The summit planned for Tuesday between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been postponed due to disagreements between the two parties. The summit, which had already been postponed once, will most likely take place at the end of October or beginning of November, according to Haaretz. The meeting would have been the first since Israel removed its settlement from the Gaza Strip last month. Palestinian spokesman Nabil Abu Rudineh stated that the parties failed to agree about several key issues, most prominently, details regarding Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons and Israel's handover of additional West Bank towns to Palestinian control.
Palestinian Minister and Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters that Palestinians were seeking the release of 20 prisoners who had already served for more than 20 years in Israeli prisons and for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from several West bank towns, including Bethlehem, Ramallah and Hebron. Israel, for its part, has agreed in principle to release some prisoners, but has not provided exact details regarding their number. Dov Weissglas, Sharon's advisor, met Erekat for a brief reparatory meeting on Sunday where Israel's proposals regarding a joint committee for the release of Palestinian prisoners and the transfer of West Bank cities to Palestinian control were presented. "Israel is talking in general, not talking about numbers and criteria. That's not enough for the Palestinians," Abu Zaydeh, responsible for prisoner negotiations, told reporters. Abbas has also called on Israel to fulfill the Sharm el-Sheikh understandings and return to talks on a final-status agreement.
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