Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stated on Wednesday during a press conference that Israel will resume negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, but at the same time it would resume construction in West Bank settlement blocs. Olmert stated that settlement construction in and around Jerusalem will also resume even in ‘conflicted areas that are still subject to peace talks’.

He added that Israel ‘is determined’ to resume peace talks with the Palestinian Authority until arriving at an agreement, but will not hold any talks with the Hamas movement.

Olmert also said that the firing of homemade shells from the Gaza Strip into adjacent Israeli areas ‘does not help in achieving any progress in peace talks with the Palestinians’, adding that on Wednesday, Palestinian fighters fired nine homemade shells.

He vowed that Israel will be committed to the US-backed Road Map Peace Plan if the Palestinians are committed to it too.

Regarding settlement construction in the occupied West Bank, Olmert stated that Israel will no longer construct new settlements, but it will resume construction in existing settlement blocs including in Jerusalem, as Israel, according to Olmert, will never cede control over these areas under any future peace agreement.

Commenting on the Iranian Nuclear Program, Olmert said that Israel believes that Iran is attempting to develop unconventional weapons, and added that he agrees with several leaders of the world that ‘something must be done regarding this issue’.