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A Palestinian mini-state linked to Iran strike - Nasser Lahham

Sept. 27, 2009 9:17 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 28, 2009 6:45 P.M.)
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel has been holding secret meetings with Arab leaders over the past several months with the aim of establishing a miniaturized Palestinian state and in hopes of gaining Arab acquiescence in a first strike on Iran.

According to Ma’an’s well-placed sources, Israeli President Shimon Peres has been the “godfather” of these meetings. Their aim is to “resolve” the Palestinian issue which has dogged Israel for decades and clear the agenda for an attack on Iran.

Iran is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s top priority. When he took office in March, he held a meeting with his military commanders to discuss Iran’s nuclear program. Observers expected at that time that Israel was ramping up toward a first strike in autumn of 2009.

On his visit to the US this past week, Iran has been Netanyahu’s first talking point. He lashed out against “Iranian lies” in his address to the United Nations General Assembly. In meetings with US Congressional leaders (Democrat Nacy Pelosy and Republican Mitch McConnel) on Saturday, he reaffirmed his view that Iran must be confronted.

On Sunday Netanyahu held a meeting with key cabinet ministers to brief them on the outcome of his meetings in New York. On Wednesday he will meet with the political-security cabinet, and the full cabinet on Thursday.

According to Ma’an’s sources, US President Barack Obama is interested in the Geneva Initiative as the basis for a potential mini-Palestinian state. Sources also say that Palestinian and Israeli negotiators have begun reviewing the documents from the Geneva Initiative.

The initiative was an informal peace agreement between prominent Palestinian and Israeli figures, first announced in 2003 and categorically rejected the same year by Israeli leader Ariel Sharon. Its progenitors were former Israeli minister Yossi Beilin and PLO official Yasser Abed Rabbo. Obama is said to be interested in the fact that the initiative addresses even the small details of a potential agreement.

Obama’s reported enthusiasm for the proposal could explain why Abed Rabbo accompanied President Abbas to New York, while the newly-elected Fatah leadership did not.

The notion of a miniature Palestinian state could also explain Prime Minister Salam Fayyad appears eager to implement his plan build a state within two years, in spite of the public’s skepticism of the viability of the plan.

One unknown variable, however, is the attitude of the Fatah leadership toward the Geneva Initiative.

One Fatah leader who spoke on the condition of anonymity said, “I think that the Geneva document deals with all of the details of the daily conflict with the [occupation] yet it will cause a political spark concerning the issue of Jerusalem.”

“If Israel and the Arabs accept placing Jerusalem under international supervision then the matter might lead to a national referendum, in case Hamas refused to hold elections,” the official added.

All of this positioning and maneuvering however, is a rouse to distract the Palestinian and Arab leadership, and convince them to be silent during an attack on Iran. After carrying out an attack, Israel will drop any commitments it may make regarding a Palestinian state, as George W Bush did after the US attacked Iraq.
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