Abbas, Olmert to meet to try to bridge gaps: Erekat

By Xinhua

Ramallah : Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert will meet late Monday to bridge gaps between the two sides as a U.S.-hosted peace conference is approaching, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said. The two sides have not yet agreed on a joint document to be presented to the peace meeting due in Annapolis, the United Statesat the end of this month, Erekat said, adding that the differences involve “terms and concepts.”

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Erekat accused Israel of avoiding the implantation of the Road Map peace plan by demanding the Palestinians to recognize Israelas a Jewish state before applying the U.S.-backed plan. However, he revealed that Israel has pledged to “present its answers regarding its commitments in the Road Map.” The Israeli obligations include freezing settlement activities, opening Palestinian National Authority offices in Jerusalem, releasing Palestinian prisoners and renouncing all the changes that happened since the Palestinian Intifada (uprising) in 2002,said Erekat.

The Palestinian negotiator also criticized the international Quartet for “not carrying out its role as a judge and supervisor on the implementation of the Road Map.”

The Road Map peace plan was declared in 2002 by U.S. President George W. Bush who called for creating a viable and democratic Palestinian statehood alongside a secure Israel.

The United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia, known as the international Quartet, are the four entities that sponsor the implantation of the plan that has stopped in 2003due to violence between Israel and Palestinian militant groups.