Differences over the issue emerged this week when Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian negotiator, said Palestinians would not accept Israel as a “Jewish state”.
This assertion is seen by critics as a way for Olmert to argue against a return of refugees in a final deal.
Olmert is struggling to hold together his diverse governing coalition, which includes right-wingers, ahead of what both sides consider a last-ditch bid for a deal before George Bush, the US president, leaves office in January 2009.
“We do not accept conditions of this type, not at all,” Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, told Al-Arabiya television.
“We do not accept conditions of this type, not at all”
Palestinian prime minister
Asked about Olmert’s comments to Solana, Erekat accused the Israeli leader of asking Palestinians to meet conditions that were not set out in a 2003 “road map” charting reciprocal steps towards creating a Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel.
“The road map asks us to commit in an unequivocal way to recognise the right of the state of Israel to exist,” he said.
Erekat said Israelis “can call themselves whatever they want – we have recognised the state of Israel“.
In the run-up to the peace summit, the Israeli media reported on Wednesday that Israel would announce a freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank
Officials have been quoted by the media as saying that Olmert has sent officials to Washington to work out exactly what the freeze would entail.
|Israel is being urged to freeze settlements ahead of the US conference [GALLO/Getty]|
Meanwhile Erekat called on Israel to halt all settlement activity.