Abbas, Olmert to meet in Egypt

Abbas, Olmert to meet in Egypt

RAMALLAH – Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet next week for the first time since Hamas routed Abbas’s Fatah group in Gaza, Palestinian and Egyptian officials said yesterday.

An Egyptian official said the two men who last met in April, would hold talks at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt together with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan’s King Abdullah. Abbas was likely to meet Arab leaders on Sunday and then hold talks with Olmert the following day, an Egyptian diplomat told Reuters.Miri Eisin, a spokeswoman for Olmert, said the summit was planned as a venue ‘to talk about mutual cooperation and ways to go forward on the Israeli-Palestinian track’.Israeli officials said the talks were likely to be held on Monday.Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior aide to the Western-backed Abbas, said he hoped the summit would lay a ‘cornerstone’ for starting Palestinian-Israeli negotiations that would lead to an agreement to achieve Palestinian statehood.But Hamas poured cold water on the idea, saying the summit would not yield any new benefits for Palestinians.In a meeting in the occupied West Bank, the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s central council called on Thursday for “dissolving all militias,” including Hamas and Fatah forces — a move that would meet a longstanding US and Israeli demand.It was unclear how such a decision could be enforced.Olmert and Abbas last met in April despite agreeing with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice earlier this year that they would do so at least every two weeks.The Israeli leader reaffirmed his commitment to the vision of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, with US President George W Bush in Washington on Tuesday, both endorsing Abbas’s leadership after Hamas routed his Fatah group in Gaza last week.The Islamist Hamas’s victory on June 14 has divided control over the Palestinian territories between Hamas now in charge in the Gaza Strip, and Fatah movement in the occupied West Bank.Abbas has since set up a new emergency cabinet naming Salam Fayyad as prime minister, after sacking a unity government headed by Hamas.Hamas insists the joint coalition is still alive and headed by its leader Ismail Haniyeh.Israel launched its first contacts in 15 months with the Palestinian Authority on Wednesday, with a phone call between Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Fayyad.It had boycotted the Hamas-led coalition which refused to recognise the Jewish state.Nampa-ReutersAbbas was likely to meet Arab leaders on Sunday and then hold talks with Olmert the following day, an Egyptian diplomat told Reuters.Miri Eisin, a spokeswoman for Olmert, said the summit was planned as a venue ‘to talk about mutual cooperation and ways to go forward on the Israeli-Palestinian track’.Israeli officials said the talks were likely to be held on Monday.Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior aide to the Western-backed Abbas, said he hoped the summit would lay a ‘cornerstone’ for starting Palestinian-Israeli negotiations that would lead to an agreement to achieve Palestinian statehood.But Hamas poured cold water on the idea, saying the summit would not yield any new benefits for Palestinians.In a meeting in the occupied West Bank, the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s central council called on Thursday for “dissolving all militias,” including Hamas and Fatah forces — a move that would meet a longstanding US and Israeli demand.It was unclear how such a decision could be enforced.Olmert and Abbas last met in April despite agreeing with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice earlier this year that they would do so at least every two weeks.The Israeli leader reaffirmed his commitment to the vision of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, with US President George W Bush in Washington on Tuesday, both endorsing Abbas’s leadership after Hamas routed his Fatah group in Gaza last week.The Islamist Hamas’s victory on June 14 has divided control over the Palestinian territories between Hamas now in charge in the Gaza Strip, and Fatah movement in the occupied West Bank.Abbas has since set up a new emergency cabinet naming Salam Fayyad as prime minister, after sacking a unity government headed by Hamas.Hamas insists the joint coalition is still alive and headed by its leader Ismail Haniyeh.Israel launched its first contacts in 15 months with the Palestinian Authority on Wednesday, with a phone call between Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Fayyad.It had boycotted the Hamas-led coalition which refused to recognise the Jewish state.Nampa-Reuters

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