Israeli online daily Haaretz reported that the Israeli Prime Minster, Ehud Olmert, is set to meet with the U.S Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to prepare for his first meeting with the American President, George W. Bush scheduled for Tuesday.
Haaretz added that the U.S. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley will also be present at the Monday night meeting.
Olmert’s Tuesday evening meeting with Bush at the White House will be concluded by a joint statement of the two leaders expressing their position over the Iranian nuclear program and a joint call for halting it.
Bush is expected to reiterate the American position to “protect Israel against Iran”, the position was first declared in February this year.
Israeli sources reported that Olmert will raise three issues in his meeting with Bush; the immediate need to deal with “the Iranian threat”; the situation in the Palestinian Authority, including dealing with the Hamas-led government and talks with the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas; and
Olmert’s so called "convergence" plan for a major withdrawal from the West Bank.
The “convergence plan” includes evacuating small settlements on the other side of the annexation Wall Israel is constructing deep into the occupied West Bank.
According to Haaretz, Olmert is expected to inform Bush that the convergence plan is not a step that will be implemented immediately, but rather is an idea that must be worked through in the coming months, and that the plan will be implemented if the Israeli-Palestinian talks were unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, Bush is expected to support the Israeli moves which are seen as a promotion of his “two-state solution” even through Olmert’s plan does not include talks with the Palestinians or withdrawal to the 1967 borders.
Condoleeza Rice said that the U.S prefers a bilateral solution but added that the idea of convergence has an importance “in a situation in which the Palestinian government refuses to recognize Israel”.
She added that the U.S. administration was interested in “hearing more about the Israeli idea”.
Also, a series of secret talks between the U.S. and Israel is expected to be carried out after Olmert’s visit.
Moreover, the U.S. State Department envoys David Welch and Elliott Abrams are expected to arrive in Israel at the beginning of June; Rice is also expected to visit the region.
Haaretz also reported that the sources in Olmert’s delegation said that the statements will not mention Abbas or the need to prevent a humanitarian crisis in the occupied territories.
Olmert will not publicly pledge to evacuate illegal settlement outposts since the Americans did not bring this issue up in preparatory talks that preceded the meeting.