Israeli and Palestinian leaders have re-committed themselves to peace at an international conference in the the US.
US President Geroge W Bush urged Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas leaders to reach an agreement on ending their conflict by the end of next year:
“We agree to immediately launch good faith bilateral negotiations in order to conclude a peace treaty resolving all outstanding issues including all core issues without exception as specified in previous agreements. We agree to engage an vigourous ongoing and continuous negotiation and should make every effort to conclude an agreement before the end of 2008”.
The accord emerged from lengthy, last-minute negotiations between the parties on a joint document meant to chart the course of so-called “final status” talks on Jerusalem, borders, security and the fate of Palestinian refugees.
Abbas spoke of not giving up hope. He called on the world to help end the confict and what he described as “the years of occupation and suffering”.
Bt al three leaders are politically weak at home.
And they will have to overcome deep doubts about whether an agreement is possible within Bush’s last 14 months in office.
For his part Olmert said the Israelis wanted peace. We demand an end to terrorism and hatred. He added: “We are ready for painful and risky compromises”.
The joint document gave the United States a key role — judging whether the parties are fulfilling their requirements under the 2003 US— backed
“road map” to peace.