02/19/2007, 00.00
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Olmert, Abbas and Rice to meet again soon

Jerusalem meeting ends with parties agreeing to continue talks. But US and Israel do not clarify their position on new Palestinian national unity government. Fatah lawmaker says meeting was a good step but warns it was not enough. Hamas should act on the Makkah agreement and the international community must see the value of it.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – As Israeli PM Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agree to meet “soon” and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says she will be “soon” be back in the region, all three see the hope for peace linked to a “two-state solution” and agree that a Palestinian state cannot be born of violence and terrorism. Messrs Olmert and Abbas also believe that the United States must remain engaged in the peace process.

In today’s two and half hour meeting in Jerusalem, the three leaders reiterated their commitment to meet again, Ms Rice told reporters. She did not take any questions in her brief statement. When Abbas and Olmert left the David's Citadel Hotel, neither made a statement.

Nothing is known about what was thought to be the main issue of the summit before it took place, namely US and Israeli response to the Fatah-Hamas agreement to form a national unity government.

In an editorial today the Jerusalem Post wrote that the summit represents a living contradiction to its original purpose: to help separate "moderate" Fatah from "radical" Hamas.

For her part Ms Rice said the three-way talks focused on "issues arising" from the Makkah agreement, which calls for a national unity government, and on the Quartet's position that a Palestinian government has to accept the three conditions of recognising Israel, renouncing terrorism, and accepting previous agreements signed between the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and Israel.

Briefing his Kadima party caucus on the talks, Olmert said that Israel would insist on the fulfillment of its demands and those of the international community and the US.  “We've made it absolutely clear that we demand a Palestinian government which heeds the Quartet's demands,” he said.

Equally brief, Ms Rice said in her statement that the “president and prime minister agreed that they would meet together again soon. They reiterated their desire for American participation and leadership to overcome obstacles, rally regional and international support and move forward toward peace. In that vein, I expect to return to the region soon. All three of us affirmed our commitment to a two-state solution, agreed that a Palestinian state cannot be born of violence and terror.”

AsiaNews’ sources within the PNA said that the “decision to continue talking was positive but not sufficient.”

Prof Bernard Sabela, a Fatah lawmaker from Jerusalem, said that “the international community must see the value of the Makkah agreement and give Palestinians a chance to bring order in the territories and build a political consensus that can lead to a lasting solution of the crisis.”

For this reason, “the US and Israel must look at the outcome of the Makkah meeting non only as an internal Palestinian affair but as part of a wider framework and must therefore show that they are not shutting the door to the future national unity government.”

Despite positive steps, “much remains to be done, especially on the part of Hamas,” which today called the Jerusalem summit a “failure.”

“There is nothing to be gained from criticising without offering counterproposals and this applies to Israel as well,” Professor Sabela said. “If we don’t find a lasting solution to the crisis, everyone will suffer, Palestinians but also Israelis.”

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