Senior Palestinian officials said Monday they were worried that an inquiry charging Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with "very severe failures" in handling last summer's war in Lebanon will further complicate delicate Mideast peace efforts by weakening his government.
"We view this as an internal Israeli matter," Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said of Monday's report. "We want to continue making peace with the Israeli government. Having said that, we hope that this report and the findings of this report will not further complicate and hinder attempts to revive the peace process."
Deputy Prime Minister Azzam al-Ahmed of Palestinian Authority Chairman Abbas's Fatah movement said he expected Olmert's domestic woes to overshadow his dealings with the Palestinians. "The difficulties are expected to increase after the report," said al-Ahmed. "Even before the report, I had pointed out that there is no real Israeli peace partner, because there is no strong government in Israel."
Khalil Abu Layla, a senior Hamas official in Gaza, said he expected Israeli policy toward the Palestinians to remain constant, regardless of who is in power. "They (Israeli leaders) are all the same in their aggression toward the Palestinians," he said.