Rice to ask Olmert to strengthen Abu Mazen

Wednesday, October 04, 2006 |  by Staff Writer
United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will arrive on Wednesday for a brief visit in Israel and the Palestinian Authority which will last less than 24 hours, where she will examine creative ways to strengthen Abu Mazen and strengthen the ties between him and Prime Minister Olmert.

Officials estimate that due to the latest clashes between Hamas and Fatah forces, Rice will ask Olmert to find ways to strengthen Abu Mazen and create an environment conducive to the moderate Palestinians. Rice will push for the two leaders to meet as soon as possible, and will ask Israel to unfreeze some of the withheld tax funds and give them directly to Abu Mazen so he can strengthen his presidential force. Israel will emphasize that there will be no talks on releasing funds before the release of Gilad Shalit and before the restructuring of the mechanism which will ensure funds do not reach Hamas or be used for terror activities.

Rice will also ask Israel to ease the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian areas including the opening of border crossings between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Israeli officials estimate that Rice will not pressure Jerusalem and that the Americans and Israelis see eye to eye regarding the implementation of the roadmap and the insistence on the three conditions the international community has placed on any future Palestinian government.

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