Less than a week after promising to seek peace with the Palestinians by the end of 2008, Ehud Olmert says he doesn’t like the odds. “We will make an effort to hold speedy negotiations,” he said, “but certainly there is no firm timetable.” The remarks seem designed to reassure Israeli right-wingers that Olmert won’t give too many concessions, Reuters says.
Olmert stressed that Israel wouldn’t have to honor any commitments from this latest round of talks until all the conditions on the stalled 2003 “road map” were met. Peace has always seemed unlikely, because both Olmert and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas are unpopular. Israel is trying to help Abbas, however, by releasing 430 Fatah prisoners, and increasing raids on rival Hamas.