Olmert and Rumsfeld discussed the way in which the Israeli government was dealing with the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, which it defines as a terror regime. Although the prime minister hoped to recruit support in America for his Convergence plan, he is concerned by the cold reception the US appears to be giving the plan to unilaterally withdraw from areas in the West Bank. The US has only asked to be elucidated on the plan’s basic foundations, and is withholding its endorsement of the plan. Olmert’s entourage, however, appears less concerned with the US response to the Convergence, and more distracted by the marginal coverage the visit is getting in the American media.
Olmert and Rumsfeld also discussed the security threats the two countries face, chief among them terrorism by Muslim radicals. They also reviewed the issue of Iran’s nuclear development program. Israel views the accelerating speed with which the Muslim country is pursing nuclear weapons as extremely worrying, and expects Tehran to be armed sooner than in the US prediction. Additionally, the two discussed continuing strategic cooperation between Israel and the United States.
US mum on convergence
Monday night Olmert explicated Israel’s Convergence plan to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and answered her numerous questions on the matter.
Diplomats who accompanied Olmert to Washington expressed hopes that in the press conference this evening, the American president would find a way of expressing his appraisal of the Convergence plan which would allow Olmert to return to Israel having achieved at least some political accomplishment. Olmert’s entourage hoped for something beyond Bush’s expected expression of support for Israel, its struggle against terrorism and its sanctions against the Hamas government.
The Israeli delegation would be pleased to hear such a declaration as, “Israel has the right to establish defendable borders in the absence of a Palestinian partner,” which could give Olmert a green light to start putting the convergence plan into action. With that, they would also be satisfied with a more moderate phrasing, such as, “Israel must assure the safety of its citizens within defendable borders,” – with no mention of a Palestinian partner.