza and
Abbas' Fatah movement holding the West Bank.
Hamas has been also exerting indirect pressure on Abbas and the
Palestinian negotiators by saying that the fall summit is a big
failure before it begins. Deposed Prime Minister of Hamas Ismail
Haneya also called on Arabs to boycott it.
(Xinhua News Agency October 17, 2007)