[Freemanlist2] Dr. Aaron Lerner comments - Abbas to raise final status issues in talks with Olmert

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Wed Apr 11 10:10:10 CDT 2007


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[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA: "Olmert aides have said he will only talk to Abbas 
about security and humanitarian issues, as well as a general political 
horizon, which they did not define. They said he could, however, start 
addressing final status issues once there is no more Palestinian rocket fire 
into Israel from Gaza and Hamas-allied militants release Shalit."

"First, they will discuss immediate concerns, like movement and access, 
management of the passages, and preventing arms smuggling and rocket fire by 
terrorists in Gaza. On this trip, however, it became clear to all of us that 
establishing clear benchmarks to measure progress will help us move forward. 
So this is one immediate task that the parties will undertake with the 
assistance of General Keith Dayton."
Secretary Condoleezza Rice remarks to the press - Jerusalem March 27, 2007

Question:  Does the Olmert team have a long enough attention span to recall 
that many ages ago - at the end of March - Secretary Rice mentioned the 
"immediate task" of setting benchmarks for measuring progress in Palestinian 
compliance?  On the one hand the remark that PM Olmert will only talk to 
Abbas about security and humanitarian issues indicates that they may still 
remember it.  On the other hand, in the spirit of the "security hiatus" at 
seems that as far as the Olmert's team is concerned, the Palestinians can 
smuggle weapons, assemble rockets, build military positions and prepare 
illegal armies to their heart's content as long as they don't fire rockets - 
for the time being.

Here is the difference between the US team and the Olmert team:  ask the 
same question a thousand times and the US team responds with the same sound 
bytes - the same policy formulations - time and again.  Ask the Olmert team 
and each time they wing it.  One time they mention rockets.  Another time 
smuggling and every now and then they even get around to mentioning the 
growing "terror infrastructure".

The funny thing about this is that the Olmert team isn't alien to the 
concept of the sound byte and the prepared sheet with responses to key 
questions.  But for some reason when it comes to Palestinian-Israeli 
relations it is if they don't want to be tied down.]
====

Abbas to raise final status issues in talks with Olmert
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent and AP  11 April 2007
www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/847275.html

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert 
will start their twice-monthly meetings next week, a Palestinian official 
said yesterday. In an interview to the Al-Arabya television channel, Abbas' 
political adviser Nimmer Hamad said that during the meeting, Abbas intends 
to raise the contested issues delaying agreement on a future permanent 
agreement between Israel and the PA.

According to Hamad, the issues include the question of Jerusalem, the 
borders of the future Palestinian state, the refugees and other problems 
affecting the lives of Palestinian citizens, among them humanitarian 
conditions.

The prime objective of the talks, according to Hamad, is to help build trust 
between the two parties. He added that the meetings were meant to reach a 
"political horizon". In conclusion, Hamad called on Israel "not to delay 
contacts toward the release of Gilad Shalit," the Israel Defense Forces 
soldier who was abducted last June.

Olmert aides have said he will only talk to Abbas about security and 
humanitarian issues, as well as a general political horizon, which they did 
not define. They said he could, however, start addressing final status 
issues once there is no more Palestinian rocket fire into Israel from Gaza 
and Hamas-allied militants release Shalit.

The bi-weekly meeting framework was devised by U.S. Secretary of State 
Condoleezza Rice during her visit to the area last month. However, Hamad's 
statements regarding the issues that will be discussed during the meetings 
run contrary to those Rice made during her visit.

Rice said the first talks between the two leaders would be on practical 
questions, not the final status issues that would define a final peace 
agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. She did not, however, rule 
out formal negotiations on those hard questions further down the line.

Meanwhile, Abbas and two cabinet ministers are embarking on a drive to win 
recognition and funding from Europe and the United States, ending a 
year-long boycott. Finance Minister Salam Fayyad is scheduled to meet EU 
officials in Brussels on Wednesday before traveling on to the U.S.

Fayyad told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Brussels that 
he would try to persuade EU officials to restore assistance to the 
Palestinians, frozen last year after Hamas took over the Cabinet after 
winning the elections.

"I will tell the officials that I already activated the single bank account 
of the Finance Ministry, which guarantees credibility and accountability, 
and we need their help, Fayyad said. "We have a monthly bill of $160 million 
(120 million euros), and on the other hand, what we have in hand, is just 
$20 million (15 million euros), which we collect on a monthly basis as 
internal taxes."

After Abbas meets Olmert, he and Foreign Minister Ziad Abu Amr plan to leave 
on a 10-day trip to Italy, Sweden and Switzerland. Their visit will be aimed 
at urging the Europeans to lift sanctions now that a new unity government is 
in place, replacing last month the Cabinet made up only of Hamas members and 
backers.
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