Peace Talks Snag on Jerusalem

Palestinians want to discuss issue Israelis say isn't on the table
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2008 6:14 AM CST
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a press conference at Bahrain International Airport in Muharraq, Bahrain, on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008. Negotiations with Israel are set to resume Tuesday....   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Peace talks between Israel and Palestinians were set to resume today as leaders were already entangled in a first major clash: over whether or not they agreed that Jerusalem would be part of the discussion. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has claimed the Palestinians agreed to put off discussing Jerusalem. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas insisted they have not.

"We will postpone dealing with Jerusalem to the last phase of the negotiation" process, Olmert said, stressing that Abbas "accepted" his position. But a Palestinian spokesman called Jerusalem a "fundamental" issue that "cannot be postponed." Palestinian officials also angrily reacted to a statement by an Israeli minister that the government intended to press on with building Jewish settlements on Arab land in Jerusalem.