The three-way summit with the US, Israel and the Palestinian Authority concluded on Monday with little progress.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas came to no new agreements on a two-state solution, but promised to continue talks.
While prospects for success were low due to Abbas’ willingness to form a unity government with Hamas, a terrorist organization that does not recognize Israel, this was the first time in six years that the three leaders were able to sit down and hold discussions.
“I think the real value here is that they sat down to talk with each other pretty early in this process,” said Rice. “I could have made the decision that, well, I'll just wait until this all sorts out, but she said that could have created new obstacles. We thought it would be best to go ahead.”
Olmert and Abbas agreed to maintain an open channel of communication, to improve the lives of Palestinians and to stop terrorism. They also discussed the possibility of extending a 3-month-old cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria.
While there was much criticism from top Hamas and Palestinian officials, US officials had said otherwise. A senior State Department official said the summit was “an irreplaceable opportunity to clear the air.”