I agree with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. For the sake of Israelis and Palestinians alike, a negotiated peace is imperative during the next administration. Peace out – Martin Fox with the Center for Global Leadership and “Be the change today.”
Olmert urges Obama to pursue Mideast peace – By Jeffrey Heller
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said before White House talks on Monday that achieving a Palestinian statehood deal he and President George W. Bush failed to seal should be a main goal of the Obama administration.
A senior Israeli official said Olmert, on a visit to Washington to bid farewell to Bush, delivered that message at a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
“The prime minister stressed the importance that the Annapolis process be continued by the next U.S. administration and Israeli government,” the official said.
Olmert, who leaving office after a February 10 parliamentary election and formation of a new government, was due to see Bush at 6 p.m. (2300 GMT) for talks Israeli officials said would focus on the peace process and Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
The United States, Israel and the Palestinians have all acknowledged they will not have a peace accord in place before Bush vacates the White House in January, missing a target date set at the Annapolis peace conference a year ago this week.
Barack Obama, who visited Israel and the occupied West Bank in July, pledged at the time — in an apparent jab at Bush’s last-minute efforts to secure peace — not to “wait a few years into my term or my second term if I’m elected” to press for a deal.
Although Olmert has vowed to pursue peace until his last day in office — a pledge his spokesman said he repeated to Rice — public interest in Israel in the lame-duck leader’s policies is waning as the election campaign gathers speed.
Opinion polls in Israel show former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party leading the ruling centrist Kadima faction in the election.
Netanyahu has said he would focus peace efforts on shoring up the Palestinian economy rather than on territorial issues, a policy that could spell the end of the Annapolis process.
As his term winds down, Olmert has been increasingly vocal about what he sees as the need for Israel to relinquish nearly all of the land it occupied in the 1967 Middle East war in return for peace, while retaining major Jewish settlement blocs.
Palestinian officials said the commitment to came too late.
And his successor as Kadima leader, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, has not voiced support for Olmert’s position.
After his talks at the White House, Olmert and his wife Aliza will dine with the president and first lady Laura Bush. Olmert flies home on Tuesday after seeing U.S. Jewish leaders.