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.

 

Iraqi PM urged Kurdistan to drop any plans for independence

Erdogan threatens to send millions of refugees to EU

Moscow ready to discuss modalities of ceasefire in Syria

Train derails in Egypt’s Bani Sueif province

Iran making fresh pitch for tourists

Russia accuses US planes of hitting Aleppo

Anti-ISIS coalition looks to decisive new phase

Turkey, Israel open new normalisation talks

Assault on Aleppo displaces tens of thousands

Moroccan King inaugurates Aquaculture Farm in Oued Ed-dahab

Turkish forces end operation in southern town

NATO launches unprecedented Aegean migrant naval mission

Suspected PKK militants attack two Turkey pro-govt newspapers

Iranians mark 37 years since Islamic revolution

Egypt hires UK firm to review Sharm security

Tunisia makes $500 million from assets of ousted president

Turkey dismisses pressure to open borders as 'hypocritical'

Efforts to form Libya unity government stumble over defence portfolio

Iran blames failure of Syria peace talks on participation of ‘terrorists’

Syria opposition hopes for end of sieges

UAE names women state ministers in major government shake-up

French Foreign Minister steps down with criticism of US role in Syria

Germany hopes Syria talks in Munich will agree to provide aid

Syrian Kurdish separatists open Moscow representation

Jordan rejects France extradition request for 1982 terror attack suspects

Libya parliament extends deadline for formation of new unity government

Herzog wants Israel to begin separation from Palestinian areas

Khomeini grandson loses appeal against exclusion from Iran elections

Turkey, US split deepens over support for Syria Kurds

EU tells members to accelerate refugee relocation

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince in India: String of trade, security deals expected

Syria regime's Aleppo offensive kills more than 500

Ex-Israeli PM’s prison sentence extended

Turkey summons US envoy over Syria Kurds row

Unstable dam affecting Mosul recapture

Jihadist attacks bring Egypt's tourist industry to its knees

‘Hell’ falling on Aleppo

Enormous challenges emerge after full liberation of Ramadi

Hamas fighter dies in latest tunnel collapse

Aleppo siege spells trouble for the West

Egypt policeman jailed for beating vet to death

How many civilians are living under 'surrender or starve' sieges in Syria?

NATO to consider policing refugee crisis

Iran deal will delay bomb up to 15 years

Top spy warns homegrown extremists pose biggest danger to US