Expectations were low for today’s meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert , US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
A senior official said no one was expecting a peace agreement but that Abbas would have to demand from Hamas “a change in stance in order for the international community and Israel to accept the new unity government.”
Israeli officials said there was “full coordination” with the US to demand that the new Palestinian government accept the Quartet's three benchmarks – recognizing Israel, renouncing terrorism, and accepting previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements – before being considered a partner.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who met with Rice on Saturday, told the cabinet that “the ball was now in Abbas's court,” and that he had to separate himself from Hamas or get the new government to accept the three Quartet principles. The Mecca agreement between Hamas and Fatah failed to reach those conclusions.
Apart from the Quartet’s conditions, Israel will use the summit to discuss the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, halting Kassam rocket fire from Gaza.