If you don't get MER, you just don't get it! 'Promises, Promises, Promises' - Palestinians have been
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'Promises, Promises, Promises' - Palestinians have been repeatedly promised and deceived about a State since the 1940s...and before that they were repeatedly promised and deceived that there wouldn't be a 'Jewish State' replacing Palestine in the first place.
PA SUPER PROBATION
The London 'Peace Conference' That Wasn't
"Abu Mazen was very reluctant to go to London. There was a
grave concern about what this meeting was about. But we are
demonstrating our interest by sending a very high level delegation."
MIDDLEEAST.ORG - MER - Washington - 1 March: Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Authority II are on super and severe probation. Probation by the Israelis who insist they liquidate and destroy the Palestinians' own resistance movements; probation from the U.S. and 'donors' to 'reform' their corrupt ways and placate the Israelis; probation from their own people to prove they will not be pushed around by Israel and the U.S. and at the same time that they will deliver the long-promised now mostly illusory 'Palestinian State.' Problem is of course that these various probations are contradictory if not mutually exclusive.
The Israelis aren't even there, Prime Minister Sharon having ordered his log-time friend and competitor, now his deputy PM, Shimon Peres, not to attend. Nabil Sha'ath, the long-time VIP Palestinian Foreign Minister was told by his own not to attend. And Mahmoud Abbas is only there reluctantly having wanted to save himself for something more significant.
Why the Palestinians and the Arab regimes even keep coming to Western capitals summoned by Western regimes remains mysterious to many but of course has a lot to do with the neo-colonial modern-day realities that keep the Middle East so fractured, so weak, so co-opted.
Now the British press is usually considerably better -- though still usually quite inadequate -- when dealing with matters Middle Eastern. After all their Empire has had considerably longer experience trying to control and manipulate the region than the Americans; and their press has a much richer tradition of expertise and candid exposee than does the corporate American media. All that follows is from British publications.
In the end the Israelis didn't come to London but have insisted on pulling most of the strings by remote control through Washington and London and the U.N. So much so in fact that what was originally heralded as a major 'international Peace Conference' when Tony Blair toured the region to arrange it is now not even a 'conference' but rather a 'meeting'. But the Palestinians are beggars these days; and in the end the PA has to do what those who provide it's money, it's guns, and it's fragile legimacy, tell it to do.
Palestinians seek world support
Envoys from 23 countries are meeting in London to
show international support for the new Palestinian leadership.
BBC News - 1 March: The head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, told the one-day conference he was fully committed to reform, peace, and fighting militants.
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said the issues raised at the meeting were of global significance.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan are among those attending.
The Israelis are not, but are said to be watching closely.
Mr Blair opened the conference saying its aim was to promote a viable two-state solution to the Middle East conflict.
He said this would enhance security in the Middle East and beyond.
"It is something that concerns all the countries representing here today," he said.
Mr Abbas, for his part, said his administration was ready to work "hand in hand" with Israel.
"The peace that has now become the dire need of Palestinians and Israelis is possible - as long as we work in earnest," he said.
The Palestinian leader again condemned last week's suicide bombing in Tel Aviv.
"Extremists elements are determined to sabotage any peace process and to sabotage any plans to solve political problems through peaceful means," he said.
But Mr Abbas added that the Palestinian Authority was "determined to carry on on the peace path".
Friday's attack, which killed five, was the first of its kind since Mr Abbas took office in January.
It is not clear who was behind the suicide bombing, but Israel has said it holds Syria responsible. Syria denies involvement.
Mr Annan - in the third of the opening speeches at the conference - said he saw a moment of "promise and potential" in the Middle East and urged "key players keep their eyes on the ultimate prize of a lasting peace".
"The prevailing mood is one of optimism," he added. "The sense of expectation is palpable."
The UK says it hopes the meeting will mark a renewal of the peace process known as the roadmap.
Ahead of the conference, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, urged Mr Abbas to take firm action against Palestinian militant groups.
She said delegates would be able to demonstrate that there was a concerted effort to isolate what she called the "rejectionists" opposed to the peace process.
BLAIR PRESSES RELUCTANT ABBAS INTO LONDON CONFERENCE
By Chris McGreal
Guardian (UK) - February 28, 2005:
Ramallah - Downing Street had to put pressure on a reluctant
Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, to attend Tony Blair's Middle
East conference in London tomorrow after the Palestinian leadership
expressed fears that the meeting will serve Israel's interests by
raising new hurdles to the revival of political negotiations.
Mr Abbas had planned to send his prime minister, Ahmed Qureia, as a
demonstration of scepticism about the conference, which will agree
specific political and security reforms and mechanisms to revive the
Palestinian officials said that after US and Israeli pressure forced Mr
Blair to abandon his original plan for a full peace conference to push
forward political talks, the leadership feared that tomorrow's meeting
would do little more than set out a fresh series of targets for the
Palestinians before a return to the Road Map peace process.
The Palestinians say the conference will do almost nothing to press
Israel to meet its Road Map obligations or fulfill existing commitments
to ease the strictures of occupation and end settlement expansion.
But about 10 days ago Downing Street finally persuaded Mr Abbas to
travel to London in part because the US secretary of state, Condoleezza
Rice, the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, and several Arab
delegations will attend the meeting.
"Abu Mazen [Mr Abbas] was very reluctant to go to London," said the
Palestinian deputy foreign minister, Abdullah Abdullah. "There was a
grave concern about what this meeting was about. But we are
demonstrating our interest by sending a very high level delegation."
Israel has refused to attend the meeting but it was consulted over the
agenda and won changes to the wording of the final declaration in tense
meetings between Ariel Sharon's closest adviser, Dov Weisglass, and Sir
Nigel Sheinwald, Mr Blair's Middle East envoy.
Copies of confidential British working documents obtained by the
Guardian show that a demand that Israel reciprocate Palestinian actions
by fulfilling its obligations under the Road Map peace plan was watered
down in later drafts of the conference declaration to be made tomorrow.
Palestinian officials say that was at Israel's behest.
The documents also show that the Palestinians were able to win some
changes on the final declaration to the frustration of Mr Weisglass,
including a recognition that economic regeneration will be hampered
unless Israel lifts its matrix of roadblocks and other controls in the
West Bank. The killing of four Israelis in Friday's suicide bombing
outside a Tel Aviv club will have strengthened the focus on reform of
the Palestinian security forces.
But the attack will also sharpen Palestinian arguments that unless
there is international pressure on Israel to fulfill commitments to
halt the growth of its West Bank settlements, and to re-engage in
political negotiations, it may be hard to sustain support for the
fragile ceasefire put in place three weeks ago.
Mr Blair originally wanted a fully-fledged peace conference but Israel
objected and the Americans concurred.
"The initial thought of the conference was more of a political nature,
a peace conference," said Mr Abdullah. "But you need two to tango. The
Israelis are not there so the British thought of a more modest meeting
with a less ambitious agenda." Mr Sharon won an assurance from Mr Blair
during the prime minister's visit to Jerusalem in December that
tomorrow's meeting would be limited to discussing Palestinian reform
and not be "political" by discussing revival of the Road Map.
Mr Weisglass has travelled to London twice in the past fortnight for
talks with Mr Blair's team, described by a British official as "tense".
Palestinian sources said that Israel objected to a phrase in the first
draft of the meeting's final declaration that said Palestinian reforms
should be met by "reciprocal action by Israel in relation to its own
commitments". Israel said the wording directly linked the conference to
the Road Map, something Mr Blair told Mr Sharon would not happen.
The Palestinians suggested the words "parallel" or "simultaneous" as
softer alternatives but Israel still objected. Later drafts merely
"urged and expected" Israel to meet its commitments but without direct
"There was a reference to Israel's obligations to reciprocate the steps
taken by Palestinians," said Mr Abdullah. "Israel was not happy. Now
the Israelis are asked or urged, or however mild you can be."
There was also wrangling over Palestinian objections to implementation
of the meeting's declaration being "subject to Israel's security
needs". That was watered down to "taking account of Israeli security
needs". However, the Palestinians won a recognition in the draft
declaration that the infrastructure of occupation is a major impediment
to economic revival.
Blair meets Abbas at London summit
The Guardian - 1 March 2005 : Tony Blair opened Middle East peace talks in London today telling international leaders he hoped they would advance the Palestinians' efforts to create a "viable state".
The prime minister is hosting talks attended by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, and Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state.
Mr Blair had originally wanted a full-blown peace summit but the support of the US and Israel, which is not attending, were lacking. British officials were characterising the talks as being aimed at helping the Palestinian Authority to prepare for peace negotiations with Israel.
In an article in the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds today, Mr Blair said the Palestinian Authority must prove it was a "credible partner for peace".
In his opening remarks at the talks, which 23 countries are attending, Mr Blair said the peace process had progressed but that everyone would agree it was a "fragile enterprise that can so easily be set back as it has been set back on other occasions".
He said the process must not be derailed by terrorist attacks, such as Friday's suicide bomb in Tel Aviv, which killed five Israelis. That attack was the first of its kind since Mr Abbas took over as Palestinian leader.
Mr Blair said real progress needed real "patient, hard slog" on the details of negotiations, rather than mere statements.
<>He said solving the Middle East conflict would benefit not only the region but the world because the Palestinian struggle was probably the most "used and abused" grievance by extremists.
A small crowd of demonstrators had greeted the leaders as they arrived for the meeting, holding banners accusing Mr Abbas of being a "US puppet".
The remit of the talks - which will culminate in a communique later today - is relatively narrow. Mr Blair said the focus was on reforming the Palestinian government, security and the economy. He told the meeting, however, that the Palestinians had "clear plans [for] the Palestinian state of the future in terms of its infrastructure", which the international community had to find ways of bolstering.
The communique was expected to announce the creation of a US-led team to help the Palestinians to reform their security services and a group led by the World Bank and EU to help to reconstruct the Palestinian economy.
It was also expected an international donors' meeting would be announced today for the end of June as well as a World Bank-led drive to galvanise international private sector involvement and a new loan guarantee scheme for Palestine.
Mr Abbas and the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, are expected to make separate visits to the White House later this year. Officials at the London talks said direct negotiations between the two had been provisionally scheduled for September in Washington.
Today Blair praised the "courage" of Mr Sharon for his plan to disengage from Gaza.
Earlier today Mr Abbas told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that the purpose of the talks was to support the Palestinians, not to put pressure on Israel. He said: "[W]e are asking that Britain and the international community mobilise all their resources to help us achieve the peace process that we have engaged in."
Mr Abbas said Ms Rice's participation in the conference was "living proof of the renewed interest now shown by the American administration" in achieving peace.
He said: "We expect from President Bush to implement his own vision of a two-state solution, the birth of the Palestinian state and the ending of the occupation of 1967. We have noted the seriousness of the position of the Americans and that of President Bush."
Mr Abbas said the Tel Aviv suicide bombing had "negative, devastating, damaging effects" on the peace process and he condemned it unequivocally.
He insisted, however, that the main Palestinian factions all sought peace. He said there was now a "consensus from all factions accepting the principle of de-escalation, pacification and reciprocal ceasefire".
He said the Palestinian Authority was "confident" about assuming control of the Gaza Strip and maintaining security on Israel's planned withdrawal in July.
Last month Mr Abbas and Mr Sharon agreed upon a formal verbal truce and ceasefire between the two sides at talks at Sharm el-Sheik, in Egypt, following four years of conflict, which have left more than 3,000 people dead.
Straw backs Abbas with call for full peace conference
By Colin Brown and Eric Silver in Jerusalem
The Independent - UK - 1 March 2005: The Palestinian meeting in London today, hosted by Tony Blair, could pave the way for a peace conference on the Middle East, the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said. Mr Blair had talks with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President, in Downing Street to discuss the strategy for reviving the peace process, after a suicide bombing by militants in Tel Aviv on Friday was condemned as the work of "rejectionist terrorists" by the Foreign Secretary.
Mr Straw gave his backing to the hopes expressed by Mr Abbas in The Independent yesterday that the meeting will pave the way for a full peace conference under the provisions of the Middle East road map. "What we hope is that by making practical suggestions about the political institutions it will help to build confidence so that a peace conference can be held," Mr Straw said.
He recognised that thebombing in Tel Aviv provided a "sombre backdrop" to today. "There has been a continuing stream of information about the fact that a number of rejectionist terrorist groups continue to base their activities in Syria," Mr Straw said.
"I hope Syria is reassessing its strategic position. The decision of the Syrians to hand over Saddam Hussein's half-brother - he was a high-value target, high on the wanted list - may be an indication that the Syrians have decided to move." But he added: "On the basing of rejectionist terrorist groups within Syria and the continuing support for Hezbollah, but also their permissive environment for the other groups, the Syrians have a lot of work to do to convince us that has ended."
Israel left no doubt that it blamed Syria for the Tel Aviv bombing which killed five Israelis outside a disco. Israeli intelligence officers briefed ambassadors of the European Union, the G8 and the UN Security Council. They read from a transcript of an intercepted telephone call in which Ramadan Shallah, Islamic Jihad's Damascus-based leader, ordered a West Bank commander to go ahead with the bombing. The West Bank activist was not named. Officials said they hoped to make more arrests in co-operation with the Palestinian security services.
Islamic Jihad, which claimed the attack, named Abdullah Badran, a 21-year-old West Bank student, as the Tel Aviv bomber. In a video, Badran said the attack was designed to harm the Palestinian Authority, which he accused of serving the United States by opting for the diplomatic track.
Israel did not accuse President Bashar Assad of directly ordering the bombing, but Mark Regev, the foreign ministry spokesman, said: "In a regime like the Syrian regime, such an order could not come from Damascus unless the regime was acquiescing or collaborating."
Syrian officials have strenuously denied involvement, even asserting that the militias no longer maintain headquarters in their capital. A Western diplomat who was at the briefing said: "The intelligence material lent weight to what the officials were saying about the involvement of external players, but I don't think it was conclusive on its own." Syria and Israel are not at today's meeting.
Later yesterday, Israel's military spokesman said a car bomb, with 10kg of high explosive, had been stopped near the West Bank Jewish settlement of Mevo Dotan, south of Jenin. Military sources said it was linked to the Islamic Jihad cell behind the Tel Aviv bombing.
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