Saturday, June 23, 2007

PM shelves U.S. proposal for negotiations with Abbas

"Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rejected, during his visit to the United States last week, a proposal by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Israel negotiate a permanent settlement with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.......

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni shares Rice's approach, but Olmert is strongly opposed to the idea. He believes that any settlement reached should be implemented, and fears a situation in which Israel approves the agreement, but Abbas fails to sell it to the Palestinian public. In that event, Israel might be pressured to make further concessions to make Abbas' task easier.

Olmert agreed several months ago to launch talks with Abbas over "a political horizon," on condition that these deal not with the three core issues - Jerusalem, permanent borders and the refugees - but only with the nature of the future Palestinian state, its systems of government and law and security arrangements for the territories. Political sources in Jerusalem say that as Abbas becomes stronger and more able to sell the agreement to his people [my translation: to impose the agreement by force], Israel will agree to expand the discussion agenda to include the core issues......."

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