Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas decided Sunday to hold their next meeting in the West Bank, an Abbas aide said. "They have agreed to hold their next meeting in Jericho," said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, according to the AP.
Erekat said that the Israeli prime minister promised he would extend working hours of the Karni commercial crossing in eastern Gaza Strip. The Palestinian official told reporters that President Abbas emphasized the need that Israel eases restrictions on Palestinian movement and removing roadblocks in the West Bank.
The Palestinian official also pointed out that Abbas and Olmert discussed the release of captured Israeli corporal Gil’ad Shalit.
The negotiator conveyed that both leaders agreed to exploring a ‘political horizon’, saying that meetings between President Abbas and Israeli PM should not be dealt with as ‘public relations’. "The president has presented the Arab peace initiative, endorsed last month by the Arab countries, to PM Olmert, as a basis for possible peace, a peace that can not be achieved unless the occupation comes to an end," Erekat maintained.
In initial Palestinian reaction to the Abbas-Olmert meeting, deputy Palestinian Prime Minister, Azzam Al-Ahmad, voiced disappointment over the meeting’s results.
Speaking to Aljazeera TV Arabic channel, Al-Ahmad said “if such meetings remain the same , then there will be no need for them”. Al-Ahmad believed that what the Palestinians should do is to rearrange their own agenda in coordination with the Arab countries.