Olmert: J'lem won't cut ties with Abbas

PM hopes upcoming trilateral talks will create conditions for dialogue.

February 15, 2007 22:17
2 minute read.
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There is no need to cut off ties with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas as a result of the Mecca agreement, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in Ankara on Thursday. Olmert's comments, made during a briefing with Israeli reporters, came on the eve of his trilateral meeting with Abbas and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice scheduled for Monday in Jerusalem. The conciliatory tone of Olmert's comments stood in contrast to remarks made by diplomatic sources in Jerusalem immediately after the Mecca agreement, in which they said that the agreement blurred the lines between Hamas and Fatah, and that Israel may as a result have to reevaluate its relationship with Abbas. Olmert said that he hoped Monday's meeting would "create conditions for dialogue" with the Palestinians, and said he expected the new government to clearly accept the Quartet's three principles: recognizing Israel, renouncing terrorism, and accepting previous agreements. "We expect this from every Palestinian government: to continue in the direction of the road map and accept the demands of the Quartet. This pledge must be done very openly and clearly without hesitation," Olmert told reporters. Olmert's spokeswoman Miri Eisin quoted Olmert as saying there would be no negotiations on final-status issues at the trilateral meeting, but rather "a discussion to describe a vision of the political horizon." One diplomatic official said that the trilateral meeting would concentrate on "how to resume the diplomatic process" in spite of the Mecca accords. Israel, the official said, would be interested in hearing from Abbas how he planed to deal with the new government and the issue of the three principles. Unlike the last Olmert-Abbas meeting in December, this time Olmert was not expected to make any gestures to Abbas to "prop him up," the official said. Meanwhile, Israeli, Palestinian and US technical teams met for a planning meeting Thursday at Jerusalem's David Citadel Hotel - the site of Monday's parley. Although at first it appeared that there would be a trilateral press conference following Monday's meeting, now it appeared that Rice will meet the press alone. No final decision on this, however, has yet been made. Rice is scheduled to arrive Saturday evening, and meet in Jerusalem with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. She is scheduled to meet separately with Olmert and Abbas on Sunday, and is also scheduled to meet Defense Minister Amir Peretz. US, EU, Russian and UN envoys are scheduled to meet as the Quartet on Friday in Jerusalem to discuss the trilateral talks. The Quartet principals are then scheduled to meet in Berlin on Wednesday to discuss the trilateral talks and chart out future diplomatic steps.

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