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Palestinian President not optimistic about peace deal with Israel in 2008

Saturday September 06, 2008 20:18 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC News

The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, speaking from Cairo, said that it is unlikely that there will be a peace deal finalized between Israel and the Palestinians before the end of this year.

He made the statement during a press conference Saturday, following talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Abbas stated that while he had hoped that the Annapolis Summit in late 2007 marked some change in Israeli policy, he was disappointed with the lack of progress. He stated, "despite the significant efforts each side has made, there is no certainty we can strike a deal by the end of the year because very little time is left."

He added that any peace agreement between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli occupying army would “have to include all the issues surrounding a permanent agreement”. He mentioned the Palestinian core demands, specifically, that “Jerusalem and the right of return are inalienable Palestinian rights”. The three Palestinian core demands, which have remained the same since the Palestine Liberation Organization was formed in the late 60s, are the right of return for Palestinian refugees who were scattered across the region and globe when Israel was created in 1948, an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital, and the release of all Palestinian political prisoners being held in Israeli prison camps.

After meeting with the Israeli President Shimon Peres in Italy on Friday, Mahmoud Abbas stated that the Palestinian people and the Israeli occupying forces are closer to a peace agreement than ever before. But after meeting with Mubarak on Saturday, he tempered his optimism somewhat, saying that peace was not likely in 2008.

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