An Event and a Regional Trend

The available data in the area refer to contradictory expectations concerning the conference that Bush called for on the Palestinian issue. It is clear that the complex which faces this project revolves around Israel’s rejection to give up the previous preliminary declarations related to the topic of the Palestinian state and its insistence on not changing its stand towards the issue of Jerusalem and the right to return. Most of the articles and reports of the Arab press have considered the idea of trading, proposed by Shimon Perez as an implementation of the operation of deporting the 1948 Palestinians and fixing the project of settling Palestinian refugees outside their homeland after absorbing some of them in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The proposed trading provided also for confiscating basic parts of the West Bank, where settlement blocs were established.
On the Palestinian level, it is clear that the US pressures and the Israeli conditions push the Palestinian president and his associates to more cooperation between the Palestinian authority and the Israeli intelligence. This coincides with Israel’s rejection of any step or initiative in politics that Abbas can offer as an achievement to enhance his position in the Palestinian arena, which clings to the option of resistance after the Palestinian street was disappointed at Oslo and the political process.
This problem makes Bush’s conference on the Palestinian issue a mere political festival, which will be concluded by a declaration of principle and the Arab capitals’ recognition of Israel and the elimination of resistance factions.
This scene pushes Cairo to demand Syria’s participation in the conference while Riyadh thinks its participation is useless despite its declaration about its practical readiness for the conference.
Within this context, Rice’s tour in the area will not be able to offer a clear answer in this respect.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

The initiative launched by Nabih Beri in his speech has raised reactions and comments, which reveal that it will be the center of coming political developments and events concerning the last chance to find a solution to the presidential merit’s crisis.
The House speaker announced withdrawing the condition of forming a unity government before electing the president in return for a consensus on the principle of the constitution quorum and directing a comprehensive conciliatory process that covers the personality of the president, who will form this government.
The main bloc of the loyalists expressed its intention to study the initiative while this step will have good echoes in some of the loyalists’ circles, which previously announced their bias to the quorum of the two thirds, contrary to the stands of Walid Jumblatt and Samir Geagea, who adopted the half plus one quorum or electing the president with the present representatives and rejected any compromise. Analysts considered this as a preparation for escalation after receiving the green light from Washington, which announced today its determination to use Lebanon as a base for its movement on the level of the area, thus raising the Lebanese fears.
Berri’s initiative offers a new opportunity but this is linked to the options of the loyalists, who hold discussions with the Arab and Western capitals that support them.
The French initiative is not far from the two items of Berri’s initiative but it is not sufficient to guarantee its success amid questions on the reality of the Saudi stand towards the Lebanese condition, while Damascus’s recent statement on the French president’s speech reflects a good sign which did not receive the attention it deserves in the political and press circles.

Arab and International Press

Paul Roberts said in an article published in the Spanish website Rebelion that no US president can confront Israel, pointing out that many Americans do not know anything about the influence of the Jewish lobby in their country.
Victor Shalhub said, is a study on the US arena, that the US is divided and open to surprises and that the two files of Iraq and presidential elections dominate the political scene.
David Ignatius said, in an article published in the Washington Post, that the US intelligence has proposed a 20 millions dollars project to confront Iran’s influence in Iraq.
Jerusalem Post said: former Israeli minister Natan Sharansky has vehemently criticized Egypt and Saudi Arabia, saying: he tried many times to convince Bush not to allow holding the elections that brought Hamas to power. Sharansky hailed Bush and Rice for encouraging freedom in Syria, Lebanon and Egypt.
The Israeli paper Yidioth Ahronoth said the Israeli company TeraPro has won a bid for building a hall with high security qualities in Kabul airport.
The Israeli paper Maariv said: tension escalates between Russia and Israel in the light of reports on the Russian military support to Syria, pointing out that Russia intends to deploy ballistic surface-to- air missiles in Syria.

Lebanese Press

Al-Hayat paper said: House Speaker Berri has pledged to launch dialogue, warning from evil consequences.
An-Nahar said: Berri gave up the unity government’s demand and called for adopting the two thirds quorum.
As-Safir said: the beginning of September will witness a season of merits that may push the country to the edge of explosion.

Arab Satellite Stations’ Interviews

Program : A Special Statement
One of Hamas leaders, Talal Nasser said there is an Israeli-US project that the Palestinian authority has accepted to serve.

Lebanese Television Stations’ News

Al-Manar said: House Speaker Nabih Berri has stressed clinging to national unity to face the country’s enemy.
The NTV said Berri gave up the unity government in return for a consensus on electing the president.
The NBN said Berri’s initiative is a qualitative achievement that aims at saving the country.
The OTV said Berri has tried to activate dialogue through a pure Lebanese initiative.
The LBC said: Berri has narrowed the margin of options through talking about a consensus on the elected president.
The Future said Berri has launched an initiative, saying it aims at preventing schism.

Tendencies is a daily political watch newsletter about the Near East, issued by New Orient News agency in Beirut, Lebanon. It is available on in Arabic, English and French languages. Also worth a read is Indicators, the daily Near East economic watch newsletter, available in Arabic and English.