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Abbas - Olmert summit
The four-way summit in Sharm el-Sheikh
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 jails who 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 governments.

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 story of Klezmer 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 - The story of Klezmer music


Deutsch Politik Geschichte Kunst Film Musik Lebensart Reisen
English Politics History Art Film Music Lifestyle Travel
Français Politique Histoire Arts Film Musique Artdevivre Voyages

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© Copyright www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.