Israeli Prime Minster, Ehud Olmert, said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is a powerless leader and that he cannot represent the Palestinians in peace talks with Israel.
Olmert’s statements came during an interview conducted with the CNN on Thursday. Olmert’s office released the contents of the interview on Sunday, shortly before Olmert traveled to the United States.
“He is powerless, he is unable to stop even small terrorist operations”, Said Olmert, “How would he be able to represent the Palestinian government in the most crucial, sensitive talks amidst great deal of differences among the Palestinians?!”.
The statements were made after Abbas met with the Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and the Israeli deputy Prime Minister, Shimon Peres in the Egyptian resort of Sharm Al Sheikh on the sidelines of the Davos Economic Forum.
After the meeting, Abbas said that he is capable of running peace talks with Israel on the behalf of the Palestinian people.
Olmert also spoke of Iran’s nuclear program and claimed that Iran is months away from having the needed knowledge and capability to build a nuclear bomb.
During the Forum, Abbas stated negotiations with Israel are sole "the responsibility and jurisdiction" of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)”, adding that he is committed to putting the results of the peace talks to a general referendum.
“Peace needs the approval of the people”, Abbas said, “Peace is not merely signatures of leaders”.
Abbas also said that Israel should end its occupation to the Palestinian lands, and that Palestinian and Israelis have no choice but to resume meaningful peace talks that lead to the full implementation of the Road Map Plan.
He added that he will be heading any negotiations with Israel, and not the Palestinian government but will he would "continue to exert every possible effort to obtain the agreement of the Palestinian government to his political platform, especially regarding the political solution to the conflict and negotiations to establish two states".
Also, Abbas added that Israel should abandon its slogan that it has “no Palestinian partner in peace”, and to accept the invitation to return to the negotiations table.
He warned that Israel’s unilateral steps are considered dictations, and that unilateralism will quickly put an end to the two-state solutions and would drag the area into more violence.