Israel's refusal to discuss a final status agreement with the Palestinian Authority proves the Palestinians have no partner for negotiations, PA Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti said Friday. Barghouti issued a statement in which he accused Israel of trying to "get around" the establishment of an independent Palestinian state as a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israel Radio reported. Barghouti said Israel was adopting "shady," unacceptable approaches, such as proposing temporary borders. Furthermore, the PA official said, Israel's government is weak and unable to deal with the PA unity government, the cease-fire, the Arab peace initiative, or arrange a prisoner exchange for kidnapped Cpl. Gilad Schalit.
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On Wednesday, the Prime Minister's Office said that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would block any attempt by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to discuss final status issues when the two leaders meet on Sunday.
An official in the PMO said that topics such as Jerusalem, refugees and borders would remain off the agenda until the Palestinians meet the three conditions set by the Quartet - recognition of Israel, renunciation of violence and endorsement of existing agreements. Only then would Israel be willing to discuss issues related to the "political horizon" outlined by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice when she visited the region last month, such as the economy of a future Palestinian state and rule of law.
According to sources close to Abbas, top of the agenda at Sunday's meeting will be the prisoner issue and the tax revenues frozen by Israel after Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections last year.
The Olmert-Abbas meeting will be the first time the two leaders have met since Rice announced last month in Jerusalem that they would hold discussions every two weeks.