Palestinian official says conditions for peace have not changed

Other News Materials 2 October 2008 16:18 (UTC +04:00)

Palestinian conditions for peace with Israel have not changed, a senior Palestinian Authority official said Thursday, in response to an newspaper interview by outgoing Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert and the subsequent reaction by President Mahmoud Abbas.

Olmert, in a newspaper interview published Monday, said Israel would have to withdraw from "almost all, if not all, the (occupied) territories" if it wanted peace, reported dpa.

According to senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, Abbas told a delegation of Muslim, Christian and Samaritan clerics that if the conditions for peace were achieved, a treaty could be reached within two days.

"I heard him say, when asked about Olmert's statements, that we have serious and deep negotiations with Israel and if Olmert agrees to withdraw to the June 4, 1967 borders, establish an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital alongside Israel, with West Jerusalem as its capital, and solve final status issues based on relevant international resolutions, we can reach peace within two days," Erekat said.

Palestinians had earlier dismissed the Olmert interview with the Yediot Ahronot daily as coming too late, and only after the Israeli leader announced he would resign the premiership.

They also maintained that Olmert only spoke about parts of the West Bank and some neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem, neglecting to mention the Palestinian refugee issue and Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Abbas however was quoted in reports as saying that "these (Olmert's) words will bring us to peace. It was better if he had said them from the start, but we hope this will be entrusted with the next Israeli government."

The Palestinian president also talked about his latest meeting with US President George W Bush in Washington, saying that "the best of what we heard from President Bush was that the Palestinian side has met its obligations. This is the first time we hear this from the American administration."

"This means that the current administration's report to the next one will be positive and it will make it possible for the new administration to work quickly and without interruption with the Palestinian issue," he said.

Abbas also said he will continue to work with the current Israeli government until it leaves office and then he will continue to work with the new government after it is formed.