Daily Israel Report

Olmert Pushing Road Map Plan

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Saturday night, announced he plans to meet - unconditionally - with Abu Mazen in the near future.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 9/10/2006, 2:03 PM / Last Update: 9/10/2006, 7:53 AM

Blair arrived in Jerusalem late Sabbath afternoon, meeting with Mr. Olmert on what many feel is his farewell tour of the region before his expected resignation next year.

Olmert told reporters that he plans to meet with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) in the near future. Though just last week he said he would not meet with Abbas before captive soldier Gilad Shalit is released, he no longer has set any preconditions for such a meeting.

Olmert expressed his willingness and intention to advance the Quartet's Road Map Plan between Israel and the PA. He announced that the Realignment Plan, his main election campaign platform, was no longer relevant.

The Road Map plan, initiated in 2002, calls for an end to terrorism, an end to Israel's settlement activity, and the formation of a Palestinian state. Ex-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that the U.S. guaranteed that Israel could retain major settlement blocs in the Shomron, but this has not been borne out by the relevant documents. The plan has not yet made it to its first step.

The British leader told reporters that events taking place in the Mideast directly impact his country, as well as the entire world community. Blair expressed his willingness to do whatever possible to advance negotiating efforts between Israel and the PA (Palestinian Authority).

Prime Minister Olmert has said that he now realizes that his Realignment Plan, calling for the dismantling of most of the communities in Judea and Samaria and the handing over of most of the territory to Hamas, is no longer realistic. The Road Map Plan is all Olmert has left on the political horizon, analysts say.

Olmert placing the focus of his Saturday night remarks not on Lebanon or Iran, but on the PA. PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, who still retains his position despite the fact that Hamas controls the Parliament, is also willing to talk unconditionally with Olmert. Both leaders apparently feel they need each other in order to stay in power.

The Deputy Director of the GSS (Israel's domestic security service), whose name is not known to the public, says that Abbas also needs Hamas cooperation in order to survive. The official told the Cabinet today that Fatah is continuing to crumble in the face of increasing Hamas strength and influence within the internal PA security agencies. Efforts continue to create a unity government of both Hamas and Fatah.