First Published: 2006-05-22

 
Olmert prepares for first summit with Bush
 

Israeli PM’s talks with US President will focus on his plans to redraw Israel’s recognized borders.

 

Middle East Online

By Ron Bousso - WASHINGTON

His first talks with Bush

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert prepared Monday for his first talks with US President George W. Bush that will focus on the Israeli leader's plans to redraw Israel's recognized borders.

Olmert arrived in the US capital Sunday and planned to hold talks Monday evening with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice focusing on the stalled peace process with the Palestinians as well as Iran's nuclear program.

The prime minister, who is scheduled to meet Bush at the White House on Tuesday, will seek to bolster the Jewish state's relations with its chief ally, which are instrumental in his ambitious plan to redraw the map of the Middle East.

In a similar way to his predecessor, Ariel Sharon, who led the withdrawal of Israeli troops and settlers from the occupied Gaza Strip, Olmert will use his visit to "show himself as a reliable and serious leader who can implement historic moves," a senior government official said.

The newly-elected premier has vowed to dismantle dozens of Jewish settlements in the West Bank by 2010 in order to assure Israel's defensible and viable borders.

But in turn he wants to cement control over the big housing blocs where the vast majority of the quarter of a million settlers live - with or without agreement from the Palestinians.

Despite his determination to push forward with his plan, Olmert will assure the US Administration that his government was determined to hold talks with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmud Abbas before turning to unilateral steps.

"Olmert will open negotiation channels with Abbas, but they will be measured in months," the official said. "He needs to convince himself, the US and the Arab states that such an option has been exhausted."

But in order for the negotiations to succeed, Israel expects Abbas to reciprocate first of all by dismantling Palestinian terror infrastructures, including the radical Hamas movement, which leads the government.

"The US has to put pressure on Abbas to use his constitutional powers to dissolve the Hamas government... there will be no talks unless Abbas delivers," the official said.

Israel's deputy premier Shimon Peres said Sunday that Olmert will meet Abbas after his return from Washington.

In the meanwhile, Peres and Israel Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni held talks with Abbas on the sidelines of an economic conference in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Seikh in what was the highest-level contact between the two sides since the shock election win of Hamas.

Livni vowed they would act to prevent a humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territories, in the grip of massive financial problems after Israel and the West cut aid to the Hamas-led government.

Israel and the US accuse Iran of leading a secret programme to obtain nuclear weapons, although the Islamic state insists will be used for peaceful goals.

Coupled with Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's threat to wipe Israel of the map, the Jewish state sees Iran's atomic ambition as an existential threat.

"The coordination we had in the past over the Iranian issue will continue and will probably improve" following the meeting, the official said.

 

Drone strike kills at least 30 ‘Qaeda’ suspects in south Yemen

Without proof, France fires new chemical accusations at Assad regime

Kuwait shuts two papers for breaking news blackout on 'coup tape'

Twitter seeks to end ‘war’ with Erdogan: Two ‘leak accounts’ blocked!

Female candidates push rights issue to fore of Iraq election campaign

Rouhani engages in sweet talk: Iran women not second class citizens

Involvement in violent protests sends Morsi supporters behind bars

Suicide bomber targets Imam Kadhim University in Baghdad

Worse yet to come in South Sudan: Three-year-old nation on brink of collapse

Assad visits Maalula to celebrate ‘victory’ and ‘Easter’

Islamists kill 11 soldiers in worst attack on Algeria army in years

Kidnappers of Tunisian diplomat demand jailed Libyans release

Landmine blasts Tunisia soldier amid growing jihadist threat

Marzouki sets an 'example' by cutting salary by two-thirds

Rouhani: Iran does not intend to be aggressive but can defend itself

Turkey to Russia: We demand a gas price revision

An extraordinary meeting: Gulf ministers agree to end tension with Qatar

US releases $450 million Iranian frozen assets

‘Retaliation is life’ group vows to attack Egypt security forces

For Massacre-scarred Algeria village, peace is worth more than wealth

An act of heroism: Iraq policeman sacrifices himself to shield army recruits

UK ‘determined to catch’ killer of Libya embassy policewoman

Experts: Washington demanded removal of Saudi spy chief

Future of Algeria on wheelchair

Palestinians rally for solidarity with Israel-held prisoners

Turkey may clinch bid to dismantle Italy’s wrecked ship

Israeli, Palestinian negotiators to hold meeting with US envoy

UN ‘gravely concerned’ about South Sudan oil state fighting

South Sudan war: Child soldiers consumed by desire for retribution

Algerians casting their vote for president

Syria world’s most perilous country fro journalists

Egypt jails ex-presidential hopeful for fraud

Egypt leftist leader urges all revolutionary groups to unite

Jordan ‘destroyed’ combat vehicles entering from Syria

South Sudan army loses key oil town of Bentiu

Lebanon parliament soon to elect new president

Zarif to discuss Caspion Sea states in Russia

MERS spreading in Saudi Arabia

Algeria finally opens its piggybank to lure back exiled youth

Suicide bombs rock Ramadi government compound

Three Palestinians killed in Gaza blast

Peace talks delayed after Palestine blamed for fatal shooting

Palestinians clash with Israeli police in Al-Aqsa

Undercover New York police unit that spied on Muslims disbanded

Washington will not issue visa for Iran UN envoy