Hamas describes Olmert promises to Abbas as ”trickery”
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed Saturday during a meeting with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to a series of steps, including the transfer of $100 million in frozen taxes collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. The funds will be transferred directly to Abbas, Israeli sources reported. In addition, Israel will transfer some $7.25 million to Palestinian-run hospitals in Jerusalem, Erekat said.
Saeb Erekat, a close aide to Abbas, confirmed during a press conference Saturday night in Ramallah that Israel had agreed to transfer the funds for humanitarian purposes.
The meeting is a "first step toward rebuilding mutual trust and fruitful cooperation," Olmert's office said in a statement. More meetings are planned, confirmed Erekat.
Speaking at a news conference, Erekat stated the leaders had also committed themselves to reviving a "meaningful" peace process.
Olmert also agreed to remove several West Bank checkpoints.
According to the AP, the two leaders failed to reach agreement on a key issue - a prisoner swap involving captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit - but decided to form a committee to study it further. According to Erekat, Abbas asked Olmert to release members of the Palestinian Legislative Council from Hamas abducted by Israel.
On his part, Ghazi Hamad, a spokesman for the Hamas-led government, criticized Israel's "trickery" in the meeting. "Israel did not give any clear answers to many important issues, whether taxes or prisoners," he said. Speaking to Israel's Army Radio, Hamad said "Olmert ignores the main problem which is the occupation."
Hamad also said that Israel holds US$700 million which belongs to the Palestinian people.