Thursday, November 29, 2007

Livni berates Arab delegates for shunning her

Behind closed doors, Foreign Minister Livni asks Arab foreign ministers why they refused to interact with her. Kuwaiti paper reports high-profile secret meeting between Israel, Syria took place in Washington. "Why doesn't anyone want to shake my hand?" she asked. "Why doesn't anyone want to be seen speaking to me?" With these words, Foreign Ministry Tzipi Livni turned to Arab foreign ministers in a closed meeting during the Annapolis conference. They were directed at Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal.

The meeting was reported by the Washington Post on Wednesday, which provided some of the details.

Frans Timmermans, the Dutch Minister for European Affairs, said Livni told Arab foreign ministers to stop treating her as a pariah.

"They shun her like she is Count Dracula's younger sister," he is quoted as saying.

The Saudi foreign minister stated before the conference that he would not shake hands with any Israeli during the conference, claiming that doing so would only be an act of showmanship.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was quoted by the Post as discussing her upbringing in the segregated American south.

"Like the Israelis, I know what it is like to go to sleep at night, not knowing if you will be bombed, of being afraid to be in your own neighborhood, of being afraid to go to your church," Rice told attendants, according to the Washington Post. She discussed the bombing of black church by white supremacists,

which resulted in the death of four girls.

Rice also expressed empathy with Palestinians, saying:" I know what it is like to hear to that you cannot go on a road or through a checkpoint because you are Palestinian… I understand the feeling of humiliation and powerlessness."

"There is pain on both sides… This has gone on too long," Rice said.

Report: Report: Barak met with Syrian deputy FM
Did a high-profile meeting take place between Israel and Syria during the Annapolis peace conference this week?

Kuwaiti daily al-Jarida reports that the Palestinian track may not have been the only one being pursued by Israeli officials and claims Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal Mekdad met in secret at an unnamed hotel in Washington.

No further details were provided regarding the clandestine meeting and no official source confirmed it had

taken place.

The paper also reported that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert went to great lengths to organize a meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, but was repeatedly rejected. Al-Faisal allegedly crossed paths

with Barak in a hallway at the summit but looked away and left quickly.

According to the report a diplomatic crisis was narrowly averted after Lebanese Foreign Minister Tarek Mitri threatened to storm out of the conference after refusing to sit next to Mekdad so it would not appear as though Lebanon was dependant on Syria. Swift American intervention prevented the situation from deteriorating by rearranging the seating chart.


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