Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are serious but may not produce an accord by year’s end, Mahmoud Abbas said.
“We have not started drafting anything,” the Palestinian Authority president told reporters Wednesday when asked about progress in negotiations with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s government. “So far it is an exchange of opinions and an in-depth discussion.”
Olmert and Abbas revived diplomatic contacts at last year’s peace conference in Annapolis, Md., and President Bush wants to see some kind of agreement before he leaves office in January 2009.
Yet the Israelis and Palestinians remain divided on key issues such as the fate of Jerusalem and West Bank settlements. It is also unclear how Abbas can deliver peace when the Gaza Strip remains under Hamas rule.
“The attitude of all parties involved is serious, but will we be able to reach a final agreement? We hope,” Abbas said. “I cannot be certain that we will achieve an accord by the end of 2008, but I can say that we are working and we are hopeful.”