Rice's "ViablePalestinianState" Would Shrink Israel out of JordanValley and Most of West Bank
DEBKAfile Special Analysis
New US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice's upcoming visit to the Middle East next week has galvanized the region's leaders into a frenzied round of travel and summit consultations. The centerpiece summit will bring together Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) at Sharm al Sheikh next Tuesday. Jordan's King Abdullah has also been invited.
Rice will take the place of President George W. Bush, who attended the last such forum, the 2003 Aqaba summit.
There are other differences.
Abbas will be coming from fruitful talks with Russian president Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin and Tayyep Erdogan in Ankara. He will have an Iranian invitation to Tehran in his pocket as well as Moscowâ€™s offer of military aid at some future date, including helicopters, to "counterbalance" US-British defense support for the Palestinians.
Wednesday, February 2, Egyptian intelligence minister Omar Suleiman turned up in Jerusalem after talks about a ceasefire in Cairo with two Palestinian rejectionist leaders, Jihad Islami's Ramadan Shalah and Hamas Khaled Mashal. Both are holding out for a power-sharing deal with the PLO without renouncing terrorism.
Not to be outdone in the travel stakes, Syrian president Bashar Assad suddenly flew to Amman Wednesday, February 2, to tap King Abdullah II on the goings-on and see where he could fit in.
Amid this flurry of movement, nothing has happened to change the
fundamentals at stake between Israel and the Palestinians. Rice made this clear on Monday, January 31, ahead of her visit to the region and at the previous Senate hearings before her confirmation last week: "Without a viable and contiguous Palestinian state that represents the aspirations of the Palestinian people - meaning enough land to function well - there will be no peace for either Palestinian people or Israelis."
This statement does not address the concerns troubling Jerusalem. She will no doubt be asked by Israeli officials how does that vision and the support lavished on Abu Mazen fit in with the refusal of nine Palestinian organizations, including Abbas' own Fatah, to halt their terrorist offensive against Israel, their acceptance of a lull at most - not a ceasefire - and his own refusal to dismantle them, as required in the first stage of the Middle East road map.
Answering senators' questions on January 18, she had this to say about her perception of a viable Palestinian state - and by definition Israel's future borders (which will apparently be determined by default):