olmert abbas euromed 298.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday said that efforts to schedule a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have broken down, aides in the prime minister's office said Sunday.
The aides quoted Olmert as saying Abbas is demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners as a condition for holding the meeting.
Olmert said there would be no prisoner release until Hamas-linked operatives in the Gaza Strip release kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit, captured in June.
"We offered to meet with Abu Mazen, but apparently he is not interested," Olmert was quoted as saying during a meeting.
"He is conditioning a meeting on the release of prisoners and we will not release any prisoners until Gilad Shalit is released," he said.
In the beginning of October, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat held a covert meeting with Olmert's foreign policy adviser Shalom Turgeman and chief of staff Yoram Turbowicz as part of preparations for a long-anticipated summit between Abbas and Olmert.
Erekat said the sides "have a long way to go" before the ground work would be complete and wouldn't speculate on whether the Olmert-Abbas meeting would come by the end of the month.