Jerusalem – U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met on Sunday night with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in his Jerusalem residence, and presented Olmert with her outline for a new diplomatic initiative.

She followed that up yesterday with two sessions apiece with Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, including a lengthy evening meeting with Olmert in her Jerusalem hotel.

From those meetings came an agreement yesterday to resume open-ended, face-to-face talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a possible step toward restarting substantive peace talks, a U.S. official said.

After meeting yesterday with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Rice reportedly said that two tracks of negotiations would be launched after the upcoming Riyadh summit with the Palestinians and the Israelis.

The talks between the Palestinian and Israeli leaders will be open to all issues, said the U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of a planned address by Rice today.

Olmert’s agreement to new talks was a small step, since he had held such sessions with Abbas before the Hamas deal, but it still was seen as a sign of fresh and surprising progress toward peace talks despite the complication posed by Hamas.

When Abbas and Hamas formed their coalition government last week, Olmert said he would talk about humanitarian and other concerns if need be, but he ruled out more detailed discussions or negotiations.

The secretary of state’s plan calls for convening a large peace conference next month, which will include the international Quartet – the U.N., the EU, Russia and the U.S., as well as the Arab states still under U.S. influence, Israel and the Palestinians.

This is Rice’s fourth visit to the region in the past two months, and she is more determined than ever to finally leave here with some kind of achievement. The Palestinians demand to immediately begin negotiations, while Israel demands that the Palestinians first show results – first and foremost on the matter of Gilad Shalit’s release and halting the missile fire from Gaza; 178 missile attacks have been launched from Gaza since the announcement of the cease-fire Nov. 26.

Rice will reportedly offer to mediate between Israel and the Palestinians – in two separate tracks – after admitting that direct talks are not possible in the present political climate. Rice has clarified to both sides that after the Riyadh conference, she will oversee two separate tracks, American-Palestinian and American-Israeli.

Meanwhile, at the weekly Israeli cabinet meeting, Olmert attacked Abu Mazen for, as he put it, “blatantly violating a series of commitments,’ and mainly the commitment he gave to Olmert and to world leaders – to bring about the release of the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit before the Palestinian unity government is established.

For First Time: A Palestinian ‘Peace Now’

A new Palestinian movement, which was launched this week in Ramallah, “Wasatiya” – the Arabic word for “moderation” – is the first Islamic party that supports negotiations and a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and a democratic and tolerant society domestically.

Mohammed Dajani, a professor of political science and director of the American Studies Institute at Al-Quds University in East Jerusalem, hopes to turn Wasatiya into a movement that will ultimately compete with Hamas over the vote of the silent Palestinian majority.

Wasatiya’s platform rejects the right of return – the return of the Palestinian refugees to their home, in the territory of the state of Israel.

“I would say to the refugees: ‘Move on with your life.’ We cannot let the past bury the future, even though it should always be remembered,” said Dajani.

He said that most Muslims are proud of their Muslim tradition, but many are uncomfortable with the extremism of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and after years of armed resistance, are tired of extremist militarism.

Time will tell as to the strength, credibility and power of this movement

Arab Member Of Knesset Parliament Crosses The Line

An Arab member of Israel’s Knesset Parliament, Israel Communist Party leader Mohammed Barakeh, arrived on Sunday in Yemen, an Arab country still in a state of war with Israel since 1948. He will meet with members of Arab terror groups that are based in Yemen, and participate in conferences convened in honor of the right of Palestinian Arab refugees and their descendants from the 1948 war to return to the villages that they left in 1948.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

David Bedein can be reached at His Web site is

©The Bulletin 2007


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Previous articleDiplomatic Blitz In Israel Next Week
Next articleRice:Two Sides To Meet Twice A Month
David Bedein
David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.