DEBKAfile reports: Bush’s Middle East peace conference plan peters out after telephone conversation with Saudi King Abdullah
July 18, 2007, 9:52 AM (GMT+02:00)
Our Washington sources report that the White House tried to play down the importance of the proposal put forward by President George W. Bush Monday, July 16, after Saudi King Abdullah said he would not attend. White House spokesman Tony Snow said it was too early to say where or when the conference for discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would take place. "I think a lot of people are inclined to try to treat this as a big peace conference" said. "It's not."
Neither could it be. According to DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources, the president could have known before he unveiled his conference plan that not only the Saudi ruler but also Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, both key regional players, would not be coming.
Neither goes along with Bush’s boycott of Hamas. Washington’s total rejection of the Islamist terrorists who seized the Gaza Strip was highlighted in his speech. hat morning, Egyptian intelligence minister Gen. Omar Suleiman arrived in Washington to try and persuade White House advisers to rewrite some changes into the speech. No chance, he was told.
Middle East sources note that the Bush Middle East statement had the effect of accentuating the gaps dividing the very Arab rulers most needed to back peacemaking. Three opposing camps emerged more clearly than ever:
Oneb.> The US, Israel and Jordan, who are convinced that an uncompromising boycott of Hamas will bring down its Gaza government and restore the rule of Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah.
Two. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco and most of the Gulf emirates object to this boycott and advocate power-sharing between Hamas and Fatah because they are convinced the latter will never recoup its military strength either in Gaza or the West Bank.
Three. Iran and Co. - Syria, Yemen and Hizballah, whose solid backing for the Palestinian Islamists is expressed in cash, arms, advisers and combat training.
By concretizing these gaps, the Bush speech has motivated the three camps to prove its path is the correct one. Therefore, Camp One while backing Abbas all the way will find it harder than ever before to isolate Hamas. So long as the extremist rulers of Gaza benefit from the support of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran and Syria, the massive US-Israeli cornucopia of cash, benefits and concessions showered on the Salam Fayyad government in Ramallah will lend Fatah rule not much more than a limited and artificial lease of life.