In a day of shuttle diplomacy, the US Secretary of State has held separate talks with Israelis and Palestinians on her latest tour of the Middle East. Before dinner with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Condoleeza Rice met with President Mahmoud Abbas. Olmert refuses direct talks with Abbas since the latter formed a unity government with Hamas.
So there may be many more meetings as Rice tries to focus their minds on what she calls the “political horizon” of creating a Palestinian state: “You would have to have a renunciation of violence as a foundational principle for peace. Obviously you would have to recognise the right of the other party to exist. It would be important to build on past agreements- that goes without saying- and the Road Map has a series of obligations that will have to be met.”
The United Nations Secretary-General is also in the region, adding his weight to efforts to broker peace between the two.
Ban Ki Moon met with Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah and paid his respects at the grave of former leader Yasser Arafat. Abbas has said the Palestinian government is committed to a truce. But given its continuing refusal to recognise Israel or give up the right to an armed struggle, prospects seem dim.