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Olmert Questions Israeli Control of Jerusalem's Arab Neighborhoods

By VOA News
15 October 2007

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has raised questions about Israel's control of Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem. His remarks Monday came in a speech remembering a prominent right-wing parliamentarian who was killed by Palestinian militants. Mr. Olmert asked if it was necessary for Israel to control Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem.

His comments come a day after he met U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Israel, and on the same day Rice held talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Rice spoke Monday in Ramallah at a joint news conference with President Abbas. She said Israelis and Palestinians are making their most serious effort in years to end the conflict.

She says President Bush has made resolving the conflict "one of the highest priorities of his administration."

Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas have been working on a joint document ahead of a U.S.-sponsored peace conference in November, in Annapolis, Maryland to lay the groundwork for an eventual Palestinian state.

Mr. Abbas says he believes Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will be able to reach agreement on a joint declaration of principles before the conference. But Prime Minister Olmert said an agreement on a joint document is not a prerequisite for the conference.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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