Sources in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office said expectations were not high ahead of Monday’s summit meeting between Olmert, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
“Peace won’t 'break out' in the three-way summit with Rice and Abbas,” a senior official said Sunday evening.
“Abbas will have to go back to Hamas and demand a change in stance in order for the international community and Israel to accept the new unity government,” the official said.
The first part of the summit will take place between Olmert, Rice, and Abbas. Members of their envoys will join the summit afterwards. The meeting is expected to last about three and a half hours.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, and Vice Premier Shimon Peres will be present at a lunch party following the meeting.
Apart from the Quartet’s conditions, other issues will be discussed at the summit, including the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, ending Qassam rocket fire and terror acts, and putting a stop to smugglings from Egypt into the Gaza Strip.
'Olmert to avoid putting Abbas in difficult position'
Since Israel and the US have already decided on rejecting the unity government if it did not acknowledge Israel, Abbas is likely not expecting the government to be accepted as he cannot guarantee Hamas’ stance on the issue.
According to a senior government source, Olmert will do his best to avoid putting Abbas in a difficult position. Olmert wants to preserve the relationship with the Palestinian President in order not to create a wedge in the Palestinian camp in which Hamas would be the extreme camp.
Livni made Israel’s stance on the issue clear during the weekly government meeting Sunday.
“The Palestinians tried to create a vague formula through the Mecca agreement. Although there is no disagreement with the US or Europe, what was agreed on does not fulfill the international community’s three conditions,” Livni said.
A senior official at Olmert’s office emphasized that the prime minister repeatedly said he would be willing to negotiate with Hamas if the organization accepted the Quartet’s three conditions.