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Middle East
Abbas commends Olmert 'peace offer'
The Palestinian president praises the Israeli PMs proposals as "positive" in Amman.
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2006 03:16 GMT
Olmert, Abbas and Abdullah pose during a Nobel Laureates seminar to discuss global crises  in June. [Picture: GALLO/GETTY]

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has said that a peace initiative proposed by Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, was a "positive" step towards peacemaking.

 

His remarks came as Palestinian fighters fired a rocket at the southern Israeli town of Sderot, violating Sunday's fragile ceasefire agreement.

 

"We look at it positively, especially that Mr Olmert clearly referred to the Arab peace plan," said Abbas on Tuesday.

 

Olmert told Palestinians that he was prepared to grant them a state, release funds and free prisoners if they choose the path of peace, on Monday.

Following talks with Jordan's King Abdullah II in the Amman, Abbas said: "We consider the plan to be one of the most significant bases for a solution to the Palestinian issue presented by the Arabs."

 

"Future negotiations"

 

The Palestinian president referred to an Arab peace plan which stipulates Arab recognition of Israel in exchange for Israeli withdrawal from lands it seized after the 1967 war.

 

"... if Olmert's intentions are good, then we can build on this [his initiative] in order to put forward a plan for future negotiations"

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president

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Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt – the US' strongest allies in the Middle East – consider the plan the only viable solution to the lingering Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

 

Abbas said that "if Olmert's intentions are good, then we can build on this [initiative] in order to put forward a plan for future negotiations on all issues related to the Palestinian cause".

 

The Palestinian leader declined to give a specific answer when questioned over Israeli conditions for returning to the negotiating table, which include the release of an Israeli soldier held hostage by Hamas-linked fighters since June.

 

He said: "They [Israel] say we want this and that; it's important, but the content of the initiative is positive and we will respond to it positively in an official statement."

 

Abbas said that his meeting with King Abdullah focused on co-ordinating positions on all "the details that will be raised with president Bush and the American administration".

 

Rocket hits Israel

 

A cell of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which is linked to the Fatah party of President Abbas, claimed the latest rocket attack on Israel and said it targeted the Israeli town of Ashkelon.

  

It said the Al-Aqsa cell was not a party to the truce and would  retaliate "an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" to Israeli military operations in the West Bank.

 

"We identified a rocket being fired from the Beit Hanun area in northern Gaza and landing near Sderot," an Israeli army spokesman told AFP.  Medical sources said the rocket hit Sderot's cemetery, causing no  injuries or damage.

 

US-led talks

 

George Bush, the US president, will arrive in Jordan on Wednesday for two days of talks with Abdullah and Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister.

 

His discussions are expected to focus on the possible transfer of security responsibility to Iraqi forces and proposals to curb sectarian strife in Iraq, which has threatened to erupt into civil war.

 

Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, will be in Jordan at the same time as Bush to attend a Middle East democracy and development conference near the Dead Sea.

 

US and Arab officials initially said Rice may hold a separate meeting to revive Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, but the prospects for that remain unclear.

 

Saeb Erekat, a top Abbas aide, said that the Palestinian leader would meet Rice in the West Bank town of Jericho on Thursday.

 

Israeli officials said there were no plans for Rice to meet with Israeli leaders during her trip to the region.

Source:
Agencies
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