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Olmert and Abbas meet

Last updated: 2008-09-01

Ehud Olmert

Ehud Olmert

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met in Jerusalem.

Sunday afternoon's meeting, at the Israeli prime minister's official residence, is likely the last before Olmert's Kadima Party holds elections September 17, after which Olmert has said he will step down as prime minister.

Olmert reportedly reprimanded Abbas for meeting with freed Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar. He also pledged to complete a peace deal this year, a target set by the American administration.

It had been rumored that Olmert would push for an interim agreement to present to U.S. President George Bush in September. Olmert officials denied that the prime minister spoke with Abbas about such an agreement, and Palestinian officials indicated they would refuse it, saying they would hold out for a comprehensive agreement.

Abbas asked Olmert to release additional prisoners, according to reports, but the prime minister did not commit to doing so. Israel freed 198 Palestinian prisoners in a good-will gesture last week.

Olmert was also set to recommend international oversight for negotiations over Jerusalem, according to Haaretz.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who attended part of the meeting with her Palestinian counterpart Ahmed Queri, criticized Olmert's rush to get a preliminary agreement signed during Sunday morning's Cabinet meeting.

"We mustn't let timetables dictate our actions and cause us to try and bridge large gaps in a way that may lead to an impasse or force us to concede on issues that are critical to Israel just to achieve results," Livni said.

(c) JTA