Wednesday, November 7, 2007
"07/11/2007 Israeli Military Intelligence believes that the upcoming U.S-sponsored Middle East conference scheduled to take place in late November in Annapolis is likely to fail, and that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas might step down as a result.
Abbas reportedly views the Annapolis conference as the last opportunity to resuscitate the settlement process. If he does go home in the wake of a failure of the talks, without a successor acceptable to Fatah, Abbas' departure would create a lacuna in the Palestinian leadership and increase Hamas influence.
According to Military Intelligence, Abbas' inner circle is cut off from the Fatah rank and file, and has difficulty exerting its authority over the various military wings of Fatah (the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades in the various West Bank cities) and its political activists. This lack of full control at the grass-roots level might make it difficult for the PA to fulfill its obligations as part of a diplomatic process.
As Israeli daily Haaretz reported a few weeks ago, MI believes the chances for success at Annapolis are "close to nil." The Israeli army believes the main obstacle is disagreement over the Palestinians meeting their obligations as part of stage 1 of the road map, set forward by the Bush administration in 2002: dismantling ‘terror’ infrastructure. The Palestinian Authority says it has met this obligation, and is not responsible for the Qassam rocket fire on the western Negev since the attacks emanate from the Gaza Strip, which is no longer under its control. Israeli occupation forces intelligence officers say the PA's main function has been reduced to paying salaries to PA workers and security forces.
Former senior Israeli army officers who took part in the Camp David talks say they are also concerned that over the lack of experience of Israeli representatives to the Annapolis talks, especially in the face of the years of experience the PA's negotiators have had in talks with Israel. "