The Palestinians want an upcoming joint peace statement with Israel to set a six-month schedule for the establishment of an interim but sovereign Palestinian state, according to a position paper prepared by the Palestinian negotiating team ahead of the planned US-hosted peace summit in Annapolis, Maryland.
The document, which was obtained by Ha'aretz, claims that the Palestinians have already implemented their security obligations under the first phase of the US-authored Road Map peace plan, and that the concluding statement at the Annapolis gathering should lock Israel into a fixed timetable for honoring its commitments.
The Road Map is a performance based plan that required the Palestinians to publicly renounce the use of terrorist violence against Israel, reform their education system to teach Palestinian children to no longer seek to become terrorists, and launch an intense and sustained campaign to dismantle the existing terrorist organizations. It also demanded government reforms leading to a end to the rampant corruption that plagues the Palestinian Authority. Despite being the recipients of the largest amount of foreign aid per capita in the world, the Palestinians continue to wallow in poverty.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the Bush Administration have both clearly rejected the Palestinian demand for a firm timetable, and insist that the peace process will only progress if both sides are meeting their obligations.
Olmert's refusal to get locked into a peace schedule, despite his stated willingness to meet most Arab demands, is likely linked to the Israeli intelligence community's assessment that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas lacks the ability to actually implement his side of any deal reached at Annapolis.
"Even if understandings are reached in Annapolis, the chances of implementing them in the field are almost zero," Army Radio read from an intelligence document recently prepared by Israel's internal security agency, the Mossad and Military Intelligence.
The document continued by pointing out Abbas is a nearly powerless leader, and that the "Palestinian Authority has no security apparatus capable of implementing agreements. The existing [security] forces are totally corrupt."