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Palestinian leader rejects interim peace deal

Mon., Sept. 1, 2008

JERUSALEM – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected Israel’s idea of an interim peace agreement at a Sunday meeting, a Palestinian negotiator said, insisting on an all-or-nothing approach that virtually ruled out an accord by a January target date.

The latest meeting between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was their shortest, lasting less than an hour. Neither side pointed to progress.

Olmert entered the meeting in a weakened position after his decision to submit his resignation this month when his party picks a new leader.

Olmert’s aides said Sunday he hoped the Palestinians would sign a document outlining any agreements reached with Israel before he leaves office.

But Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Abbas flatly rejected that at the brief summit Sunday.

“We want an agreement to end the (Israeli) occupation and establish an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital,” Erekat said. “President Abbas told Olmert that we will not be part of an interim or shelf agreement,” he said. “Either we agree on all issues, or no agreement at all.”

The Israelis had a more upbeat take on the Sunday meeting.

Olmert spokesman Mark Regev said “significant progress had been made in the talks,” but “there are still considerable gaps between the two sides.”


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