Olmert And Abbas Work on Core Issues

Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams were instructed to focus on core issues such as Jerusalem, the refugees, and the contours of a future Palestinian state by Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. They want action and believe it must begin now. Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a member of the Olmert Cabinet, aid he would withdraw his party from the coalition government if discussions entailed core issues between the two groups. Olmert and Abbas met a day before the arrival of Bush in an apparent effort to offer the American leader some concrete news about progress on negotiations. Obviously, the security issue is central to resolution of the conflict and this continues to be a matter of debate. Secretary of State Rice told reporters from the Jerusalem Post that her administration opposes any further Israeli housing construction on either the West Bank or in east Jerusalem.

Both sides appear to be focusing on achieving some results rather than present President Bush with another explanation of why there is no progress. It is important Secretary of State Condi Rice made it clear to the Israel government that housing construction must cease on the West Bank and in east Jerusalem. On a hopeful note, nine Fatah gunmen surrendered to authorities and signed a pledge to cease any further attacks on Israelis.