Saudis negotiating Middle East peace deal with Israel

Sunday Times:

THE Saudi Arabian government is emerging as a key player in talks to broker a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace agreement.

According to senior Israeli sources, Ehud Olmert, Israel’s prime minister, will soon meet high-ranking Saudi officials to explore the formation of a group of moderate Arab countries to negotiate with Tel Aviv over the future of the Middle East.

A preliminary meeting between Olmert and a leading Saudi representative took place in Amman, the Jordanian capital, at the end of September. According to Israeli sources, the Saudi was Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former ambassador to Washington and one of the closest advisers to King Abdullah, the Saudi ruler.

Olmert is believed to be considering a Saudi initiative, endorsed by the Arab League four years ago, as the basis for a peace settlement.

This would include the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and could lead to a formal peace deal between Israel and seven Arab countries: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, the Emirates, Morocco and Tunisia.

Olmert promised the Palestinians their own state last week in a conciliatory speech that he was said to have written himself.

Note the names missing from this deal. Probably the biggest is the Palestinians, followed by Iran and Syria. What is interesting is how this deal demonstrates the Sunni states' interest in getting something done on the Palestinian issue, before the coming conflict with Iran. Look for the Iranians, Syrians and Palestinians to try to screw up this deal. For the Palestinians this deal would mean the end of support for the removal of Israel by everyone but Iran and Syria. For Iran this deal would dash the presidents fantasy of Israel disappearing. The deal does have the ability to put the Iranians in a very small box.


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