Rice, Olmert, Abbas to Meet

A three-way meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will take place in Jerusalem Feb. 19, Olmert said during a speech on Tuesday.

During her recent Mideast tour, Rice said she would organize such a meeting, but she did not give a date.

The announcement came on the eve of a meeting between Abbas and heads of Hamas in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, with the aim of forming a unity government for the Palestinians.

Speaking at a meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem, Olmert called on Abbas to "resist all the temptations and pressure of Hamas and to establish a government that will recognize Israel."

Since the Islamic militant Hamas took power last March, Western donors have cut off vital foreign aid, leaving the Palestinian government bankrupt. Abbas has been trying to forge a unity government to restore the aid.

Olmert said any Palestinian government must accept the three conditions laid down by the "Quartet" of Mideast mediators — renouncing violence, recognizing Israel and accepting former peace accords.

"We will not accept any compromises of a government that does not accept the basic principles of the Quartet," he said, adding, "we will cooperate with any government that accepts these principles."

Olmert also said that tough economic sanctions, instead of military action, can deter Iran from building nuclear weapons. "If the international community will enforce real measures on the economy of Iran ... it is possible the Iranians will reconsider their position," he said.

The U.S., Israel and others believe Iran is trying to build atomic bombs, despite Iran's insistence that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Israel considers Iran a strategic threat but has said it will not lead the effort to prevent its acquisition of nuclear weapons but has not definitively ruled out a military strike.