Monday, August 6, 2007

PM: Israel, PA to expand talks on establishing Palestinian state as soon as possible


Get ready, Olmert is planning to pervert justice one more time by releasing terrorists from our jails, no doubt to make room for good religious Jews who fight against the destruction of their homes and expulsion from Jewish lands.

Last update - 23:08 06/08/2007
By Avi Issacharoff and Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondents

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas at a meeting in the West Bank on Monday he would push for the establishment of a Palestinian state as "fast as possible."

In a Jericho meeting with the PA chairman, Olmert refrained from setting a schedule, but said statehood would be achieved by adherence to the internationally brokered road map to Middle East peace, and through mutual understanding.

"We have decided to expand the scope of the negotiations between us in order to advance mutual understanding and formulate the framework that will allow us to move forward toward establishing a Palestinian state," Olmert said.


Monday's meeting marked the first time an Israeli prime minister has visited the Palestinian Authority since the outbreak of the second intifada in September 2000. The meeting took place under heavy security.

Palestinian Presidential Guard officials and Shin Bet security service VIP officers held a number of meetings in recent days to lay the groundwork for the security at this historical meeting.

While Olmert did not present a timetable, he declared that he has no intention to stall for time on the issue of Palestinian statehood.

"Our mutual goal is to realize the shared vision between us and [U.S. President George] Bush regarding the establishment of two states for two peoples who live side by side in security and peace. We want to achieve this as soon as possible," Olmert added.

Olmert also mentioned that the basis for negotiations "will continue to be the road map, which is acceptable to both sides." The prime minister was referring to a peace plan proposed by the Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators - the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia - that calls for an independent Palestinian state.

During the meeting between the two leaders, Abbas told Olmert that Israel's release of the 255 Palestinian prisoners last month had a positive effect on the Palestinian people, and requested the release of additional prisoners in the coming weeks. Olmert said he would consider Abbas' request.

Abbas also called on Olmert to allow the return to the West Bank of militants whom Israel deported in 2002. The militants, who had barricaded themselves in the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem five years ago, were told they would be arrested if they returned to the West Bank, and consequently dispersed in Gaza and Europe. Olmert agreed to consider this request as well.

Both sides agreed the meeting had been constructive, but made no announcements of significant progress.

"Abbas did not come to the meeting with a magic wand, and neither did Mr. Olmert," Abbas aide Saeb Erekat said at a post-meeting press conference.

"There is an agreement on a series of meetings to discuss the issues, including the establishment of a Palestinian state," he added.

David Baker, an Olmert spokesman, said the leaders did not discuss the core issues of the conflict or conduct negotiations.

"Both sides decided to expand the contents of their discussions in order to advance the understandings ... to allow further progress to be made for the establishment of a Palestinian state," Baker said.

"I came here in order to discuss the fundamental issues outstanding between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, hoping that this will lead us soon into negotiations about the creation of a Palestinian state," Olmert said at the outset of the talks earlier Monday.

The aim of the meeting between the two was to prepare for a U.S.-led regional summit on peace between Israel and the Palestinians to be held in Washington in November.

"The purpose is to achieve the maximum possible mutual understandings on a two-state solution prior to the summit in the fall and in a way that will not endanger the entire process," a senior political source in Jerusalem said Sunday. The aim is to stabilize Abbas' rule in the West Bank so that the PA will be able to carry out its commitments, particularly on the security front.

Abbas and Olmert picked up where their previous talks, initiated at their meeting in Jerusalem two weeks ago, left off. The talks focused on an "agreement of principles."

Baker said the meeting was a signal of Israeli good will, adding that Olmert intended for it to be a productive meeting to enable progress with the Palestinians.

Both sides said ahead of the talks that the meeting would also deal with easing daily life in the West Bank, including the removal of some of the checkpoints erected after the outbreak of the second Intifada in 2000.

The meeting between the two leaders was restricted to the press and photographs were allowed only at the beginning.

Fayad: PA not ready to assume security control

Meanwhile, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad told senior Israeli officials during recent meetings that the Palestinian Authority's security organizations are unable to assume security control of cities in the West Bank. Fayad said that the PA's security forces are unable "to impose law and order in the West Bank at this time."

During meetings with senior Israeli officials, the interim Palestinian prime minister and his interior minister, Abd al-Razek al-Yihiya, made it clear that the PA's security cannot at this time assume control of West Bank cities.

Among those to whom this message was conveyed recently was Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin.

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