(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met yesterday evening (Saturday), 23.12.06, at
his Jerusalem residence, with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas. During the meeting, which was conducted in a good and friendly atmosphere, the two men expressed their willingness to cooperate - as genuine partners - in an effort to advance the peace process between Israel
and the PA and to reach a solution of two states living side by side in
peace and security, according to the Roadmap ( http://tinyurl.com/y5n73t ).
The two leaders agreed that the Israeli and Palestinian peoples have
suffered enough and that the time has come to advance the peace process via
concrete steps and to refrain from taking any measures that could
predetermine the number of issues that will be resolved in negotiations.
The two leaders believe that this meeting was a first step towards
rebuilding the sides' confidence and in establishing a fruitful partnership.
The two leaders emphasized the importance of direct and serious contact
between them and decided to meet frequently, thus continuing the ongoing
link between them, in order to advance current issues on the agenda.
Prime Minister Olmert expressed his concern over the continued fire of
Kassam rockets from the Gaza Strip and said that Israel could show restraint
for long if the violations of the ceasefire ( http://tinyurl.com/sthf > &
http://tinyurl.com/y8fd3s ) continue.
The two leaders agreed to reconsider expanding the ceasefire to the West
Bank, in keeping with the February 2005 Sharm e-Sheikh understandings
( http://tinyurl.com/6adks ).
They agreed to immediately resume the joint committees, as they were
determined prior to Sharm, under the authority of the Palestinian Authority
President in order to deal with current issues: Maintaining the cessation of
violence, advancing the future transfer of security responsibility over the
Palestinian areas, and implementation of the arrangements that were
previously agreed upon regarding Palestinian fugitives and deportees.
It was also decided to resume the work of the quadripartite security
committee between Israel, the PA (via the Presidential Guard), Egypt and the
US, including the deployment of the Presidential Guard along the
Philadelphia Corridor and in the northern Gaza Strip.
Prime Minister Olmert told PA President Abbas that he understood his and
Palestinian society's sensitivity on the prisoner issue and said that he
would be prepared to release to the PA President after the release of Gilad
Shalit. It was also decided to resume the work of the joint community
responsible for formulating new arrangements and parameters on the release
of Palestinian prisoners. This committee will begin work immediately and
will submit its conclusions to the two leaders as soon as possible.
Prime Minister Olmert said that Israel would take immediate and concrete
steps in order to ease humanitarian conditions for the Palestinian people.
To this end, the Prime Minister decided to transfer a portion of the
Palestinian tax funds being held by Israel in order to enable supplies for -
and assist in the current operations of - several Palestinian hospitals and
in order to deal with the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian population.
It was agreed that this arrangement would be expanded in the future to deal
with additional humanitarian needs. It was made clear that the funds that
would be unfrozen would not be transferred to the PA.
The two men also agreed to make a genuine effort to upgrade the crossings
between the Gaza Strip and Israel in order to facilitate better passage for
goods and people. To this end, it was decided to improve security checks at
these crossings in order to reach a target of 400 trucks a day between the
Gaza Strip and Israel and to promote the possibilities of trade between the
Gaza Strip, the west Bank and Israel. The two leaders said that they
intended to resume the work of the joint economic committee. Prime Minister
Olmert told PA President Abbas that in coordination with Defense Minister
Amir Peretz, he had instructed the IDF to remove several checkpoints and to
submit a plan for the removal of additional checkpoints in the West Bank in
order to facilitate easier passage for the Palestinian population that is
not engaged in terrorism.
IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis
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