Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s aides left for the U.S. against the backdrop of growing concern in Israel that the administration will change its position and agree to engage the Hamas-Fatah government in dialogue.

Jerusalem – The Israeli prime minister’s senior aides took off on Saturday night for a series of diplomatic meetings in Washington. The aim is to persuade the leaders of the U.S. administration not to yield to European pressure to recognize the Palestinian unity government despite the fact that it has neither recognized Israel nor renounced terror.

The Prime Minister’s Bureau Chief of Staff Yoram Turbowicz and the political adviser Shalom Turjeman are scheduled to meet in Washington with National Security Adviser Steve Hadley, with his deputy Elliott Abrams and with Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s aides left for the U.S. against the backdrop of growing concern in Israel that the administration will change its position and agree to engage the Hamas-Fatah government in dialogue.

The members of the Quartet (the United States, the European Union, Russia and the U.N.) have announced in the past that they would boycott any Palestinian government that does not recognize Israel, and the agreements signed with it, and does not renounce terror. Reports that have reached Israel indicate that the other Quartet members are pressuring the U.S. government to speak with the Palestinian government, even if it accepts only some of these conditions. France has already announced that it would cooperate with the unity government, and Israel seeks to ensure that there will be no change in the position of the U.S. and of the other European countries.

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