During his Monday meeting with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, defended the ongoing illegal settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and stated that settlements will remain, any all circumstances, under Israeli control. 

Olmert “vowed” not to harm the “current developments in the political process”, and added that this process will continue in an attempt to achieve a deal before the end of this year.

Olmert also objected to Abbas against a letter sent to the European Union and the International Trade Organization  by the Palestinian Prime Minister, Dr. Salaam Fayyad, who asked them not to develop their relations with Israel as long as it continues its settlement activities and as long as it continues with its activities which endanger the peace process.

Olmert told Abbas that Israel does not accept this letter as it, according to Olmert, does not reflect the current relations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, and “puts withdraws the two parties back to the negative speeches stage”.

Palestinian sours reported that Abbas responded to Olmert by saying that if Israel does not halt the construction of settlements in the West Bank it will be difficult to reach any agreement.

The Palestinians recently objected on the Israeli government’s approval of the construction of settler homes in Jerusalem, and Olmert claimed that the constructions are only conducted in the Jewish Quarter of East Jerusalem.

Olmert also said that all settlement blocks in the West Bank and East Jerusalem will always remain under Israeli control.

Meanwhile, Israeli sources reported that Olmert informed Abbas on the efforts to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza, and said that “nothing is final yet, but talks are ongoing”.

Olmert also informed Abbas on the indirect talks with Syria, while Abbas welcomed these talks.

Sources at Olmert’s office stated that Olmert and Abbas expressed willingness to continue the talks and expressed their commitment to achieving a progress of what was agreed upon in the Annapolis Summit.

Tzipi Livni, the Israeli Foreign Minister, and chief Palestinian negotiator, Ahmad Qurea, also attended the meeting.