Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
said Tuesday that he hopes to resume talks for a final peace agreement with the Palestinians after Israel's
March 28 elections.
"I hope that after [January 25 Palestinian] elections results are in, and after our election results are in, that I will able to enter into negotiations with Abu Mazen [PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
] ... on a final status agreement between us and the Palestinians," Olmert told a news conference.
A condition for resuming the talks, Olmert said, would be Abbas' disarming insurgent Palestinian groups - the same condition Sharon had long set.
Olmert also defended a recent Israeli decision to allow Palestinians in East Jerusalem to vote in the upcoming Palestinian parliamentary elections.
"We don't concede our right to all of Jerusalem, but of course we have an interest in preserving the link of east Jerusalem Palestinians to the West Bank entity," Olmer said, explaining that Israel does not want to be blamed for causing the elections to be canceled. Palestinian leaders had warned that the balloting would not proceed if Jerusalem Palestinians were barred from voting.