Abbas stops talks with Hamas, opens channels with Israel

Nazareth – After announcing that talks on unity government with Hamas Movement had failed, PA chief Mahmoud Abbas met with two Israeli emissaries sent by Israel’s premier Ehud Olmert to pave the way for a summit between the two leaders, the Hebrew Haaretz newspaper revealed.

In its Tuesday edition, the Hebrew paper unveiled that Olmert’s two men Yoram Turbowicz, the head of Olmert’s bureau, and Shalom Turjeman, the political advisor of Olmert, met Sunday with Abbas and his close associates in secret sessions in Ramallah city.

The paper furthermore quoted Palestinian sources as affirming that the two envoys were gauging Abbas’ intentions, his next steps after aborting unity talks with Hamas, and contents of his anticipated speech to the Palestinian people.

Abbas, according to the paper, was also attempting to clear Israel’s stand on allowing 2,000 armed loyalists of Abbas from the Jordan-based Badr force to be deployed in the Gaza Strip.

According to the report, a telephone call between Abbas and Olmert took place during the meeting, in which Abbas asked Olmert to release jailed Fatah leader Marwan Al-Barghouthi independently and outside the framework of any possible prisoners swap deal with Hamas. But Olmert replied that he could do so only if captured IOF serviceman Gilad Shalit is freed by his captors.

The meeting was described by Abbas’ retinue as “very positive” and that they received “positive” signals from the Israeli side.

The two sides, the paper noted, discussed preparations for the anticipated visit of the US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice to the region and the expected Abbas-Olmert summit that hasn’t been scheduled yet.

Fatah faction and PA chief Abbas had never complained of Israeli delays and reneging on promises and agreements over the past 13 years. But they swiftly declared that talks with Hamas reached dead-end after five weeks of talks, many local observers charged.



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