Olmert, Abbas to Meet Privately Tomorrow

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas will meet privately tomorrow in the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem, to discuss progress in the talks between the Israeli and PA negotiating terms ahead of the Annapolis summit next month. Senior officials in Jerusalem said that Olmert and Abbas want to get started and delve deeply into the work of the negotiating teams.

U.S. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley is due to arrive in Israel today for the first time on a visit that will focus on the Palestinian issue. Senior Israeli officials believe Hadley's visit is intended to send a message that President George Bush wants to stay informed and involved regarding the Israeli-Palestinian preparations for the peace conference.

The Israeli and PA negotiating teams, headed by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and her PA counterpart Ahmed Qureia, met yesterday. Haaretz has learned that the two sides have not reached an agreement over the continuation of the talks and a joint statement. Most of the disagreement concerns Israel's demand for renewed deliberations on implementing the first stage of the road map.

The Palestinians claim that they have already implemented the first stage, which includes fighting terror, and that Israel must now evacuate West Bank outposts and stop construction in the settlements. The Israeli negotiators, for their part, argue that the Palestinians must demonstrate greater efforts to fight Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Tomorrow's meeting between Olmert and Abbas is apparently intended as an opportunity to discuss the obstacles faced by the negotiating teams, and to find a way to solve them. Senior Jerusalem officials pointed out, however, that it is one of a series of regular, biweekly meetings between the leaders.