PA: Olmert must be living on a different planet

Palestinians warn: Any construction in settlements, east J'lem would "sabotage" the peace process.

Olmert 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Olmert 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday reacted angrily to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's assertion that Ma'aleh Adumim was an "indivisible" part of Jerusalem and Israel, and warned that continued construction in the settlements and Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem would "sabotage" the peace process. In an interview with The Jerusalem Post published Monday, Olmert made it clear that he did not envisage a permanent accord along the 1967 lines, adding that his primary responsibility as prime minister lay in ensuring a "separation" from the Palestinians. "I don't think when people are talking about settlements they are talking about Ma'aleh Adumim," Olmert said. Asked to comment on Olmert's statements, a top PA official in Ramallah said, "Olmert must be living on another planet. Peace and settlements don't go together. If this is his policy, he can forget about finding a partner on the Palestinian side." The official stressed that the PA does not distinguish between an illegal settlement outpost and Ma'aleh Adumim or Har Homa. "These are all illegal settlements that were built on occupied lands belonging to the Palestinian people," he said. PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad called for an end to construction in all settlements and Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem. "Construction work in east Jerusalem and the West Bank is illegal," he said. "This issue will be at the top of the agenda of the peace talks [with Israel]." Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat dismissed Olmert's use of the word "separation," asking, "What does Olmert want to separate from? This term is being used for internal Israeli purposes. We insist on a full withdrawal from the Palestinian territories." Erekat, too, called for an end to construction work in all settlements, including Ma'aleh Adumim, warning that Israel's policy of settlement construction would sabotage the peace process. Erekat said the only way to achieve real peace was by ensuring a full Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders, including east Jerusalem. "The Israeli leadership should start preparing the Israeli public for peace by declaring that the time has come for real peace," Erekat added. "Israel should first withdraw to the pre-1967 borders and solve all the final-status issues. Then Israel should also withdraw from Syrian and Lebanese territories." Meanwhile, PA President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Cairo Tuesday for talks with President Hosni Mubarak ahead of US President George W. Bush's visit to the region next week. Abbas is also scheduled to visit Jordan later this week.