Palestinian senior negotiator, Dr. Sa’eb Erekat, stated on Monday that there is no agreement with the Israeli side to delay talks or exclude the issue of Jerusalem from peace talks between the two sides. Several Palestinian officials were angered on Monday by statements made by the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, who claimed that the Palestinian negotiations team agreed to delay talks on the fate of Jerusalem until the final stages of peace talks.

The statements of Olmert came during a speech on Sunday when he said that he and Abbas agreed to delay talks over the fate of Jerusalem because it is “the most difficult issue in the peace process”.

These conflicting statements came only one day before a planned meeting the Olmert and the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas.

Last Wednesday, Jerusalem municipal opposition leader, Nir Barkat, claimed that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have reached an agreement to divide Jerusalem.

Barkat stated that he received information regarding this issue from what he described as “senior sources” and that the agreement was reached between the Israeli vice Prime Minister, Haim Ramon, and Palestinian businessman Mohammad Rasheed.