Olmert: Agreement in the Cards

Ehud Olmert said he still expects to complete a peace agreement with the Palestinians before he leaves office.

“I believe it is possible, I believe it is timely, I believe a declaration is needed,” the Israeli prime minister said Tuesday in Washington, a day after he met with President Bush. “I am ready to make it and I hope the other side is.”

Olmert, tainted by scandal, resigned earlier this year and is in office as an interim prime minister until after Israeli elections on Feb. 10. The difficulties of assembling a coalition after the vote could keep him in office until mid-March.

Potential successors have sharply criticized Olmert for sustaining intensive diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinians and, to a lesser degree, with Syria, even though he is a lame-duck leader.

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