What Middle East papers are saying

Rating: NNNNNIs all the noise simply a strategy to deflect from the startling decision of Saudi Arabia and Syria to.

Rating: NNNNN

Is all the noise simply a strategy to deflect from the startling decision of Saudi Arabia and Syria to openly sit and talk with Israel? The Annapolis conference further partitions the region into moderate Arab states and those that are not. It is the latter that, in Washington and Tel Aviv’s scheme, remain the obstacle to U.S. and Israeli plans for the region, while the former are being softened up to accept a possible military attack on Iran. For it is Iran – a country pursuing its right to develop nuclear energy independently – that is the invisible guest at a feast, the purpose of which is to further isolate Tehran.

Al-Ahram Weekly, Cairo

In the six months since the Bush administration announced the conference, too little preparation left the meeting, its agenda and goals in limbo until the final day. And despite U.S. assurances to Arab participants that Israel would make significant confidence-building gestures towards the Palestinians before the conference, these did not occur.

Jordan Times, Amman

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the possibilities for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement are real. The two sides should seek to reach initial specific agreements that will ease the economic suffering of Palestinians, reduce the oppressive Israeli military presence on the West Bank, freeze Israeli settlement building and maintain effective security from guerrilla attacks against Israeli civilians. Only then will Olmert and Abbas enjoy the wave of mainstream support they will need to sideline and marginalize the inevitable challenges from extremists in both camps.

Middle East Times, Cyprus

If indeed we are dealing with the question of the Jewish state’s life or death, why the hell should it matter that our top negotiator would be a failing prime minister suspected of many deeds of corruption, with the chances of him reclaiming his post following elections close to zero? And why the hell does it matter whether the “partner” is a weak leader and the Fatah (which he is an integral part of) is responsible for more than 50 per cent of terror attacks against us in recent years?

Yedioth Aharonot, Tel Aviv

Olmert has flung open the window of opportunity so wide and so publicly that it is barely conceivable that any Palestinian leadership could fail to notice and jump through it.

Arab News, Makkah

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