Jerusalem – The Middle East Newsline has confirmed that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has agreed to commit Israel to work toward the establishment of a Palestinian state even after his departure. This is despite the fact that such a step would allow light Palestinian artillery to attack all of Israel’s population centers.
Israel’s only international airport, located in Lod, could also come within light-artillery range of an armed and sovereign Palestinian state.
A new series of Israeli commitments has been under discussion between Mr. Olmert and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that could lead a major military withdrawal from almost all areas that Israel acquired after 1967’s Six-Day War.
Mr. Olmert has also been asked to submit proposals regarding an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights. Israel took the Golan on the last day of the 1967 war to stop Syrian shelling of Israel’s Upper Galilee region.
Although Mr. Olmert is now under FBI and Israeli police investigation on charges of corruption, embezzlement and bribery, President George W. Bush has invited him to a meeting at the White House in late November.
The Israeli prime minister requested the meeting to discuss the establishment of a Palestinian state, negotiations with Syria as well as Iran’s nuclear program.
Mr. Olmert was also likely will meet with President-elect Barack Obama during his visit to Washington. The Bush administration has ordered coordination with Mr. Obama to ensure a smooth transfer of power as well as continuity in U.S. policy in the Middle East.
On Nov. 8, Secretary of State Rice concluded meetings with Israel leaders and with the Palestinian Authority. She was reportedly drafting recommendations for the incoming Obama administration, which would stress the establishment of an independent, sovereign and armed Palestinian state.
The Bush administration determined this past summer that Israel and the P.A. would be unable to meet a U.S. deadline for the establishment of a Palestinian state in early 2009.
“We do not think it is likely it will happen before the end of the year,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said on Nov. 6.
David Bedein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.