Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday night met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in efforts to push forward the peace process between the two neighbors.
The meeting, held at Olmert's official residence in Jerusalem, was the third gathering of the two leaders since the embattled Israeli prime minister announced on July 30 that he would not contend in the upcoming primary of his ruling Kadima party and would resign upon the election of his successor.
With the Kadima elections just hours away, Abbas and Olmert are expected to discuss settlements, borders, Jerusalem and other core issues during the meeting, according to Palestinian sources.
Israeli officials said that Olmert would also refer to Abbas a plan to compensate Jewish settlers for moving away from parts of the West Bank. On Sunday, Israeli TV Channel 2 reported that Olmert has proposed to transfer 98.1 percent of land in the West Bank to the Palestinians.
Little visible progress has been achieved since Olmert and Abbas pledged at a U.S.-hosted peace conference in Annapolis last November to reach a comprehensive peace deal within 2008, leading to lowering expectations for the two sides to achieve the ambitious goal.
Earlier Tuesday, senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat saidon Palestinian radio that Abbas, who has repeatedly expressed skepticism about the Annapolis goal, would stress to Olmert that he would not accept any interim or partial agreement, as an apparent response to Olmert's proposal to solve the Jerusalem question years later.
He added that the Palestinians would work with Israeli prime minister as long as he continued to serve. Besides, Abbas has said that he would cooperate with whoever succeeds Olmert to continue the peace efforts.
Meanwhile, Olmert remains upbeat for a deal by the end of the year, repeatedly saying that significant progress has been achieved. He also told a parliamentary committee on Monday that "every day that passes by without reaching an agreement with the Palestinians is a day we will regret."