Thursday, September 28, 2006

From today's MEPP circulation:

The situation at the moment is very complex. But then, when has it not been in this conflict? Israel’s PM has made clear again today (as so often in the recent past) that he has no wish to negotiate with a Syria that harbours Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as well as supplying Hezbollah. In this mornings Israeli Cabinet communiqué he also added:

‘Regarding statements about Syria and other issues, it must be recalled that the Government has a policy and it is unacceptable that ministers express personal views that do not jibe with Government policy.’

Roughly at the same time, Shimon Peres – currently vice premier – was reportedly telling Chatham House that Israel was ready and willing to negotiate with Syria, if she only offers reasonable positions as a starting point. Peres stated that at the moment Assad’s position amounted to a demand for Israel to make all possible major concessions as a prerequisite for the start of a diplomatic process.

Meanwhile, on the Palestinian front, again we are in a muddle of diplomatic activity. After Mahmoud Abbas appearance at the UN General Assembly, at which he pronounced that a Palestinian unity government would come into existence and (would try to) meet the by now established requirements for a resumption of aid, he returned to the West Bank, only to report that as a result of his speech he was ‘back to square one’ with no new government in sight. On another Fatah / Hamas issue, a report today claims that Abbas is now seeking Qatar’s help to mediate over the abducted Israeli soldier, with some confusion over whether he is in that country at the moment or not – and a possible Abbas – Meshal meeting there. Israeli PM Olmert has told a radio programme there that he wishes to meet Mahmoud Abbas in the coming days, so we might yet see a little movement, though Defense Minister Peretz told the Jerusalem Post that he may escalate operations in Gaza in light of continued Kassam attacks.

As this overview is intended for the general membership, I apologise to those members who are part of the diplomatic process or the media and will be aware of these developments. Any comments / thoughts on the current realities, expert or not, are appreciated as ever.


William said...

Hi Davis, This is an excellent and thoughtful circulation. One confusing point only - the way you write this it implies that the captured soldier might no longer be in Gaza. That is possible but very very unlikely. When I was in Gaza a few weeks ago he was there and was to remain there. The people holding him would be extremely unlikely to let him go to any third party in the absence of a deal - let alone take the risk of losing him in the process of smuggling him out. No - I assure you - he is still most definately in Gaza.

But the Qataris are interesting as they are THE ONLY Arab State to have a quasi-permanent diplomatic presence in Gaza. So they could well be playing a role

Davis said...

Thanks, I must have expressed myself badly, as clearly nobody believes Gilad Shalit has been moved out of Gaza. I was refering to reports that Mahmoud Abbas may be in Qatar, and that apparently other reports state that so is Khaled Meshal and that the two may even meet.

William said...

Well possible I guess. Khaled Meschal spends his time bouncing back and forth between Doha, Damascus and Cairo. Those are his three homes. Though his relationship with the Egyptians has been a little strained of late.