United States President
George W. Bush (L) speaks while Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
looks on during their joint news conference held in the West Bank
town of Ramallah, Jan. 10, 2008. Bush said that he believes an
Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty will be signed before he leaves
office early next year.
Heads of Israeli and Palestinian negotiation teams, Israeli
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed
Qurei, will meet on Monday to begin talks on final-status issues of
the conflict, local daily Ha'aretz reported on Sunday.
Israeli officials confirmed that the first meeting on
final-status issues between the Israelis and the Palestinians would
be held on Monday and would be attended only by the negotiation
So-called final-status issues are the thorniest disputes between
Israel and the Palestinians, which included control of Jerusalem,
Palestinian borders, Israel's settlements in the West Bank,
Palestinian refugees, security and water resources.
Speaking in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas announced the decision, saying that "If we
reach an agreement on these issues, we could say that there is an
The talks are expected to be held according to a "three-level"
model. First, Livni and Qurei will discuss the core issues in a
direct dialogue; The negotiation teams will then discuss the issues
in details; In case of a disagreement, Abbas and Olmert will
intervene, according to the daily.
Abbas' announcement came three days after President George W.
Bush ended a three-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian
territories on Friday.
Bush, who will leave the White House in January of 2009, said
during the visit that Israel and the Palestinians would reach an
agreement by the end of 2008, as they had agreed to do at the
Annapolis peace conference in November.
(Xinhua News Agency January 14, 2008)