Region | Palestine

Olmert retreats from full settlement halt

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has balked at committing to a total freeze in settlement activity, a government spokesman said.

  • Agencies
  • Published: 18:14 December 28, 2007
  • Gulf News

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Occupied Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has balked at committing to a total freeze in settlement activity, a government spokesman said.

Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met for a two-hour meeting on Thursday to push for Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations.

Israel has said it plans to build hundreds of new homes east of Occupied Jerusalem known to Israelis as Har Homa and to Palestinians as Jabal Abu Ghneim.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Abbas sought a stop to all settlement activity as spelled out in the long-stalled "road map" peace plan.

"We won't agree with the Palestinians on every issue on day one," Olmert's spokesman, Mark Regev, said after the meeting. "The Palestinians have their positions. We have ours. And the commitment is to work to overcome gaps."

A senior Israeli official added, "The prime minister has not promised to freeze [housing] tenders that have already been published and are already under way."

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