Home Muslim World News Erekat: Abbas, Olmert agree on launching permanent status talks

Erekat: Abbas, Olmert agree on launching permanent status talks

By Xinhua

Ramallah : Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed Tuesday to immediately launch the talks on permanent status issues, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said.

Erekat’s declaration on launching the talks was made in a news conference held in Ramallah, following the end of Abbas-Olmert meeting held in Jerusalem on Tuesday afternoon.

Abbas and Olmert agreed on launching the Israeli-Palestinian talks on final status issues one day before United President George W. Bush visits Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Commenting on Bush’s visit to Ramallah and Bethlehem, Erekat said that “Bush said the U.S., himself and the world will stand shoulder to shoulder with the two sides in order to see the implementation of a final peace treaty.”

Erekat added that “Bush is not coming here to conduct the negotiations on any of the permanent status issues, and he is not coming here to impose solutions. The business of negotiations is an Israeli-Palestinian negotiation.”

Commenting on Abbas-Olmert meeting, Erekat said: “The meeting was serious, in depth, and it was held in an impulsive atmosphere.”

He added that “It was agreed between the two leaders that heads of the two teams will conduct the negotiations in all final status issues.”

The permanent status issues are specified as Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, water, environment and security, said Erekat, adding that “the issue of Palestinian prisoners will be discussed in the permanent status talks.”

“This is an issue that is significant for us on the Palestinian side. President Abbas has earlier said that how we can sign a permanent agreement without the release of all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.”

The Palestinians want to continue with the peace negotiations with Israel until reaching a treaty on all permanent status issues. However, the Israeli decision of expanding settlements had angered them.

“Both sides in the last meeting agreed that no side will take any measures or steps on the ground that may prejudge the issues for the permanent status negotiations,” said Erekat.

He added that “this is very clear we negotiate the issue of Jerusalem; we don’t dictate the outcome of the negotiations by building more settlements. So we hope that Israel will have a totally cessation of all settlements activities.”