Official: Israel, Palestinians may present separate statements in Annapolis

By Xinhua

Jerusalem : A stalemate in negotiations may lead Israel and the Palestinians to write up separate statements detailing their political agendas ahead of the U.S.-led peace conference, local daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported on its website.

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The report quoted a senior Israeli diplomat as saying that “at present time, we don’t have a joint statement or even a draft for one.” The daily didn’t reveal the name of its source.

The source then attributed the reason of the deadlock to the backtracking of the Palestinians in current negotiations. “the Palestinians have back-pedaled to square one (joint statement), to the first day of negotiations,” he said.

However, the diplomat said the lack of a joint statement in and of itself did not constitute a breakdown in the talks.

“Annapolis will re-launch the negotiations for a permanent agreement, that’s where the issues will be debated, there’s no need for a joint statement if that’s the situation,” the official was quoted as saying.

Regarding the upcoming summit, the diplomat said that there will be some 40 representatives from 40 nations attending the conference, the vast majority of whom are at the very least ministers for foreign affairs.

In addition, the official revealed that formal invitations for the conference are scheduled to be issued on Tuesday.

Earlier on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said, during his meeting with visiting French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, that “Annapolis cannot be a failure because its very existence constitutes a success.”

According to a statement released by Olmert’s office, the prime minister said that Israel and the Palestinian National Authority(PNA) intended to launch negotiations on a permanent agreement at Annapolis.

“We are talking about the launching of negotiations that have not been held for seven years, with dozens of countries attending and in front of the entire world,” said Olmert.

“The goal of the Annapolis meeting is to create international support for the bilateral process that will be between us and the Palestinians,” he added.

The Israeli and Palestinian negotiation teams have met several times, trying to bridge the gaps between the two sides and forge an joint document on the Israeli-Palestinian issues before the Annapolis conference takes place.

The conference is scheduled to commence at the end of November in Annapolis, the United States.