Tuesday, November 20, 2007
"20/11/2007 Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Tuesday that any future settlement deal would not be implemented until the Palestinian Authority retakes control of the Gaza Strip. "There will be no implementation of the treaty before the roadmap commitments are all implemented," Olmert told journalists after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. "The commitments also apply to the Gaza Strip, (for the Palestinians) Gaza must be part of the Palestinian state and then, naturally, the Palestinians must fight terrorism, and that includes the Gaza Strip."
Olmert's meeting with President Hosni Mubarak came ahead of a US settlement conference later this month after Olmert and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Monday failed to reach agreement on a joint statement designed to serve as the basis for final status negotiations.
Washington called the meeting in the US town of Annapolis with the aim of jumpstarting settlement talks after a seven-year freeze, but expectations about its outcome have sunk amid the stalemate between the two sides.
"Both sides have made some progress on certain issues of the joint statement, but other issues still remain open," a senior Israeli official told reporters following the latest Abbas-Olmert talks.
"Nevertheless both sides seem ripe to reaching a joint statement at the Annapolis summit," he said. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah: "There are differences, the meeting was difficult, the differences remain and the teams are convening again tonight."
On Monday, Israel vowed to stop building new settlements in the occupied West Bank and said it would free 450 Palestinian detainees as a gesture to Abbas head of the US conference. Palestinian government spokesman Riyad al-Malki welcomed the decision, but said it was "insufficient." Palestinians have requested that Israel free some 2,000 of the 11,000 Palestinian detainees it is holding."