Abbas urges Olmert to alter course

The Palestinian president has called on Ehud Olmert, whose Kadima party won Israel's general elections on Tuesday, to negotiate with Palestinians and not opt for unilateral solutions if peace is to be given a chance.

    Abbas (R) in Khartoum for the Arab summit

    "The result [of the vote] was expected. But what is more important now is that Olmert changes his agenda and abandon his unilateral plans to fix the borders," Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday on the sidelines of an Arab summit in Sudan's capital.

    Olmert ran on a platform that advocated annexing the largest settlement blocs from the West Bank and unilaterally withdrawing from those beyond the separation wall Israel is building in the occupied territory.

    He also wants to fix the Jewish state's hitherto undefined borders by 2010.

    In separate comments made just before his departure from Khartoum, Abbas repeated his rejection of any unilateral Israeli actions. "We want negotiations and not to dictate unilateral solutions," he said.

     

    Unilateralism

     

    "The result [of the vote] was expected. But what is more important now is that Olmert changes his agenda and abandon his unilateral plans to fix the borders"

    Mahmoud Abbas, 
    Palestinian president

    Olmert's centrist Kadima party emerged the winner of Tuesday's election, with 28 of 120 seats, enough to form a ruling coalition in parliament.

     

    In declaring victory, the interim prime minister said he was ready for new peace talks and to make painful compromises such as uprooting some Jewish settlements in the West Bank and allowing Palestinians to have a state.

     

    He wants to dismantle dozens of small Jewish settlements, but annex the large settlement blocs - all of them built on Palestinian land occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

     

    Arab summit's refusal 

     

    Leaders meeting in Khartoum at the 18th annual Arab summit rejected Olmert's plans as they endorsed a resolution calling for the rejection of "Israeli measures  including ... fixing Israel's borders unilaterally in a way that fulfils its expansionist greed".

     

    "It is impossible to accept Israeli proposals that we have seen so far. Is there anything new the new Israeli government can come up with? Many Arabs don't think so, so the Arab world has to look at all the possibilities"

    Amr Moussa,
    Arab League secretary-general

    The resolution said that such actions by Israel "render  impossible the establishment of an independent and sovereign  Palestinian state".

     

    And Amr Moussa, the Arab League secretary-general, said: "It's not comprehensible leaving the issue of Jerusalem or accepting unilateral withdrawals according to Israeli whims. This will not work but will only lead to worsening matters more and more.

     

    "It is impossible to accept Israeli proposals that we have seen so far. Is there anything new the new Israeli government can come up with? Many Arabs don't think so, so the Arab world has to look at all the possibilities," he added.

     

    In Gaza City overnight, the incoming Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniya, whose Islamist Hamas government was overwhelmingly approved by parliament on Tuesday, said he too, opposed Olmert's plans.

    "We said from the beginning that any Israeli step that will impose facts on the ground or undermine Palestinian rights, such as creating so-called temporary borders, is rejected and unacceptable policy," Haniya added.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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