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.

 

Egypt delays Gaza talks after Israeli soldier kidnap

Libya jihadists declare Benghazi ‘Islamic emirate’

Morocco king deplores unequal wealth distribution

US plans largest ever sale of lethal missiles to Iraq

Qatar invests in Israeli soccer

Lebanon suspends work permits for Ebola-hit countries

Emirates Airline suspends flights to Guinea

Baghdad bomb blasts kill at least ten

Identification of Air Algerie crash victims ‘could take years’

Philippines prepares to evacuate 13,000 citizens from Libya

Jihadists fight on more than one front in Syria

Sudan Christian woman chooses US as final destination to settle down

France moves to disband violent Jewish group

Chief of Iran Quds Force ridicules calls to disarm Hamas

US supports Israel with weapons, Gaza with sweet words

Syria Kurds battle jihadists killing nearly 50

West watches post-Gathafi Libya descend in chaos

Carnage in Gaza Strip as death toll passes 1,300

Mosul’s residents rise up against jihadists

Militants fire at Tunisia army helicopter

Islamists capture key Benghazi army base

16 killed in Israeli shelling of UN school in Gaza

Italian fire-fighting planes to come to Libya rescue

Syria rebels advance towards Hama military airport

Bloodshed in Gaza surges amid no truce

Major western powers call for Libya ceasefire

US-Israeli ties sink to new depths over Gaza war

UN warns buying oil from terrorists could lead to sanctions

Air Algerie crash black boxes sent to France

Warning of Tripoli catastrophe after huge oil depot blaze

US, UN call for immediate Gaza ceasefire

Egypt army kills 14 jihadists in restive Sinai Peninsula

Calls for temporary Gaza ceasefire fall on deaf ears

Yemen army foils new Qaeda attempt to seize military posts

Investigators need ‘few days’ to probe cause of Algeria plane crash

Tunisia army suffers more losses in open war with terrorism

Jihadists advance amid escalation in Syria anti-regime offensive

Iraq Shiite militia takes bloody revenge against ‘Islamic State’ in Baquba

Fierce clashes kill at least 38 people in Benghazi

Israel resumes devastating military assault on Gaza

Thousands face famine as food security situation worsens in Somalia

Death toll in Gaza climbs as fragile ceasefire reveals destruction

Egypt summons Turkey charge d'affaires for second time in one week

‘Islamic State’ jihadists dynamite Shiite shrine in Mosul

US evacuates embassy staff in Libya over ‘real risk’