The Palestinian leadership has reacted to Ehud Olmert’s victory in Israeli elections by saying the prime minister should change policies if he wants to change relations with his neighbours.
Olmert’s post-election statement that Israel would unilaterally fix its borders by 2010 in the absence of negotiations has not been welcomed by the Palestinians. President Mahmoud Abbas said the election would have little effect if Olmert continued along the same lines. “He will form the government and we hope he will change his policy from unilateral steps to negotiating steps,” said Abbas. The prospect of talks between the two sides seems remote since the militant group Hamas came to power in the territories. The Israeli election came as the new Hamas-led government, under the leadership of Ismail Haniyeh, was preparing to take office. Olmert has ruled out any dealings with Hamas until it recognises Israel, disarms and accepts interim peace deals.