Abbas - Olmert summit
The four-way summit in Sharm
Article added on June 26, 2007
The four-way summit with
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (aka Palestinian President Abu Mazen), Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert,
Jordan's King Abdullah II and the host, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak,
has offered late support for Abbas.
Ehud Olmert announced that:
“As a gesture of good will towards the Palestinians, I will bring before
the Israeli cabinet at its next meeting a proposal to free 250 Fatah
prisoners who do not have blood on their hand, after they sign a commitment
not to return to violence.” In other
words, the prime minister was only ready to free prisoners held in Israeli
Israel does not hold directly responsible for Israeli deaths. Previously,
Olmert had ruled out freeing Palestinian prisoners as long as IDF corporal
Gilal Shalit remains in captivity.
Minister Avigdor Liberman of the Yisrael Beiteinu party was the only Israeli
cabinet member openly opposed to the release of the 250 Fatah prisoners.
Several right wing Knesset members, including Benny Elon of the National
Union party and Yisrael Hasson of the Yisrael Beiteinu party were opposed to
the prisoners release too, whereas Yossi Beilin of the left-wing party
Meretz called Prime Minister Olmert's speech
“courageous and important”.
The Israeli cabinet also decided to unfreeze Palestinian taxes. Ahead of the
Olmert - Abbas summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Prime Minister Olmert's
spokeswoman Miri Eisin told AFP that the Israeli government had
“taken a decision in principle to release the money”. In total, Israeli
authorities have collected some $600 million in taxes on behalf
of the Palestinian Authority over the past 15 months with Hamas-led
Prime Minister Olmert has not offered further concessions, e.g. opening
border passes and removing roadblocks, promised a long time ago but never
made because of the security situation. Right now, Israeli military and
security officials opposed it again.
Israel has not yet abandoned its settlement policy, and Marwan Barghouti is
still in an Israeli jail. Many more steps need to be taken before a serious
peace agreement between Israeli and Palestinians becomes possible.
Jewish sheet music -
Klezmer sheet music.
The most important thing about the Abbas - Olmert summit in Sharm el-Sheik
is probably that it took place. It was the first meeting of the Palestinian
President and the Israeli Prime Minister since April 15, 2007.
According to the Financial Times, British Prime Minister Tony
Blair (to be replaced in this position by Gordon Brown on June 27, 2007)
will become the Middle East envoy of the Middle East Quartet composed by the
United Nations, the European Union, the United States of America and Russia.
[Added on June 27, 2007: Today, the Middle East Quartet appointed Tony Blair
as its Middle East envoy]. Blair's
appointment would underline the importance the Quartet attributes to
resolving the Middle East Crisis.
Early in the morning on June 26, 2007, two Qassam rockets were fired at
Israel from the Gaza Strip. On June 25, 2007 exactly one year after his
abduction, a recorded tape message from Gilal Shalit was released, probably
with the approval of Haniyeh, making sure that the world is reminded that
peace cannot be achieved with Hamas sidelined.
Former Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh once again called on Fatah
and Hamas to resume their Government of National Unity. Furthermore, he demanded the creation of a new Palestinian security organization, which
would not be dominated by Fatah followers, but be more balanced and include
Hamas members too. According to Haniyeh, the civil war in Gaza was
“the result of pressure that had been directed against [Hamas] for a year
and a half.
The head of the Palestinian intelligence service, Tawfiq Triawi, accused
Hamas of planning to assassinate President Abbas. Considering the
civil war in Gaza,
the dissolution of the National Unity Government by Abu Mazen
and the fact that not only the Qassam brigades are unhappy with Abbas as
well as with the Mecca Agreement between Fatah and Hamas of February 2007,
an assassination attempt would fit into the picture.
Before, on June 12, 2007 a rocket-propelled grenade hit the home of then
Prime Minister Haniyeh. Neither Haniyeh nor his family were harmed. Still,
this was an assassination attempt too. Hours before this assassination
attempt, gunmen - probably from Hamas - killed the senior Fatah official in
northern Gaza, Jamal Abu al-Jediyan.
Further de-escalation is needed in Palestine. If Hamas is pushed to the
wall, it may start a wave of Palestinian suicide attacks - not only against
Fatah members in the West Bank - maybe also against civilians in Israel.
Jewish sheet music -
Klezmer sheet music.