Rice back in Israel, P.A.


Condoleezza Rice said Israel and the Palestinian Authority remain far apart on a peace parley agenda.

The U.S. secretary of state arrived in Israel on Saturday for her latest round of shuttle diplomacy ahead of the upcoming U.S.-sponsored conference on Palestinian statehood expected to take place within weeks in Annapolis, Md.,

But Rice said she was not hopeful for an immediate breakthrough in efforts to agree on a document of joint principles that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would present at the event.

“I absolutely don’t expect there will be agreement on a document,” she told reporters. “They are still working and, like with anything of this kind, they are going through some knotty discussions and I think those knotty discussions are going to continue for a while.”

Abbas wants Israel to commit to clear concessions on core issues such as the borders of a future Palestine, shared sovereignty in Jerusalem and the demands of Palestinian refugees. Olmert has balked at the demands, with Israeli officials citing concern that Abbas, after his break with Hamas in June, may not have the power to deliver security in territory that falls under P.A. control.

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