Peace talks must be quickened to meet deadline: Palestinian premier

Israel Materials 19 February 2008 16:27 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Israel-Palestinian peace talks need to be speeded up if the sides are to reach their target of a deal before the end of 2008, Acting Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Thursday.

He told an audience of Jewish-American leaders in Jerusalem that "not enough has happened" since the sides agreed on November 27 at the US-hosted conference in Annapolis, Maryland, to renew peace talks after a seven-year hiatus, and to try and reach an final peace agreement by the end of the year.

The pace of the peace talks, Fayyad said, "has to be stepped up significantly."

The Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been marred by disagreements over Israeli building plans in East Jerusalem, captured in the 1967 war but which Palestinians want as the capital of their future state, and by continued rocket attacks on southern Israel from the Hamas-administered Gaza Strip.

One of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's key coalition partners has said the talks should be stopped because of the ongoing rocket fire, and other attacks by Palestinian militants, but Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who is in charge of the negotiations with the Palestinians, rejected this.

"Halting the negotiations will not stop terrorism and anyone who says different has no hold on reality," Livni told a conference in Jerusalem.

She said Israeli territorial concessions were inevitable if Israel wanted to be a secure, democratic, Jewish state.