PM, Ban to discuss Gaza, Lebanon

Olmert lands in NY; PMO official: Little chance of international force in Strip.

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June 17, 2007 13:07
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Prime Minister Ehud Olmert landed early Sunday morning in New York and was preparing for a meeting at 1.30 p.m. local time with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. The talks were expected to focus on a number of issues, including the possibility of an international force in the Phiadelphi corridor and on the full implementation of UN Resolution 1701 in Lebanon. A senior Prime Minister's Office official said en route to the US that although Olmert asked that a draft plan be drawn up in Israel regarding the possibility of an international force on the Gaza border, there was little likelihood that such a deployment would materialize.

Special coverage: New Mideast reality
The official said that both Egypt and Hamas, whose cooperation would be necessary for this to take place, had expressed their objections. The official also said Israel wasn't interested in having a supervisory force there along the lines of what already exists at Rafah but rather an effective force to actively combat weapons smuggling. Regarding Lebanon, the official said Israel was generally pleased with UNIFIL's performance in southern Lebanon, noting however that there were some areas that UNIFIL troops did not enter. He said Olmert would bring up with Ban the continued arms smuggling across the Lebanon-Syria border, and that he was looking forward to hearing the results of report that Ban had commissioned. (The UN secretary general recently sent a team to the border to examine events in the area and was set to present the report to the UNSC in a week.) Regarding Gaza, the official said Israel wouldn't allow a humanitarian crisis in the Strip and that electricity and water would continue to be supplied. Without remarking on whether Israel would agree to any functional cooperation with Hamas, the official said there would be ways to get aid into the area. Before bording his plane for the US, Olmert told reporters that the new Palestinian government would create a "new opportunity" for the peace process. "We have a new opportunity ... that we haven't had in a long time," said the prime minister. "The situation has changed, which enables diplomatic progress ... We intend to act to take advantage of this situation," he said. "A government that is not Hamas is a partner."

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