PM to Meet Rice, Abbas for Tripartite Summit in J'lem Today

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas today in a three-way summit at the David's Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem.

The summit will begin at 10:00 A.M., starting with a work meeting between the three, and will be followed by a lunch meeting, in which Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Vice Premier Shimon Peres will participate. Rice will give a statement to the press at the end of the event.

Rice and Olmert met yesterday for one-on-one discussions which continued for two and a half hours. The prime minister has made political headway with the new government to be formed in the Palestinian Authority conditional on the acceptance of the Quartet's principles. Rice also met yesterday with Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who was accompanied by Chief of Military Intelligence Amos Yadlin. She met separately with the likely future Palestinian finance minister Salam Fayyad, and Senator John McCain.

According to Palestinian sources, the meeting will raise three issues: implementation of the November 2005 crossings agreement, the transfer of collected taxes from Israel to Abu Mazen's cabinet and the future of the peace process. The U.S. and Israel made no promises to the PA on the eve of the summit. According to participants, Abu Mazen presented the considerations which led to his agreeing to the Mecca Agreement.

Rice, who did not hold a press conference as previously planned, clarified to Abbas that United States' policy toward the unity government would only be defined after it has been formed and has formulated its foreign policy. The secretary of state said the policies of the unity government would be evaluated on the basis of its adherence to the terms of the Quartet, i.e. recognition of Israel, recognition of signed agreements and rejection of all forms of terror. Abu Mazen asked Rice to consider the positive aspects of the Mecca Agreement, for instance Hamas' undertaking to honor the decisions of the Palestinian National Council, which include the Oslo Accords and mutual recognition with Israel.

Secretary of State Rice is expected to read a public statement during the summit in Jerusalem today, but will not take questions from the press. Abu Mazen and Olmert will make no statements.