Israel, PA to aim for peace deal by year’s end

A number of ministers criticized the negotiations, particularly reports that Olmert intended to allow international bodies to participate in the negotiations on Jerusalem.

“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.”
Zec 12:2

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agreed yesterday that Israel and the Palestinians would continue to aim for a peace agreement by the end of the year, despite Olmert’s plans to step down after a September primary in his Kadima party.

At a meeting in Jerusalem, the two decided the deal would be a full agreement rather than an outline of the disputed issues. Yesterday’s Olmert-Abbas meeting is likely to be their final session before the Kadima primary on September 17, after which Olmert will leave his post.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the front-runner in the race to replace Olmert as Kadima leader, warned yesterday that the two sides must not let time constraints set the agenda for talks.

“I support negotiations, but a final agreement has to explicitly reflect Israel’s interests,” she said. “We can’t allow time constraints to rush us into making grave mistakes in trying to bridge gaps that are too big in a way that will bring about a clash, nor can we compromise on critical issues only for the sake of results. This is not how I operate in negotiations.”

The amorphous announcement by Abbas and Olmert on reaching a full agreement was partly intended to soften the criticism by Livni and Ahmed Qureia, the heads of the two negotiating teams for the agreement – both of whom object to reaching only an agreement in principle.

They want to reach a detailed agreement, even if that means extending the negotiations into 2009.

Much of the meeting between Olmert and Abbas was held in private, without Livni, Qureia or other advisers.

It seems Olmert tried to convince Abbas to agree to his proposal to sign an agreement in principle on the issues of Jerusalem, refugees and borders.

Olmert spokesman Mark Regev said after the meeting that significant progress had been made in the talks but that there are still considerable gaps between the sides.

He would not elaborate on the differences, however, and gave no direct answer when asked if Olmert broached the idea of an interim agreement at the meeting.

As far as Olmert is concerned, the talks with Abbas have entered the final round, and there are about two weeks left to reach an agreement before the prime minister steps down.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been trying for the past few weeks to convince Israel and the Palestinian Authority to formulate a document delineating the two sides’ positions and clarifying the points of contention and agreement.

Rice hopes to present the document at the UN General Assembly sessions due to open in three weeks. However, both Israel and the Palestinians have expressed deep opposition to Rice’s proposal, explaining that such a document would damage the negotiations.

The talks came as Olmert’s plan to propose international involvement in negotiations over the capital drew fire from cabinet ministers.

A number of ministers criticized the negotiations, particularly reports that Olmert intended to allow international bodies to participate in the negotiations on Jerusalem.

Shas chairman Eli Yishai charged that the prime minister has no legal or public authority to make a deal with the Palestinians, and certainly not to decide the fate of Jerusalem.

“The leadership of the Palestinian Authority is virtual,” Yishai said. “Any agreement with them will be the basis for more terror. It is clear to everyone that Jerusalem’s fate cannot be negotiated like it was a currency, and certainly not with international participation.”

Israel must prepare for the day after Abbas

In the weekly cabinet meeting yesterday, meanwhile, Shin Bet security service chief Yuval Diskin warned that the division between the West Bank and Gaza makes potential PA presidential elections “impossible” to hold, but nonetheless said that Abbas’ time as Palestinian Authority president was nearing its end.

  1. Billy Mills, 13 September, 2008

    My Deepest thoughts are, 1. Condoleeza Rice needs to read and study the BIBLE. The Palestinians are not to have a state: 2. Jerusalem isn’t supposed to be divided, it is GOD’s HOLY CITY. 3. We wait attentavely for the SHOUT IN THE CLOUDS to be lifted up to MEET THE LORD and to be FREE of this Corruptable World.

Copyright © In The Days