Israel, Palestine to start final status talks next week

By Xinhua

Ramallah : Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said here Wednesday that the final-status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) will be kicked off next week.

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At a news conference held in the West Bank city of Ramallah following a meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert held in Jerusalem, Erekat said that the two leaders “have agreed to start the negotiations by the beginning of next week to reach a joint document about the issues” that would be referred to the U.S.-sponsored peace conference slated for November.

“The conference will push for reaching a conclusive peace deal based on the Roadmap, President Bush vision of two-state solution, the Arab peace initiative and the international legitimacy solution,” Erekat told the news conference.

“Abbas and Olmert have agreed to continue meeting regularly to follow up the work of the negotiation teams,” Erekat added.

He revealed that former Palestinian Premier Ahmed Qurei will head the Palestinian negotiation team, which will also include experts and advisors of Abbas.

Erekat himself along with Yasser Abed Rabou, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and a close aide to Abbas, will be part of the team.