PM-Cheney meeting shrouded in mystery|
Herb Keinon and Yaakov Katz , THE JERUSALEM POST
Mar. 25, 2008
US Vice President Dick Cheney's second meeting with Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert Monday morning, like their first meeting Saturday night, was shrouded in
mystery, leading to speculation among diplomatic officials that the focus was on
how to stop Iran's nuclear program.
The Prime Minister's Office, which generally puts out a statement or briefs
the press after Olmert meets with a world figure of Cheney's stature, was mum
about the content of both meetings. Olmert's spokesman, Mark Regev, would only
say that Monday's meeting was a "good" one, and that the two men "discussed a
range of issues, including the peace process, terrorism and threats to regional
While Cheney's public statements during his two days here dealt primarily
with the diplomatic process with the Palestinians, one diplomatic source said
that in Cheney's private meeting with Olmert, it was clear that Iran was the
After a breakfast meeting with Olmert, Cheney told reporters that Hamas,
aided by Syria and Iran, were trying to "torpedo" the diplomatic talks.
"It is clearly a difficult situation, in part, because - I think it's true -
there's evidence that Hamas is supported by Iran and Syria and that they're
doing everything they can to torpedo the peace process," Cheney said.
Referring to Yemeni efforts to broker negotiations between Hamas and Fatah,
Cheney said that after meeting with Fatah's leadership, his impression was that
"they have established some preconditions before they would ever consider a
reconciliation, including a complete reversal of the Hamas takeover of Gaza."
No sooner had Cheney boarded his plane for Turkey, the final leg of a 10-day
Middle East trip, than Israeli diplomatic officials began preparing for the next
wave of high-level visits of American officials.
Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye, a long-time staunch supporter of Israel, is
scheduled to arrive on a fact-finding visit on Tuesday, followed by Gen. William
Fraser, the US's road map monitor, on Wednesday; Secretary of Homeland Security
Michael Chertoff on Thursday; and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on
Apparently timed to coincide with the upcoming visit of Fraser and Rice,
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel would begin making life easier for
Palestinians in the West Bank, but would not remove checkpoints for now.
Barak, during a visit to the Tarkumiya checkpoint near Hebron, said Israel
was working on making crossing through checkpoints easier and facilitating new
industrial zones to create thousands of jobs for Palestinians.
He is scheduled to meet PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad on Wednesday and is
mulling a number of gestures, including opening a VIP lane at checkpoints and
exempting Palestinian businessmen who are approved by the Shin Bet (Israel
Security Agency) from inspections.
Rice reportedly expressed impatience with Barak during her visit here earlier
this month, saying that he could do more to facilitate Palestinian movement and
make their everyday lives easier.
Meanwhile, in line with the policy of improving the quality of life in the
West Bank, the Civil Administration will inaugurate a new power station near
Jenin on Tuesday to provide electricity to four villages that until now have
been powered by generators.
The villages - Rummama, Tanah, Hirbat a-Tiba and Zbuba - will receive
electricity from Israel Electric for the first time in history. In addition, a
water reservoir near Zbuba will be connected to the grid, a step that will
significantly lower the price of water - by NIS 8 - for the residents of 11
Palestinian villages in the area.
The construction of the power station, as well as the new power lines, was
made possible by a €11.5 million donation from France and included the
construction of power lines in 27 villages throughout northern Samaria. A
ceremony will be held on Tuesday at the new power station, attended by Jenin
Governor Kadura Mussa and Civil Administration chief in Jenin Lt.-Col. Fares
Defense officials said that the new power station was part of a list of
projects the Civil Administration was overseeing in conjunction with
Original article: Jerusalem Post
Fair Use Notice