JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will meet President Hosni Mubarak on June 4 for talks that Cairo said on Sunday would be a preamble to a three-way summit with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Olmert has said he would consult with Mubarak on a plan the Israeli leader has proposed for the future of the occupied West Bank under which Israel would set borders with or without Palestinian agreement.
He said he was ready to meet Abbas to explore whether long-dormant peacemaking with the Palestinians could be resumed. In Cairo, presidential spokesman Suleiman Awad said: They will … explore ways to move peace efforts in preparation for a three-way summit attended by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Olmert has voiced a willingness to hold talks with Abbas but has mentioned no date for a meeting. Peace hopes have dimmed since the militant group Hamas defeated Abbas Fatah party in a Palestinian election in January and formed a government. Olmert also said during a visit to Washington last week he would hold talks with Jordan s King Abdullah next month and travel to Britain, France and Germany to brief their leaders on his realignment proposal. Under the plan, Israel would remove isolated Jewish settlements in the West Bank, bolster major enclaves and set frontier lines by 2010 if peacemaking with the Palestinians remained frozen. Palestinians have condemned the blueprint, which is still largely on the drawing board, as a means of denying them the viable state they seek in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. After talks with Olmert last Tuesday, U.S. President George W. Bush said the Israeli leader had presented bold ideas but a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians was preferable. Announcing that Olmert would meet Mubarak next Sunday, the prime minister s office said it would provide more details later in the day. It will be their first meeting since Olmert formed a government early this month.
Although peace negotiations are within the remit of Abbas rather than the Hamas-led government, Olmert has said that the moderate Palestinian Authority president cannot be used as a fig leaf for a movement which is committed to the destruction of the Jewish state and refuses to renounce violence. Abbas chief negotiator Saeb Erakat said that the Palestinians were grateful for the efforts of Mubarak. We do appreciate all the efforts from the Egyptians, he told AFP. Erakat added that he expected to meet with Israeli officials after the Mubarak-Olmert summit in order to lay the groundwork for a possible meeting between Abbas and the Israeli premier. Asked about the likely timing of such a meeting, Erakat said that it was likely in weeks, not months. Agencies