Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams are set to launch talks on core issues.
In a meeting Tuesday in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to move peace negotiations forward on subjects such as Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees and the borders of a Palestinian state.
The two leaders met one day before the scheduled arrival of U.S. President George W. Bush in an effort to show some negotiating progress.
Right-wingers in Olmert’s Cabinet have threatened to quit and bring down the government if core issues are on the agenda. Israeli officials say that they will fend off such threats by explaining that the issues are under discussion only in a general way and that committees have not yet been established to address them.
The outcome of the Abbas-Olmert meeting, which Israeli officials said went “very well,” was an agreement for future talks. Under the plan, top Israeli and Palestinian officials will report to Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and P.A. Foreign Minister Ahmed Qureia. If negotiations come to an impasse, Olmert and Abbas would meet and resolve the problem.
The two sides also agreed at the meeting to set up a coordinated effort to police the northern West Bank city of Nablus as a model for security cooperation.