CAIRO, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- As preparations and
coordinating efforts are being made by both the United Sates and the Arab
countries to ensure the success of a U.S.-proposed international conference on
Mideast peace this fall, some Arab experts have expressed low expectations for
the U.S. parley.
Ahmed Maher, an ex-Egyptian foreign minister and an
expert of the Egyptian Shura Council, at a seminar organized by the
International Center for Future and Strategic Studies in Cairo recently, ruled
out possible breakthrough on the unprecedented Palestinian division, said
Egyptian Gazette, a local newspaper, on Sunday.
Maher also said that the controversial conference was
floated as Israel continued its attacks on the Palestinians.
Why Washington insists on convening the Mideast peace
conference at this particular time? Because the Palestinians are undergoing
their worst time in view of the Fatah-Hamas rift and their chance for achieving
political gains is nil, according to Maher.
He saw no light at the end of the dark tunnel without
a Palestinian unity, urging all the Arab countries to do their best in uniting
the Palestinian factions before the conference.
"Achieving Palestinian unity is the responsibility of
all parties and Arab countries should exert utmost efforts to reach a real
solution," Maher noted.
In the meantime, former Palestinian foreign minister
Zeyad Abu Amr, who was also attending the seminar in Cairo, insisted that the
peace meeting holds no hope for the Palestinian people without a unified
Amr urged Hamas to accept the opening of a
constructive dialogue with Fatah to unify their ranks at this crucial time,
otherwise this gathering would fizzle out.
Mostafa El-Fiqi, Chairman of the People Assembly's
Foreign Relations Committee, called on Fatah and Hamas to coordinate their
stances to put their house in order as Mahmoud Abbas is the President of all
El-Fiqi, moreover, described the international
conference as an attempt to whitewash the image of the United States, which was
dented after its "big fiasco" in Iraq.
Ahmed Youssef, head of the Arab League's Arab studies
and researches institute, agreed with El-Fiqi. He noted that the aim of this
conference is to cover the U.S. failure in Iraq and rally the Arab states to
Egyptian journalist Makram Mohamed Ahmed said that
the U.S. administration is in a desperate need of achieving a
Palestinian-Israeli deal to compensate for its failure in Iraq.
On Friday, U.S. President George W. Bush said that he
was "very optimistic" that a Palestinian state could be set up alongside Israel
and that the Mideast peace conference could lead towards peace in the region.
Meanwhile, senior Hamas leader and former Palestinian
prime minister Ismail Haneya has called on Arab countries to boycott the Middle
East peace meeting, calling on Arab brothers, particularly Saudi Arabia and
Egypt, to reconsider any decision to participate in this conference.
Haneya ruled out the slightest hope in the
conference, speaking out against "any normalization" of relations with Israel.
On the Palestinian-Israeli front, Israeli and
Palestinian negotiators are deeply divided over the content of a joint document
they are drafting for the Mideast peace conference, according to Palestinian
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian
President Abbas appointed top aides to find common grounds and the delegations
are expected to begin negotiations on Monday while their opening positions
Arab League Assistant Secretary General for
Palestinian Affairs Mohamed Sobeih warned that Israel has not shown any sign to
help restore confidence in the stalled Mideast peace process as they continue
the military operations in Jerusalem and the building of wall and settlements.
He noted that most of Israeli official statements try
to downplay hope for the U.S.-brokered conference that could reach a serious
peace document, because they are not serious in discussing final-status issues.
So far, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries without
diplomatic ties with Israel have been reluctant to commit due to lack of proof
that the meeting will address the core issues, such as the issue of final
borders, the status of disputed Jerusalem and Jewish settlements, as well as a
solution for Palestinian refugees.
Egypt, for its part, insists that the conference
achieve a comprehensive settlement on all tracks, particularly the Palestinian
issue, calling for a clear agenda of the conference.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is set to
visit the Middle East in mid October, which will lead her to Israel, the
Palestinian territories, Egypt and Jordan. More coordinating efforts are
expected during her visit, she is to follow up the outcome of ongoing
Palestinian-Israeli talks and make preparations for the peace conference which
is likely to be held in Annapolis, Maryland of the United States in late
Earlier in July of this year, U.S. President George
W. Bush proposed to hold an international conference this fall, which would
include Israel, the Palestinians, and some neighboring Arab states, to help
resume the stalled Middle East peace talks.