Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbs is opposed to Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert’s willingness to postpone talks on the issue of Jerusalem, expected to be finalized by end of 2008.In remarks to a Jordanian newspaper, Abbas denied consent over Olmert’s stance, saying that the Jerusalem and the refugees issues should be on top of the two sides’ negotiations’ agenda.
Nimer Hammad, Abbas’s political advisor, said Monday that the issue of Jerusalem is a core one that can not be postponed and the president did not agree to Olmert’s proposal.
Such developments come shortly before the two leaders meet tomorrow Tuesday within a series of regular meetings to help advance their peace talks, which have been revived since the last November’s Washington-hosted Annapolis summit meeting.
Prime Minister Olmert, declared on Sunday that his talks with Abbas are meant to reach an understanding on ‘basic principles’ for Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, which will come out with a Palestinian state on 1967 borders.
‘We will postpone dealing with Jerusalem to the last phase of the negotiations,’ Olmert said, stressing that Abbas had ‘accepted’ his suggestion.
The Israeli premier had earlier believed that an agreement on borders of Palestinian state could be possible, a possibility his foreign minister, Tsibi Livni, dismissed, citing existence of the Islamist Hamas movement in power in Gaza.
Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, expressed yesterday concern over continued settlement buildings in the occupied east Jerusalem, branding it ‘dangerous’ to peace-making.
Fayyad’s remarks came after PM Olmert declared that construction of housing units in existing settlements of Jerusalem will continue, as no more settlements will be built.
Jerusalem is considered by Palestinians as the capital of future Palestinian state, while Israel has always argued that Jerusalem will remain undivided under the supremacy of what Israel says ‘ the Jewish state’.
According to the U.S-backed Palestinian-Israeli peace process, Palestinians and Israelis are supposed to reach a final settlement on core issues such as borders of Palestinian state, problem of Palestinian refugees and status of Jerusalem-which is a part of the Palestinian territories, Israel occupied in 1967-by end of 2008.