Abbas Concedes to Rice, Will Resume Talks
(IsraelNN.com) American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice succeeded in pressuring Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to drop his demand that Israel announce a halt to counterterrorist operations in Gaza before resuming negotiations with Israel. "The peace process is a strategic choice and we have the intention of resuming the peace process," he said at almost the same time Secretary Rice told a press conference that "both parties" are talking to each other and will resume talks.
Abbas asserted several hours earlier that he would not consider meeting with Israeli negotiators until Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ordered the IDF to stop shooting at terrorists. Secretary's Rice visit marks a more direct involvement in the negotiations. However, she ducked a reporter's question concerning talks on the status of Jerusalem.
She commented that the capital is one of the issues to be settled but added she "will leave it to the parties involved" to determine the timing. The Shas party has warned it will quit the coalition government if dividing the Jerusalem is discussed between senior negotiators.