Sunday, August 31, 2008

Palestinians Reject Interim Peace Accord

Jerusalem, Israel -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected Israel's idea of an interim peace agreement at a Sunday summit, a Palestinian negotiator said, insisting on an all-or-nothing approach that practically ruled out an accord by a January target date.

The latest meeting between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was their shortest, lasting less than an hour. Neither side indicated any significant progress.

"We want an agreement to end the [Israeli] occupation and establish an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital," Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters. "President Abbas told Olmert that we will not be part of an interim or shelf agreement," he said. "Either we agree on all issues, or no agreement at all."

Olmert spokesman Mark Regev said "significant progress had been made in the talks," but "there are still considerable gaps between the two sides." He would not elaborate.

Olmert entered the meeting in a weakened position after a recent declaration that he will resign this month when his party picks a new leader. Allegations in a series of corruption cases also weaken his political position.

Abbas, too, is not in a strong political position, having lost control of Gaza to Islamic Hamas militants last year.

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