Olmert, Bush and Abbas to hold three-way summit in Jerusalem
Meeting next week meant to energize peace talks; Bush, Peres to hold meet on Mideast development.
The leaders of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the United States are expected to hold a joint meeting during President George W. Bush's visit here next week, in an effort to accelerate negotiations on the conflict's core issues - borders, refugees, and Jerusalem.
Bush will visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority next Wednesday and Thursday as part of a regional tour that will cover seven states in nine days.
The main focus of the president's talks will be the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the Iranian nuclear program.
Preparatory talks between the White House and Jerusalem in recent days led to an agreement that a meeting will be organized between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Bush.
The purpose of the tripartite meeting is to energize the negotiations between Israel and the PA.
Talks on the conflict's core issues were supposed to begin after the Annapolis summit, but reached an impasse over disagreements on the issue of continued Israeli construction in settlements and East Jerusalem.
"The purpose of the meeting is to further the negotiations," a senior political source in Jerusalem told Haaretz Tuesday.
"The leaders will be able to evaluate how the situation is progressing to date, and decide where we are going from here," the source added.
If the meeting does take place, it will be held in a neutral site - not in the Prime Minister's residence in Jerusalem. One of the possibilities is the American Consulate in East Jerusalem, the source said.
Olmert is expected to hold a meeting on Wednesday with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to discuss Israel's stance for the upcoming Bush visit.
Olmert plans to brief the U.S. president on the instructions he has issued to his cabinet on freezing West Bank construction.
Bush administration spokesmen have expressed their concern in recent weeks at continued Israeli construction in the West Bank, and Olmert intends to stress that his government is taking action in order to meet its obligations to the road map.
On the other hand, Olmert will also insist that the PA must take more forceful action in combating terrorist organizations.
Olmert and Bush are also expected to spend much time discussing the Iranian nuclear program. During their last meeting in Washington, following the Annapolis summit, Bush briefed Olmert on the content of the National Intelligence Estimate on the Iranian nuclear project, which concluded that Tehran had frozen its nuclear arms program in 2003.
Bush has since insisted that the NIE will not alter his policy on Iran, but in Israel there is concern that during the final year of his presidency he will find it difficult to conduct a military operation against Iran.
In addition to the political meetings, Bush is also scheduled to meet President Shimon Peres to discuss joint economic and development projects between Israel, the PA, Jordan and other countries.