Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Israeli Prime Minister,
Ehud Olmert, met on Saturday at Olmert’s residence in Jerusalem and
agreed that Israel would transfer $100 million of Tax revenue Israel
withheld since Hamas took office.
The funds would be transferred directly to Abbas thus bypassing the Hamas-led government.
The Abbas-Olmert meeting lasted for two hours, Israeli sources reported, Israel agreed to transfer the money for “humanitarian purposes”.
Chief Palestinian negotiator, Dr. Sa’eb Erekat, held a press conference following the Abbas-Olmert meeting adding that Israel also agreed to transfer additional 35 million to hospitals in East Jerusalem.
Erekat added that this meeting is considered “the first step towards trust and cooperation” between Israel and the Palestinians, adding that more meetings are planned.
Erekat also said that Abbas and Olmert are committed to “a fruitful peace process”.
Israeli sources reported that the transfer of tax money will be through a mechanism that would be implemented in order to ensure that the money would be used for purposes intended by Abbas, and to ensure that this money will not reach Hamas.
Israeli online daily Haaretz reported that Israel also agreed to remove some of the checkpoints in the West Bank, and to ease the restrictions on the Karni commercial crossing in the Gaza Strip in order to facilitate the entry of good into the Gaza Strip.
Haaretz added that Olmert promised to meet a quota of 400 trucks moving through the main cargo crossing between Gaza and Israel.
Yet, the meeting between the two leaders did not achieve any progress regarding a prisoner-swap deal that would see the release of the captured Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit in exchange of releasing Palestinian detainees.
Haaretz reported that Israel agreed in principle to transfer weapons to the security forces loyal to Abbas as well as allowing the entry of Bader forces into the Palestinian territories.
The Bader forces, part of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) are stationed in Jordan.
Meanwhile, Olmert threatened that Israel “will have no restraint” if the firing of homemade shells into Israel resumes.
Yet, Olmert insisted that the cease-fire does not include the West Bank and that it will only be applied there if the factions show ability to uphold the Gaza truce.
The meeting ended without any Israeli promises to release Palestinian detainees detained by Israel; no date was set for another meeting.