7) A day later, leading member of Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian delegation sharply repudiates Bush's words at AnnapolisDEBKAFILE - November 28, 2007
In an interview from Washington, senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Wednesday, Nov. 28, the US president does not negotiate in the Palestinians' name, does not represent them and his words are not relevant to the Palestinian cause. On such issues as recognizing Israel, said the Palestinian negotiator, Bush is not competent to determine how we act. If the US president seeks an exchange of territory, he can do this with Mexico.
Abbas' political adviser Abu Rodeina then maintained that the Palestinians made no commitments at Annapolis.
They spoke the day after the Middle East conference held Nov. 27 at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis heard President Bush announce that a steering committee had been agreed to continuously negotiate core problems from Dec.12 and conclude talks by the end of 2008.
On his way home from the conference, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said the next Middle East meeting would take place in Moscow. The date and agenda are still to be agreed.
Speaking after the opening session, Saudi FM Saudi al-Faisal emphasized that to achieve a permanent accord, it was essential for Israel to freeze settlement activity, dismantle unauthorized outposts, release jailed Palestinian prisoners, discontinue building the West Bank barrier, and lift the siege against the Palestinian people.
Saudi ambassador to Washington Adel al-Jubeir stressed the Arabs would never recognize Israel as a Jewish state because of its Arab minority.
Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni, referring to Palestinian aspirations to statehood, acknowledged that the Palestinians in refugee camps need a state of their own, in the same way as the establishment of the state of Israeli imparted a sense of completeness to "all the Jewish refugees forced to leave Arab lands and Europe."
The Syrian deputy foreign minister Feisal Makdad said the precondition for the Arabs to establish normal relations with Israel was its withdrawal from all the lands captured in 1967.
President Bush earlier stated: The road map's provisions will be implemented immediately until a peace treaty is achieved under the supervision of a US-led Palestinian-Israeli mechanism. DEBKAfile: The Palestinian demanded for a multilateral mechanism was thus rejected. Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will hold biweekly meetings.
Israelis must do their part, said the US president: The occupation which began in 1967 must be replaced by a negotiated settlement for a homeland for the Palestinian people. Outposts must be removed and settlement expansion halted.
The US is committed to an Israel state as the homeland of the Jewish people.
Bush also stressed that the Lebanese people must be allowed to choose their present without outside interference and intimidation.
Olmert stressed that the incessant Palestinian missile fire on Sderot is a warning road marker. "We and you (Palestinians and Arabs) are running out of time," he said. "We want peace and are ready for a painful compromise. The reality of 1967 will change substantially." He then called for peace with all the Arab and Muslim states.
Abbas said the occupation must end, and called it the source of terrorism.