Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (left) with Condoleezza Rice and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Condoleezza Rice concluded a highly vaunted two-hour meeting with no firm commitment other than an agreement to maintain communication. The elephant in the room was Abbas’ recently announced deal to share power with Hamas, an arrangement that prompted the U.S. and Israel to threaten a boycott.
A Mideast peace summit designed to open a new chapter for Israelis and Palestinians fed up with violence concluded Monday with no new agreements and a pledge to keep talking.
The United States, which had pushed for the session, said it was an accomplishment merely to hold such a get together for the first time in six years. After two hours of talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stood alone in a bare-bones hotel function room to call the session “useful and productive.”
The prospect of any immediate success here essentially was hijacked by Abbas’ surprise announcement last week that he will govern hand-in-hand with the militant group Hamas. The United States and Israel list Hamas as a terrorist group and refuse all dealings with the group.