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Washington is expected to confirm the date of the Annapolis peace parley only a week before the event, but the working assumption in Jerusalem is that the one-day gathering will take place two weeks from now, on Tuesday, November 27, with preparatory meetings the previous day.
Three main issues will be presented at the gathering; a joint statement on principles currently being drawn up by the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams, a statement by Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair on efforts to improve Palestinian Authority governmental institutions; and a report on efforts to strengthen the Palestinian economy.
Israel plans a series of goodwill gestures to boost the standing of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ahead of Annapolis.
The security establishment is currently reviewing a possible release of a few hundred Palestinian security prisoners, although the full cabinet will have to approve any recommendations brought before it. There will also be efforts to ease freedom of movement for West Bank Palestinians, as well as economic gestures.
Bilateral final status negotiations are due to begin immediately after the Maryland meeting, with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expected to remain in the US for a series of meetings after the conference.
Despite reports of a recent exchange of messages between Jerusalem and Damascus, senior Israeli officials have stressed that the prime minister is focused on the Palestinian issue and this remains the main track of the conference.
Olmert's long-held position is that it will be difficult for Jerusalem to work towards peace with two separate entities simultaneously.
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