Aides of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the leader was considering resigning if sufficient progress was not made in the coming months in the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Abbas wants a curb on the expansion of Jewish settlements, and the easing of military roadblocks in the West Bank. As negotiations continued in Jerusalem, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, called the talks meaningless in the light of the ongoing blockade in Gaza. The US backed initiative has made no obvious progress since its inception in Annapolis in 2007 and there are doubts from both sides that it will meet its target to end a 60-year conflict by the end of this year.
VOICE OF ZAA NKWETA, PRODUCER/PRESENTER: Monday’s meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert took place in Jerusalem. Abba planned to press Israel on Jewish settlements and military roadblocks in the West Bank. Issues mentioned by Condoleezza Rice on her recent diplomatic mission in the region. According to Haaretz, Palestinian dissatisfaction with the pace of negotiations continues to grow. Abbas aides said the Palestinian leader was considering resigning, if sufficient progress isn’t made in the coming months. Abbas has sounded increasingly pessimistic in recent weeks. Stating continued settlement and construction on lands the Palestinian claim, and Israel’s refusal to remove roadblocks, and ease other travel restrictions, are undermining the negotiations. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev underlined the significance of the talks.
MARK REGEV, ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN: These talks are serious, quite possibly the most serious talks an Israeli side has ever has ever had with the Palestinian side.
However, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said with the ongoing blockade of Gaza the talks are meaningless.
FAWZI BARHOUM, HAMAS SPOKESMAN (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): All types of meeting between President Abbas and Olmert covering up the Israeli commission of crimes, and aggression against the Palestinians, while there is in Gaza a disaster, a catastrophe situation and complete occupation for the West bank, and expansion of settlements in Jerusalem.
VOICE OF NKWETA: Haaretz reports that talks have made no obvious progress since getting under way at a US-sponsored peace conference in Annapolis last year. with US backing, the two men have set a year-end target for reaching a final peace deal to end 60-years of conflict, though the sides have recently expressed some doubts about meeting that goal.
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