PRESIDENT Mahmud Abbas’ summit with the Israeli leader Ariel Sharon, which was due today, has been cancelled after Abbas said he was opposed to a public relations event and wanted a summit that would be serious and meaningful.
After his remarks, the Palestinian-Israeli committee seeking to work out a summit agenda could reach no agreement and the summit, which was arranged at the behest of King Abdullah of Jordan, collapsed.
Several days of talks had not been able to break the deadlock, the problem being that the Israelis were not willing to discuss the principal issues that the Palestinians wished to raise.
‘We cannot attend the meeting without adequate preparation,’ Israeli PM Ariel Sharon told his weekly cabinet meeting, meaning that there could be no meeting unless the Palestinians had previously been softened up by Bush to agree to Israeli proposals.
The immediate Palestinian demands thus remained undiscussed and therefore unresolved, including the freeing of all prisoners and Israeli troop withdrawals from the still occupied West Bank.
The summit breakdown came amid new violence, after three Palestinian teenagers were killed by Israeli troops near the Gaza border.
The Israeli military said soldiers opened fire at three figures they said were seen crawling towards the border fence, near the southern Kissufim crossing point, only to discover that the three were Palestinian workers seeking to get to work inside Israel.
Abbas is now due to travel to Washington later this month for talks with US President George W Bush.
The main immediate areas of disagreement involve re-opening the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, possible future Israeli troop withdrawals from Palestinian towns in the West Bank and the release of the many thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention.
However, the real problem behind the failure of the summit is that Israel having withdrawn from the Gaza Strip is determined to consolidate its position on the West Bank, and to make the huge bloc of Jewish settlements, that begin in East Jerusalem, part of Israel.
It is therefore not prepared to discuss the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners and the withdrawal of the occupation army from parts of the West Bank, until it has completed its Separation Wall and is ready for a final settlement, which the US will have to help impose on the Palestinians.
The plan is that annexation of the main West Bank settlements will leave Israel bigger and more powerful, after absorbing huge chunks of the West Bank and most of East Jerusalem into its state, while the Palestinians will be left with an anti-climax – the heart of their Palestinian state will be Gaza, plus the addition of various Palestinian cities in the West Bank, Ramallah, Hebron, Jenin and Jericho.
The key meeting is Bush’s meeting later on this month with Abbas. There Bush will prepare a new summit between Abbas and Sharon by attempting to force Abbas to agree to the Israeli programme for the West Bank.
Then Sharon will participate in what he will term a properly prepared summit, where he will be prepared to discuss the release of all Palestinian prisoners and other issues as the price for a deal.
In fact, a viable Palestinian state cannot be built without Israel withdrawing from the entire West Bank. This it will never do, meaning that a third Palestinian Intifada is inevitable.
In fact, the state of Palestine will only be achieved as part of the movement of the Iraqi, Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian people to drive imperialism and Zionism out of the Middle East.
Only when this is achieved will there be a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, and where Muslims, Jews and Christians can live in peace.