US efforts to ensure the success of a Middle East peace conference, planned for this November, remain mired in political negotiation.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Israel would have to bring a concrete framework to the table to resolve disputes on borders, security, the status of Jerusalem and the future of Palestinian refugees.
Israel has said a declaration of principles would be about the best it could offer. US President Bush is keen to broker a deal before he leaves office, but Rice could only say that everyone was working hard on the matter. The fate of the people of Gaza also dominated Rice’s round of shuttle diplomacy.
Israel wants to cut off the energy and water it supplies to the Hamas-run “enemy entity” as it has labelled it. But Fatah, echoing the views of the EU, says 1.5 million civilians should not be taken hostage in such a way and is asking the US to intervene.