Everyone waiting for invitation to Annapolis
Israeli, Palestinian negotiations teams working on draft of joint statement to be presented at upcoming US-sponsored Mideast conference. US Secretary of State Rice due to visit region next week to observe progress in talks, may bring official invitations to summit
Four members of the Israeli delegation to Washington – including the prime minister's chief of staff Yoram Turbowicz, Foreign Ministry Director-General Aharon Abramovich, and the prime minister's diplomatic advisor Shalom Turgeman – are scheduled to return to Israel on Friday from meetings with representatives of the Bush administration in Washington.
The Israeli team and the prime minister will discuss the negotiations with the Palestinians ahead of the Annapolis summit and ahead of next week's visits to Israel by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband.
The Israeli and Palestinian teams may meet Saturday evening to continue to work on the draft of the joint statement which will be presented at the conference.
Will Rice bring invitations?
Israel is still waiting for notification on US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's next visit to the region. Rice is delaying her arrival in order to ensure that the Israeli and the Palestinian teams have reached agreements on the statement's principles.
According to expectations, Rice may arrive in the region next weekend and will bring along the invitations to the peace conference. Israeli officials have estimated that the conference will be held as planned and that the statements will be made on Tuesday, November 27.
Olmert is expected to leave for the United States in about a week. He will meet with heads of the Jewish community in New York and will fly to Washington the next day.
On Monday, November 26, US President George W. Bush is scheduled to have dinner with the Israeli prime minister and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
On Tuesday morning, the three leaders, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and other officials are expected to arrive in Annapolis, Maryland, about a one-hour drive from Washington. The three leaders will deliver their speeches and present the joint statement.
Olmert and Foreign Minister Livni are expected to return to Israel on Wednesday.