US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the weekend forwarded a document to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas detailing what she would like both of them to say at the conclusion of the upcoming peace summit in Annapolis, Maryland.
According to the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Quds, the document represents a last-ditch effort by Rice to smooth out remaining differences between Olmert and Abbas that are keeping the leaders from formulating a formal joint statement.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported on Sunday that the Annapolis summit remains in a confused state, with no official invitations having yet been issued, but a growing number of nations demanding a seat at the table if their rivals are invited to participate. For example, the newspaper reported that Greece is demanding an invitation if its rival Turkey agrees to be part of the conference.
Despite the mass uncertainty in the run-up to the gathering, Israel's cabinet on Monday was expected to approve the release of 450 jailed Palestinian terrorists to help ensure the summit's success. Abbas has previously demanded that Israel free 2,000 Arab security prisoners in exchange for his cooperation. Israeli lawmakers opposed to the release noted that similar "goodwill gestures" in the past had never succeeded in either strengthening Abbas or moderating his demands on Israel.