Peace in 2008 would be miracle-Palestinian envoy

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) – Impediments in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks mean a “miracle” would be required to meet the U.S.-set goal of an accord by the end of 2008, the chief Palestinian negotiator said on Wednesday.

“All the issues were discussed with the Israeli side and there has been no tangible progress as of now,” Ahmed Qurie, a former Palestinian prime minister, told leaders of his Fatah faction in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

“Reaching a peace agreement by the end of this year would require a miracle.”

U.S. President George W. Bush, chief sponsor of the peace negotiations, wants to secure an accord on Palestinian statehood before he steps down in January.

Progress has been stymied by disputes over Israeli settlement construction on occupied West Bank land and violence on the border with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

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