An Event and a Regional Event

The new Palestinian-Israeli meetings do not seem prepared to produce anything new on the Palestinian track in the shadow of the Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert’s clinging to the rejection of any timetable and insistence on issuing a new declaration of principles at Annapolis conference as it happened in the previous meetings in Washington, Sharm el-Sheikh and Oslo.
Informed Palestinian sources said that the Israelis try to persuade Abbas to offer more security cooperation with the Israeli intelligence organs in the West Bank to chase the resistance factions in return of the US financial aids to the Palestinian authority. Some sources said that the Mossad is already acting freely in the West Bank and commits murders behind the curtain of the Palestinian authority.
On the Israeli level, a large number of Israeli analysts and writers discuss the equations of profit and loss in Annapolis conference. Those who support participation in the conference say that although Olmert will offer Abbas rhetoric concessions, the normalization of relations with one Arab country like Saudi Arabia will open the way for an Israeli-Saudi alliance which will change the face of the area on the economic, political and security levels. If this equation succeeds Israel will be able to get rid of the right to return through financial compensations that the Saudis pay to the Diaspora Palestinians while the US will militarily christen this alliance through directing it against Iran and Syria or any Arab side that expresses after the conference its adoption of the continuity of the struggle with Israel.
Those who call for not betting on this conference warned from the danger of a third Palestinian intifada that may completely change the equation and impose on Israel new priority and may oust Abbas and his authority and replace them with a generation of radical Palestinian leaders from Fath. This will mean a victory for Hamas and its option.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

Samir Geagea announced his rejection of the list of candidates selected by Bkerki’s meetings and discussions, while patriarch Sfeir stressed the impossibility of naming a specific person. The press and political circles wonder about the next step that the Maronite patriarch will take after it became clear that the resumption of dialogue between the house speaker and representative Saad Hariri depends on the results of Sfeir’s endeavors.
The escalating stands of the loyalists appear on both the internal and external fronts while their US sponsor insists on imposing dictations and conditions that aim at changing the presidential merit into a station within the framework of the US plan’s progress in the area in general and in Lebanon in particular. What was remarkable yesterday is Samir Geagea’s sharp and violent rejection of any conciliatory meetings before his meeting with the Egyptian foreign minister.
Abu al-Gait’s visit enhanced the impression that the crisis will continue. His visit was described as public relations that aim at stressing the Egyptian presence denying that this Egyptian movement is related to the nomination of general Michel Suleiman for presidency. It seems that this came as a response to the desire of the Saudis and the loyalists who wait for the last American word. But it seems that proposing the name of Michel Suleiman means that Washington accepted the logic of compromise and withdrew its support for confrontation.

Arab and International Press

Christian Science Monitor said Israel prepares to cut electricity form Gaza to avenge the missiles attacks by Palestinian militants.
Boston Globe said the US president George Bush and Vice-president Dick Cheney issued public warnings against Iran and this means the US prepares for attacking Iran.
Los Angeles Times quoted an American official as saying that the armed men accused of killing US soldiers receive their orders form Iran.
The Iranian paper Roz said the Arab and Iranian sources differed in interpreting the reasons that led to the ousting of Ali Larijani, pointing out that president Mahmud Ahmadinejad does not trust many officials.
The Emirate paper Al-Khaleej said that the US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice stressed in a speech before the committee on foreign affairs at the Congress that the two-state solution in Palestine is in danger, blaming the Palestinian extremists and their supporters for this.

Lebanese Press

An-Nahar said the Egyptian initiative aims at reaching an understanding on the president without foreign interventions.
As-Safir quoted the Egyptian foreign minister Abu al-Gait as saying that what is required is a dialogue that results in a political understanding that the presidency forms a part of it.
The paper added that there are hidden mines that threaten the Maronite initiative, pointing out that the Egyptian foreign minister’s visit is an expression of good intentions and does not ascend to the level of a rescue initiative.
Al-Akhbar quoted patriarch Sfeir as saying that the understanding between Berri and al-Hariri is not enough for the presidential merit.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said the Egyptian foreign minister Abu Al-Gait did not carry with him an initiative but advises and visions for conciliation, pointing out that Hezbollah’s delegation’s visit to Bkerki was fruitful.
The NTV said the Egyptian foreign minister moves in the circle of the dangerous time and his visit did not result in any solution.
The NBN wondered if the Egyptian foreign minister’s visit led to any solution on the track of the compromise, while the OTV said the presidential merit seems like smuggled materials that can only pass in secret.
The LBC said the Egyptian condensed movement does not compensate the Syrian-Saudi dichotomy and Abu al-Gait’s meeting with Berri and al-Hariri does not form an alternative to his other meetings with other Lebanese sides.
The Future said Hezbollah’s delegation visited the patriarch and stressed its support to the Christian agreement on the coming president.

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.