'Peace where there is no peace'

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - According to Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, if the Bush administration doesn't make good on its promise to broker a Mideast peace agreement, the opportunity will be lost forever.

Abbas' remarks followed a private meeting with Jordanian King Abdullah in Amman.

If U.S. President George Bush's pledge "to make 2008 the year to broker peace, then there will never be any future chances to achieve this goal," Abbas told reporters at a press conference in Amman.

"[The US] must understand it is to play an active role, not just as a supervisor, by intervening directly to help make peace," Abbas said.

"[Israel also must] stop escalating the situation in the Palestinian territories and stop all attacks in the Gaza Strip, including firing missiles there," said the PA chairman.

Abbas made no mention of the daily Kassam rocket and mortar fire on southern Israeli communities, which are the reason for the IDF's (Israel Defense Forces) operations in Gaza.

Nor did he talk about how the IDF's counter-terror operations in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) have caught numerous suicide bombers before they could carry out their deadly missions.

Last month, PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams are moving far too slowly to produce a peace accord by year's end.

And Syrian ambassador to the United States, Imad Moustapha, also thinks prospects for a negotiated settlement during Bush's tenure in office are dim.

Before leaving for a visit to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Monday, Moustapha told The Associated Press that last November's U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace summit was merely "an exercise in public relations."

According to the Syrian ambassador, certain officials in the Bush administration believe "chaos is constructive in the region."

While Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni have both been very upbeat about the prospects for a negotiated settlement within the Bush administration's time frame, they too are beginning to have their doubts.

Speaking with Japanese business leaders in Tokyo yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he is no longer sure they'll achieve the timetable announced at the Annapolis meeting.

"We have a desire to reach an agreement in the year 2008, but I am not sure we will make it," Olmert said, adding that Israel "was determined to make a giant step forward to end this dispute once and for all."

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, overseeing the government during Olmert's four-day visit to Japan, expressed similar skepticism to the Jewish Agency's Board of Governors Tuesday.

"We expect the international community to respect the fact that the negotiations are bilateral," Livni said.

"There is no need to try to push us to compromise on things that we're unable to compromise on. I don't know if we will reach agreements -- or when," she said, adding that "there is also a price in doing nothing."

Livni criticized people who justify acts of terror by trying "to understand the motivations of terrorism." Such rationale doesn't yield solutions, she said.

It seems the broadest efforts by the Olmert government, undergirded by the Bush administration, to negotiate a peace settlement with the Palestinians are faring no better than the Camp David Peace Accords in July 2000, which heralded the second intifada (armed Palestinian uprising) in September of that year.

Sources: The Associated Press, The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz

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Tzippe Barrow

Tzippe Barrow

CBN News - Jerusalem Bureau

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