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Palestinians skeptical of success of Mideast peace summit
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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 Palestine


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 the Palestinians.


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 immediately."


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 always demanded."


"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 peace deal.


"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)

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