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Olmert Says Israel's Survival Depends on Two-State Solution

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says Israel's long-term survival could be threatened if negotiations with the Palestinians fail to achieve a two-state solution.

Mr. Olmert told Israel's Haaretz newspaper that if the two-state solution collapses, Israel will face a struggle for equal voting rights for all, including the Palestinians. Mr. Olmert said as soon as that happens, in his words, "the state of Israel is finished."

Israel worries that Palestinians could eventually outnumber Jews if Israel continues to control all the territory it captured during the 1967 Middle East war.

The interview was published Thursday a day after Mr. Olmert met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and U.S. President George Bush in Washington to resume the first formal peace talks in seven years.

Mr. Bush said the U.S. will be actively engaged in the peace process between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, who pledged at a Mideast conference in Annapolis, Maryland Tuesday to try to reach a two-state settlement by the end of 2008.

Also on Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced that retired U.S. Marine Corps General and former supreme commander of NATO forces, James Jones, will serve as the U.S. special envoy focusing on Palestinian and Israeli security issues.

Rice said Jones will design and implement a plan for U.S. security assistance to the Palestinian Authority.

U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said peace negotiations must succeed. Failure, he said, would appear to vindicate terrorists.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.