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Analyst: Skeptical about 'road map' chances

Charles Enderlin
Charles Enderlin

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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday evening will hold the first Israeli-Palestinian summit in more than two years.

The Palestinians are expected to urge Sharon to embrace the "road map" to peace, while Israel will seek proof that Abbas is disarming Palestinian militant groups.

Charles Enderlin, author of "Shattered Dreams: The Failure of the Peace Process in the Middle East, 1995-2002," spoke Saturday to CNN Anchor Robin Meade about the expectations for the summit.

MEADE: Could [Saturday's] talks be the start of the dreams being pieced together, or have they not learned enough from the past, Charles?

ENDERLIN: I am quite skeptical about the chances of this road map. Both sides already for 2 1/2 years not having any dialogue, any negotiations. In fact, the only dialogue is through bombs, through suicide attacks and military incursions. Just to give them a paper and tell them to implement it is not enough.

Mr. [Mohammed] Dahlan, the Palestinian chief of security, chief of security [for] Abbas, the prime minister, will ask for two months of special quiet from the Israelis. No military incursions in Gaza and no targeted killings so that he will have the time to try to restore calm. But he will also ask for a political gesture from Prime Minister Sharon, and this will be for him, a problem.

MEADE: [Chief Palestinian negotiator] Saeb Erakat resigned [this week]. You knew him well. What do you make of that?

ENDERLIN: Already for two years, Saeb Erakat [has said] he's very tired. I quote, "Tired from the Israel situation, from the Palestinian situation." He threatened several times to resign. This time what triggered it is the fact that he was not invited to the meeting with Ariel Sharon and also he's deeply dissatisfied with the political concessions that Mr. Abbas is requesting from Prime Minister Sharon.

MEADE: Do you think that it provides a clue about possible dissent against the new prime minister then?

ENDERLIN: Prime Minister Abbas has a real problem. If, within a few weeks, maybe a month or two, he doesn't bring a real change for the way of life for the Palestinian population, he will have probably to resign.

We have a very tragic situation. [On] the Palestinian side [an unprecedented]humanitarian crisis, and on the Israeli side, the worst economy crisis since the creation of the state of Israel. Most [of the] population [doesn't] believe anymore in the process.

MEADE: In your book, what I got from it was that you convey the importance of empathizing with what the other side is going through. Especially a site important to Israelis and to Islam. Do you have any hope about that?

ENDERLIN: This was, I believe, one of the mistakes of the Camp David summit in July 2000. In the end, the Israelis and Americans didn't understand it's a very tough position Arafat took about the Temple Mount [as it's known] for the Jews -- and Haram al-Sharif [as it's known] for the Arab world.

For the Jews, it is where Abraham made the sacrifice of Isaac, and for the Palestinians, for the Muslims, it was never a Jewish temple, but a faraway mosque and the separation of Isaac didn't exist. It was the sacrifice of Ishmael in Mecca. To tackle the problem from the beginning was a mistake.

Later on, when they negotiated in January 2001, there was progress [on this issue], and I believe ultimately when they get to it, an agreement is possible.

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