Annapolis, MD. – Hundreds of reporters arrived at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis from around the U.S., and, indeed, from around the world yesterday, in order to cover a one-day Middle East summit, which kicked off a new negotiation process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Fifty nations were invited to witness the process. After exhaustive security checks, reporters were ushered into the U.S. Naval Academy basketball stadium, where they waited two hours to cast their eyes on a large scale screen to watch and observe U.S. President George W. Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas give speeches, launching negotiations that will continue on a bi-weekly basis throughout the year 2008, as they exchanged platitudes of peace.
Mr. Bush set the tone and framework for negotiations, saying that Mssrs. Abbas and Olmert would conduct biweekly negotiations beginning on December 12th.
Where there are disputes, Mr. Bush declared, the U.S. would be the “judge” to correct the conflicts.
The president invoked the “road map” of April 30th, 2003, specifically mentioning the precise date and guiding spirit of the negotiations. Bush’s mention of April 30th conveyed a subtle message to the Israeli government, which had added 14 reservations on May 25th, 2003., almost all of which demanded that the Palestinian Authority(PA) take full responsibility to disarm all terror groups before proceeding with negotiations.In other words, Mr. Bush was asking Israel to negotiate with the PA, come what may, by invoking the road map of April 30 rather than the road map that Israel had ratified on May 25, with strings attached.
In order to do some reality testing, The Bulletin asked U.S. State Department officials present at the basketball stadium if Mr. Abbas would indeed be required to disarm and disband the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, the terrorist organization which remains an integral part of the Fatah, which continues terror actions unabated. U.S. State Department officials would not answer the question, even though the Al Aksa Brigades remains on the U.S. State Department list of terrorist organizations.
Concerning another major issue where the U.S. would be “the judge” of matters in dispute, The Bulletin asked U.S. State Department officials what their position was concerning the Palestinian school curriculum, which the Israel Ministry of Defense had concluded were rife with anti-Semitic incitement and which erased Israel from the map and denied any connection of Jews or Judaism to the land of Israel.
U.S. State Department officials looked into the matter and said that they had taken no stand on the issue.
However, USAID, a powerful arm of U.S. foreign policy which renders financial assistance to the PA and to other foreign entities, has recently distributed a report on Capitol Hill which asserted that the PA had deleted such incitement from their curriculum.
Hence, U.S. “judgment” on such crucial policy differences between Israel and the Palestinians show that the U.S. can easily ignore facts on the ground and simply expedite the Palestinian position.
At the stadium, reporters were not allowed to publicly air any questions of Messrs. Abbas, Olmert or Bush. After the screen rolled up, reporters busied themselves with details of what they had seen and heard. Not one reporter raised a question as to why no public questions were permitted.
Majority Of Palestinians Against Israeli Sovereignty Over Western Wall
On the morning of the Middle East Summit in Annapolis, 72.5 percent of Palestinian are opposed to Israeli sovereignty over the Western Wall in any peace agreement. Only 18.7 percent would support such an arrangement.
This is shown by a new public opinion poll conducted by Dr. Elias Kukali among Arabs from Judea, Samaria and Gaza between Oct. 27 and Nov. 6.
The poll found that 52.7 percent of Palestinians in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are opposed to having Israeli sovereignty over the Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. To the proposal that there be Palestinian sovereignty over the Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem while there is Israeli sovereignty over the Jewish neighborhoods, 40.6 percent responded favorably.
The poll also shows that a majority of Palestinians – 68.2 percent – are opposed to any concession on the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland and to limit their return to Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
Only 23.5 percent agreed to the proposal to establish a compensation fund and to absorb the refugees in the future Palestinian state; 72.2 percent of Judea and Samaria residents and 77.3 percent of Gaza Strip residents are opposed to the idea of a land swap in which settlements would be annexed to Israel in return for alternative territory.
The poll was conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion.
It questioned 1,200 Palestinians from Judea and Samaria, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
Israeli Army Reservists: ‘Don’t Give The Palestinians Weapons’
Also on the morning of the Middle East Summit in Annapolis, 50 combatants from the elite Israeli Defense Forces Alexandroni Brigade, many of them former Golani Brigade soldiers, on Monday sent a letter to the government asking that Israel not give armored vehicles and ammunition to the Palestinians.
These combat soldiers had gone through a week of training before going on duty.
The reservists, who lost some of their comrades in the Second Lebanon War and in Operation Defensive Shield, were furious when they heard that they would be given orders to transfer armored vehicle and millions of bullets to the Palestinian Authority.
They gathered in a tent, and with the light of a dim lamp, wrote a letter, demanding Mr. Olmert halt the planned weapons shipment: “We, soldiers in a reserve battalion, are at this time training in southern Israel before going on duty in Samaria,” the letter states. “We ask you, at the last minute, and call on you to halt the convoy of APCs and ammunition to the Palestinians. We have no doubt that the ammunition and the APCs will be aimed against us, against our friends and against the citizens of the state, just as were the weapons given to the Palestinians in the Oslo Accords. It is not enough that the government approved recently releasing hundreds of terrorists, now it is also arming them.”
The letter is signed by 50 combatants, including the battalion commander and the deputy battalion commander, and was sent by fax to the Prime Minister’s Bureau.
Israel TV: U.S. Ambassador Pressures Chief Justice Of Israel Supreme Court
Israel Commercial TV Channel Two broke the story last night that the Chief Justice of the Israel Supreme Court President Judge Dorit Beinish was approached for a sensitive and unusual meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Israel Richard Jones.
According to the report, the two discussed political issues, mainly the route of the 1949-1967 armistice line and the construction in Judea and Samaria, which has been suspended for a long time already.
The meeting was held against the sensitive backdrop of the preparations for the Annapolis conference.
Attorney Yossi Fuchs from the Israel Legal Forum watchdog group said that “If it becomes evident that President Beinish discussed issues of the ‘settlements’ and the separation fence with the American ambassador, that constitutes crossing of a red line, an egregious blow to the principle of the separation of power and creates the fear that she will now preside over those issues after having heard one side, while donning a semblance of impartiality.”
©The Bulletin 2007