Olmert and Abbas to meet regularly

The Palestinian president and the Israeli prime minister have agreed to hold meetings every two weeks, Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, has announced.

Olmert and Abbas to meet regularly

The Palestinian president and the Israeli prime ministerhave agreed to hold meetings every two weeks, Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary ofstate, has announced.

Rice said on Tuesday that Mahmoud Abbas and Ehud Olmert would focus onsecurity issues at first, but could discuss the formation of a Palestinianstate. 

 

"They achieved something, which is the very regularisedmeetings between the two of them, in which they will not just talk about theirday-to-day issues, but also about a political horizon," Rice told a newsconference in Jerusalem.

 

"We are not yet at final status negotiations. These areinitial discussions to build confidence between parties," she added.

'Political horizons'

The US secretary of state said she would ocassionally take part in themeetings.

Lieutenant general Keith Dayton, Rice's envoy, will try to set benchmarks withthe Israelis and Palestinians, for stopping rocket fire from Gaza and improving the movement ofPalestinian travellers and cargo at Israeli-controlled crossings.

"I really dont see what political horizons she was talking about,"Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera's Middle Eastanalyst, said.

"She's basically going back to the roadmap, as if there is no Palestinianceasefire, as if there is no Arab peace plan, as if there is no serious efforton the part of the Arab world to give Israel a serious political horizon ...instead Miss Rice is back again talking about security arrangements andbenchmarks."

'Complex' peace process

Saeb Erekat, the senior Palestinian negotiator, said Rice had "managed tokeep the door open between us and Israel".

While Israel hadtried to limit discussions to humanitarian and security issues, he said, Riceensured that talks would include a "political horizon," if not afinal status deal.

David Baker, an official in Olmert's office, said:"The prime minister is interested in keeping an open line of dialogue withthe Palestinian Authority chairman on humanitarian and security-related issuesand has met with him twice in the last month."

Olmert had once called Abbas a "partner forpeace" but after the formation the Hamas-Fatah coalition, he said he wouldlimit talks with the Palestinian president to humanitarian or similar immediateconcerns.

Rice said that the peace process had been made"more complex" by the presence of Hamas, which refuses to recognise Israel andrenounce violence, in the Palestinian unity government which was sworn in lastweek.

Arab summit

Rice held three days of meetings with Israeli,Palestinian and Jordanian leaders ahead of an Arab summit in Saudi Arabiawhich plans to revive a 2002 peace plan.

"The Arab states must being reaching out to Israel ... to show Israelthat they accept its place in the Middle East,"Rice said.

The Arab proposal calls on Israel towithdraw from all territories it occupied during the 1967 war, in exchange forrecognition by the Arab world.

"I think that the Arab states would argue thatthey have already reached out in a very significant way and that the iniativethat was put in 2002 was quite clear," Jacky Rowland, Al Jazeera'scorrespondent in Jerusalem,said.

"It was the Arab states saying that inprinciple they were ready to fully recognise Israeland fully estabish relations with Israel providing certain conditionswere met.

"From the Israeli point of view, they arelooking for some changes, some moderation to the proposals set out in thatSaudi document."

Source:Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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