US President George W. Bush is not expected to express his support of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's convergence plan following his meeting with Olmert in Washington, the prime minister's aides estimated Tuesday night just before the prime minister's preparation delegation
was about to return from the American capital.
The delegation members met with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and senior White House staff.
During the Bush-Olmert summit, which is expected to last up to two hours, the president is expected to listen to the new prime minister's stance regarding the convergence. Bush, who is facing difficult problems from within as well as a drop in his popularity in public opinion polls in light of the ongoing war in Iraq, does not plan to delve into Olmert's plan for unilateral moves to set Israel's permanent borders.
Israel is aware of the US government's traditional stance, which supports setting permanent borders in an agreement and not unilaterally. European governments also back this stance.
The members of the preparation delegation – Yoram Turbowicz, the Prime Minister's Office chief of staff, and the political advisors Dov Weisglass and Shalom Turgeman – agreed with the Americans on the key issues for the visit.
They met with senior government officials, headed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, Deputy National Security Advisor Elliot Abrams and Assistant Secretary of State David Welch. The advisors are expected to brief Olmert on the agreements reached during the series of meetings in Washington.
Warm welcome expected
The assessment in Jerusalem is that Olmert’s stance on the Iran issue will win support in America.
“The US is and will remain committed to Israel’s security. The government sees eye to eye with Israel on the matter of the Iranian threat on the world’s security in general and on the Middle East in particular,” a diplomatic official said of the meeting.
The US president and top government officials will reiterate their commitment to Israel’s security. The top brass of the government will also support the uncompromising battle against Iranian-sponsored terrorism, as well as the isolation of the Hamas government as long as they refuse to denounce violence and recognize Israel.
Despite the lack of agreement on the convergence plan, Bush is planning to receive Olmert warmly. He views him as the natural successor of Ariel Sharon, and even if he did not pronounce this view explicitly during Israeli ballots in March, he supported Olmert’s election.
“There is no doubt that the prime minister’s visit is also important to President Bush, on the basis of his internal political situation and his strategic commitment to Israel,” a political official said.
“With that, we shouldn’t expect huge headlines or vital declarations to come out of the summit,” the official added.