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Ehud, Aliza Olmert in Washington Photo: AFP
Ehud, Aliza Olmert in Washington Photo: AFP
 
First top-level meeting. Rice Photo: AFP
First top-level meeting. Rice Photo: AFP
 
 

Olmert, Rice discuss convergence

PM meets with US secretary of state in Washington, introduces plan for unilateral pullout from West Bank. Olmert, Rice also discuss Iran's influence on Hamas government, joint Israeli-American policy towards Palestinians

Yitzhak Benhorin
Latest Update: 05.23.06, 07:41 / Israel News

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met Tuesday with American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for a meeting later defined by the PM's associates as "excellent."

 

Olmert introduced before Rice his vision for the convergence plan and has answered her questions on the subject.Despite the American objection to the plan at this point, Israeli officials said that Rice expressed great interest in the issue of a unilateral withdrawal.

 

Olmert is set to meet President George W. Bush Tuesday night.

 

The Israeli PM stressed that if there is no Palestinian partner for peace negotiations and in the event Hamas continues to rule the Palestinian Authority, such a plan could promote a process that would enable Israel to defend its citizens and contribute to stability in the region.

 

The two leaders also spoke about the Iranian influence on the Hamas-led government, and the US and Israeli policy towards the Palestinians.

 

US concerned over escalation in PA

 

On Monday State Department officials expressed their concern with the situation in the Palestinian Authority.

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Department spokesman Tom Casey condemned the violence and criticized the Hamas-led government for failing to protect its people.

 

"We're troubled by this kind of escalation in intra-Palestinian violence," Casey said, adding that the Palestinians have a right to expect their leaders to offer them security.

 

Another top US official said it was clear that Hamas’ refusal to denounce terror hurt the Palestinian interest, as it may lead the Authority toward “more isolation.”

 

'No Palestinian partner for peace'

 

Referring to the internal situation in the territories, Casey said that it is evident that the Hamas government failed to answer the basic demands of the international community – their refusal to renounce terror, to recognize Israel, and to honor agreements achieved along with the Roadmap for peace initiative.

 

Casey did stress the importance of Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ role, saying he is an important player in the region and that the Americans welcome meetings like the one that took place in Sharm el-Sheik between Abbas and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

 

Top officials in Washington said there is no real Palestinian partner for peace as long as the Hamas government does not accept the basic conditions set by the Quartet. 

 

First Published: 05.23.06, 01:09

 

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