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Mideast peace forum may reach deadlock before it starts

RIA Novosti

19/11/2007 13:29 TEL AVIV, November 19 (RIA Novosti) - The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) has renounced all previous agreements with Israel on drafting a joint statement to be adopted at the upcoming Annapolis peace summit, the Haaretz newspaper said.

It cited unidentified sources in Jerusalem as saying that the U.S.-sponsored summit could end without a joint declaration, as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas prepare to meet on Monday in an effort to achieve a breakthrough in the drafting of the document.

It also said there is an increasingly acrimonious discussion in the Palestinian camp over the way negotiations with Israel and the United States are being conducted.

One of the main issues still in contention is the establishment of a tripartite committee, comprising Israeli, Palestinian and American officials, to monitor the implementation of the first stage of the road map.

Another issue that may lead to a deadlock is Abbas' request for a firm timetable for the completion of the negotiations and the implementation of agreements.

The Haaretz paper quoted a senior Israeli official as saying that "a situation is certainly possible by which there will be no joint declaration and we will have to make do with two separate statements."

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the significance of the Annapolis summit must not be exaggerated, nor should it be ignored.

"One should not exaggerate the significance of the summit or create excessive expectations for it," the paper quoted him as saying. "But it is also not necessary to diminish the significance of the fact that the U.S. president and world leaders are convening a meeting as wide as this to show their support for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians."

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