Saudi Arabia has announced that the WILL be attending the Annapolis gang up on Israel conference but the Saudi foreign minister said he would not allow "theatrics" such as handshakes with Israeli officials, insisting the meeting make serious progress.
I asked my cousin Binyamin the spy to find out the real reason the Saudi minister refuses to shake Israeli hands. He sent me this transmission via his secret pipeline (carrier pigeon, to a 7eleven in Iowa manned by Elvis --he isn't dead, Elvis sends it electronically to a cab driver in Canarsie Brooklyn who emails it to me.)
Anyway, this is what Binyamin told me "Cooties, the Saudis think that Olmert has Cooties. King Faisil says Olmert reminds him of this guy who he went to grade school with. Lenny Al-Kastruba who was the cootie monster of School 8. The guy used to dip hot dogs in milk before he ate them for heaven's sake! Because of Olmert's goofy demeanor, and that disgusting thing he does with his hair, the King is convinced that Olmert is the cootie monster and has instructed all of his subjects going to Annapolis not to shake hands with the Israelis as not to bring Olmert's Cooties back into the Kingdom."
There you have it. So when you read the AP report below remember----you know the REAL reason the Saudis are being Rude.
- CAIRO, Egypt and other Arab nations decided Friday to attend next week's U.S.-sponsored Saudi Arabia Middle Eastpeace conference. But the Saudi foreign minister said he would not allow "theatrics" such as handshakes with Israeli officials, insisting the meeting make serious progress.
It was still unclear whether
— the other major holdout — would attend. Syria has insisted the conference address its demands for the return of the Syria Golan Heights, a strategic plateau which captured in a 1967 war. Israel
The Arab decision was a collective one, including
. But after the announcement, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem told reporters: "We haven't made a decision to participate until we receive the agenda of the conference and read it to find an item addressing the Syrian-Israeli track, meaning the occupied Syria Golan Heights."
Participation by Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal was a key goal of the United States to show strong Arab support for the conference, which aims to relaunch Israeli-Palestinian peace talks for the first time in seven years. The
is hosting the talks from Nov. 26-28 in United States and Washington Annapolis, Md.
Until Friday, the kingdom had balked at saying whether it would attend and at what level, seeking assurances
would negotiate the most difficult issues of the Arab-Israeli conflict on a timetable. Israel
Al-Faisal told a news conference a meeting of the 22-member Arab League meeting had decided Arab countries will attend the conference at the level of foreign minister.
"I'm not hiding any secret about the Saudi position. We were reluctant until today. And if not for the Arab consensus we felt today, we would not have decided to go," al-Faisal said. "But the kingdom would never stand against an Arab consensus, as long as the Arab position has agreed on attending. The kingdom will walk along with its brothers in one line."
He insisted that the meeting deal with substantive issues.
"We are not prepared to take part in a theatrical show, in handshakes and meeting that don't express political positions," al-Faisal said.
would attend, Arab League chief Amr Moussa said: " Syria 's foreign minister was present" at the discussions and "the decision is a joint decision." Syria
But it was not entirely clear from his comments whether
could still decide not to attend or may send a lower-level representative. Syria
"We are waiting for final arrangements and it will take place in the additional talks," al-Faisal said. Those talks will take place in a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in
on Monday, a day before the Washington conference. Annapolis
, which does not have diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia , has feared the conference would become little more than a photo opportunity, cornering it into high-profile public contacts with Israel without a guarantee of concessions from the Jewish state. Israel
The kingdom was looking for an Israeli commitment that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations will tackle the core, most difficult issues of the conflict, such as final borders of a Palestinian state, the status of
and the fate of Palestinian refugees. Jerusalem
But in the end, it is going without a guarantee of getting those commitments in writing.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has sought to reassure Arab nations, saying negotiations would address the core issues and that a deal could be reached in 2008. But
has opposed a formal timetable for talks and the specific mention of the major issues in a joint declaration that is expected to be issued at Israel . Annapolis
welcomed the news that al-Faisal would attend. Israel
"We hope this is only the beginning and that we will see greater and broader Arab involvement in the peace process," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said. "For this process to succeed, both Arabs and Israelis will have to take bold steps."
and Saudi Arabia attended the 1991 Syria peace conference that brought together Madrid and Arab countries. But the kingdom and other Arab nations have been cautious over any steps that would be seen as "normalization" with Israel before it returns Arab lands seized in the 1967 war. Israel
The Arab League decision, made after intense discussions late Thursday and Friday, meant that the members of a league committee tasked earlier this year with dealing with the peace process will attend
. Those countries include Annapolis , Algeria , Bahrain , Egypt , Jordan , Lebanon , Morocco , Qatar , Saudi Arabia , Sudan , Syria and Tunisia . Yemen
Much of the day's talks were focused on trying to persuade
that the conference would at least in some way address the Golan issue. The league gathering sent a joint letter to Syria demanding that the conference deal with relaunching negotiations between Washington and Israel , which wants the full return of the Golan in return for peace. Syria
At Friday's Arab League meeting, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for the inclusion of the Syrian track at
According to Arab diplomats, while
's invitation did not specifically call for resumption of negotiations on the Golan, it referred to U.N. resolutions concerning the Arab-Israeli conflict as well as the 2002 Arab peace initiative, which calls for a return for Arab lands seized in 1967 in return for full peace with Washington . Israel
Earlier this week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said there would be room at
to talk about the Golan. Annapolis