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Israeli PM seeks accord on core issues within a year
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10:20, November 03, 2007

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Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert hopes to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians within a year, before U.S. President George W. Bush leaves office, the mass-selling daily Ha'aretz reported on Friday.

Ha'aretz said Olmert's plan was revealed in conversations with both Israeli officials and foreign diplomats over the last few days.

Citing government officials, the report said that Olmert's speculation was based on two reasons.

One is that Bush had expressed, in the past, his support for Israel's retention of the major settlement blocs. The second is that the Bush-sponsored road map peace plan requires the Palestinians to dismantle terror organizations before a Palestinian state can be established.

"We'll never have a more comfortable administration," one of Olmert's associate quoted him as saying, adding, "And the next administration will not be committed to these principles to the same degree."

However, the report said despite his desire to reach an agreement within a year, Olmert opposes a rigid timetable for implementation, which is demanded by the Palestinian side during current negotiations.

Israel and the Palestinians are currently addressing negotiations in the hope of reaching a joint declaration ahead of a U.S.-sponsored international Middle East peace summit to be held this month or December.

But the two sides have failed to work out any agreement as the gap between them is huge especially on the core issues, including the borders of a Palestinian state, sovereignty of disputed Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees.

While the Palestinians voices demands for a detailed timetable for establishment of a Palestinian statehood, Israel insists that the Palestinians should crack down on militants first.


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