JERUSALEM (AFP) -Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas is to discuss with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert the way a future Palestinian state will function, the Israeli leader’s office said on Saturday.
“Questions such as the system of government of the future Palestinian state, its legal and economic systems, will be looked at during the meeting” on Sunday, Olmert’s spokeswoman Miri Eisin told AFP.
“But central questions on the final resolution of the conflict, such as that dealing with borders, that of Jerusalem and of refugees, will not be discussed,” she said.
Security and humanitarian matters would figure in the talks, including issues such as freight traffic and crossing points between Israel and the Palestinian territories. So too would the continued firing of rockets against the Jewish state from the Gaza Strip, despite a ceasefire accord last November.
The two men will meet on Sunday afternoon at Olmert’s official residence in Jerusalem, following up on their agreement — announced late last month by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice — to meet every two weeks.
Earlier this week, Abbas told Christian leaders during a meeting in Bethlehem on the West Bank: “I am going to see Olmert next week to discuss ways of reactivating the peace process in the light of results of the Arab summit in Riyadh.”
That heads of state meeting late in March relaunched a five-year-old Arab peace plan which envisaged normalisation of relations between Arab countries and Israel in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal from territories it occupied in June 1967.
Israel, which dismissed the original plan, has lately spoken of “positive elements” in it. But it rejects the actual current draft mainly over its demand for the right of return of Palestinian refugees who fled during the creation of the Jewish state in 1948.
Israel’s military radio said on Saturday that Olmert envisaged discussing the Arab plan with envoys of the Arab League and should take a decision on this next week. His spokeswoman refused to comment on the report.
Olmert said last week that he was ready to attend a summit with Arab leaders to discuss the Saudi-drafted plan and called on Arab nations to convene such a meeting.
Two days later, Arab League chief Amr Mussa Arab League chief rejected an Israeli invitation to such a regional summit, describing it as “not serious” and having the only aim of getting “normalisation for free.”