Rice Pressures Israel for More Security Concessions
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says that current Israeli concessions to the Arabs are not enough.
On her flight back to Washington, US Secretary Rice told reporters that Israel's removal of several IDF security
Barak agreed to several of the American demands, but declined to make a formal commitment.
checkpoints in Judea and Samaria does not improve life enough for Arabs in the region. She added that US embassy staff would be sent to speak with PA Arabs waiting in lines at the remaining IDF checkpoints, in order to "really get a sense of how the movements and access is working."
During her two-day visit, Rice demanded four meeting with Defense Minster Ehud Barak. Barak agreed to several of the American demands, but declined to make a formal commitment. He has promised that none of the roadblocks would be removed if it means endangering Jewish lives.
Israel took down 44 defensive barriers in Judea and Samaria since Rice's last visit in March, but a United Nations report has stated that those security concessions are insignificant.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with US Secretary of State Rice on Monday. They refrained from holding a press conference, and did not release details of their conversation.
Olmert and Abbas Give Contradictory Reports About Mutual Meeting
Officials in the Prime Minister's Office called recent discussions between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas "the most serious talks the sides have ever conducted." Aides to Abbas, on the other hand, say the PA leader is "depressed" by the ongoing negotiations.
On Monday, Olmert's spokesmen indicated that the Israeli Prime Minister and PA Chairman Abbas made major progress in negotiations over the borders of an Arab state in Judea and Samaria. On the other hand, officials said that there had been no progress towards an agreement over the status of Jerusalem, which Abbas claims as the capital of a PA state. Nor was there any agreement regarding the PA's demand that millions of Arabs claiming descent from those who fled during the War of Independence be allowed to "return" to pre-1967 Israel.
The PA leader is "depressed" by the ongoing negotiations.
Meanwhile, in statements quoted by the Associated Press, advisors to the PA's Abbas said he is "depressed" by the lack of advancement in negotiations with Israel. "When he goes to visit other Arab countries, he tells them that we negotiate with the Israelis on a daily basis, but we have nothing to show for it," Abbas's aides told the AP.
'Progress in Talks' Measured by 'Progress in Investigation'
Members of the Judea, Samaria and Gaza Council responded to reports of "significant progress" in negotiations between Israel and the PA with derision. They linked the news of another criminal investigation of Prime Minister Olmert, leaked this week, with the ongoing negotiations with the PA.
"From now on, progress in negotiations will correspond to progress in the investigations, and the willingness to give in will parallel the witnesses' willingness to testify," they said.
The council called to make the content of Israel's negotiations with the PA public, saying, "The time has come to shed light on the attempt to sell the State of Israel for worthless promises." Olmert cannot commit to anything in Israel's name, they added.
Prime Minister Olmert claimed that the latest police investigation of him over suspicions of bribery is not interfering with or affecting his government duties.