Abbas to MKs: J'lem on the table

But Kadima Delegation visiting Ramallah told by Abbas, Qurei that negotiations haven't started yet.

Abbas 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Abbas 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did not help Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's chances of surviving next week's publication of the Winograd Report when he told Kadima MKs who visited him in Ramallah Thursday that Jerusalem was on the table in diplomatic talks. Shas chairman Eli Yishai told Olmert this week that if the Jerusalem issue was raised in negotiations, his party would leave the coalition, which is also threatened by Labor chairman Ehud Barak's vow to remove his party upon Winograd's publication. "Everything is on the table and nothing is excluded," Palestinian chief negotiator Ahmed Qurei told reporters when asked whether Jerusalem would be a subject for negotiations. "Jerusalem, borders, settlements, refugees water, everything," Abbas added. "It's important for both sides to continue talking. We are talking constantly." Asked whether the Palestinians would accept Shas's demand that the Jerusalem issue be raised last in the talks, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told The Jerusalem Post "All on the table means everything from the beginning. We haven't started negotiations yet, but that's what was decided in Annapolis." Erekat insisted that the negotiations must proceed full speed ahead and without restrictions due to the one-year time limit agreed in Annapolis in November. "Our two sides have to go forward in the negotiations," he said. "Right now there are deliberations, but only in general terms. It's important to move from general to specific terms, because we only have a year." The meeting with Abbas was attended by Deputy Foreign Minister Majallie Whbee and MKs Amira Dotan, Ronit Tirosh and Michael Nudelman. Whbee downplayed the statements of Abbas and Qurei and their impact on the coalition's survival. "There is a difference between 'on the table' and actual negotiations," Whbee said. "'On the table' just means raising issues. Once things are 'on the table', you decide what to start with, and they haven't started yet." Shas officials said they were taking what Abbas and Qurei said seriously. They added that they would not tolerate Israeli concessions on the Jerusalem issue. "Shas will not be part of the government from the moment that it drafts and presents an Israeli position that makes concessions on red lines like Jerusalem," a source close to Yishai said. "We would leave as soon as such concessions are decided on, even before they are offered to the Palestinians." The Palestinian statements added further complications to Olmert's preparations for the Winograd Report's release. Olmert has considered every possible outcome and fallout from the report with his advisers. A Shvakim Panorama poll broadcast Thursday on Israel Radio found that a significant majority of Israelis believed that Olmert would survive the report. According to the survey, a majority of the public wants Barak to stand by his threat to quit, but most Labor voters want him to keep his party in the government. The chairman of the Knesset State Control Committee, MK Zevulun Orlev (National Union-National Religious Party), asked committee chairman Eliahu Winograd to move up the publication of the report from Wednesday to Tuesday to allow the Knesset to deliberate on the report. As things stand, Winograd will give a press conference in Jerusalem Wednesday evening in which he will read portions of the report in Hebrew and English. The conference will be covered by journalists from dozens of countries.