Palestinians held massive protests against the Middle East
peace conference in Annapolis [Reuters]

Israel and the Palestinian Authority have agreed on a joint statement at the Annapolis peace conference hoping it would lead to a full peace pact before the end of 2008, George Bush, the US president, said on Tuesday.

 

The following are reactions to the announcement.

 

Avigdor Lieberman, Israeli cabinet minister

 

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"What I found important in Olmert's speech is that he spoke of 'security and peace' and demanded a halt to rocket attacks against Sderot, while Bush spoke of 'peace and security'.

 

I am not sure there will be an agreement or even negotiations... what is important is whether after Annapolis the direction will be to dismantle [Jewish settler] outposts or Hamas.

 

We hope it will be Hamas. I demand determined action in Gaza."

 

Sami Abu Zuhri, senior Palestinian Hamas official

 

"Abbas has committed a crime by pledging to follow the road map... Resistance will continue against the occupation by all means.

 

We have heard too many false promises... Bush has failed to deliver anything for the Palestinians during his presidency... He is completely biased towards Israel."

 

Frank-Walter Stenimeier, German foreign minister

 

"I had eye contact with Arab colleagues during the speeches... The Arab world certainly appreciated how respectfully Olmert... addressed the suffering of the Palestinian people."

 

Ahmed Youssef, aide to ousted Palestinian PM Ismail Haniya

 

"It was a waste of time... What we see can only be a farewell party for George Bush and a hopeless attempt to portray him as a great leader."

 

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"The talks will prove that you cannot talk peace without the participation of the elected representatives of the Palestinian people"

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Zalman Shoval, Israel's Likud party

 

"Abu Mazen [Abbas] has really no control and no authority and if you listened to his speech today he didn't give an inch on his quite extreme demands on Jerusalem, borders and so on... The chances of anything coming out of this are quite slim."

 

Danny Dayan, spokesman for Yesha, a Jewish settler group

 

"The transparent attempt to complete negotiations within a timeframe that will allow George Bush to get the Nobel Peace Prize will lead to a catastrophe.

 

Expectations will rise and when they are dashed, the resulting frustration will bring only violence. George Bush is telling the world that the pieces should be picked up by his successor.

 

A Palestinian state would be a threat to the very existence of Israel."

 

Ahmed Tibi, Israeli-Arab legislator

 

"The Israeli right-wing has nothing to worry about yet, because nothing has yet been agreed on the actual creation of the Palestinian state.

 

We have seen previous promises for an agreement that have not been met."

 

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's president

 

"The Arab countries should ask for the opinions of their people. They should hold a referendum and see whether or not their people agree with the attendance of their leaders in this conference. Then it will be revealed that this conference is already a failure.
 
"It is impossible that the Zionist regime will survive. Collapse is in the nature of this regime because it has been created on aggression, lying, oppression and crime."

 

Fahmi Zarir, spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction

 

"Annapolis is a step in a long path of difficult negotiations. We support our leadership and we trust it... We reject normalisation and coexistence as long as there is occupation. Israel should withdraw from our territories.

 

All of us in Fatah stand behind President Mahmoud Abbas."

 

Negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians
are to begin on Wednesday [Reuters]
Elie Shani, Netanya resident

 

"I think that the problem of Israel is not Abu Mazen. It's the Hamas, it's Iran, and the Hamas and Iran is not in Annapolis so I don't know how can it help us."

 

Afif Bargouthi, Ramallah resident

 

"Bush talks with an attitude of strength: 'You must do as I say, otherwise I won't give to you.'

 

Our hopes are great that the Palestinian delegation won't fulfil his goals in helping Israel take what is left of our land."

 

Mohammed Zalloun, Hebron businessman

 

"This is a failed piece of theatre that has been played out many times in the past. When I watch TV I wish Israeli and Palestinian leaders would change their rhetoric."

 

Hila Drechler, Israeli student in Tel Aviv

 

"I think it is good that our government is willing to attend the conference in Annapolis and I hope something will come out but unfortunately I am not sure we will have a solution in the near future."

 

Raed Fayez, Ramallah resident

 

"This is the strongest speech I have heard from Abu Mazen... Abu Mazen didn't compromise."

 

Nidal Mouhtasib, Palestinian accountant in Hebron

 

"Both sides expressed readiness to make concessions. I hope peace will come."

Source: Agencies