While the Israeli government will continue to boycott Hamas, the cabinet voted today to support the emergency Palestinian government appointed by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas last week by transerring half a billion dollars in frozen tax revenues.
“We must try to make the most of recent developments in the Palestinian Authority. This is an opportunity for the (peace) process,” Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said.
Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman was opposed to the measure. He told Army Radio that the new Fatah-led government has "no intention...of arresting a single terror operative.”
“Why should we believe all these lies? We have years of experience with Abu Mazen,” Lieberman said, referring to Abbas. “Other than pronouncements, we haven’t seen anything from him.”
Olmert however said the process of accepting the new Palestinian government begins tomorrow at a four-way summit in the Sinai resort town of Sharm el-Sheik, where Israel will present to Abbas “our expectations and demands on fighting terror.”
The summit is meant to show that Abbas is still the recognized Palestinian leader despite Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip. The coup left the Palestinians a split government: Fatah running the West Bank, and Hamas ruling Gaza.
Abbas visited Jordan's King Abdullah II prior to the summit, where they will they will hold rare face-to-face talks with Olmert and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
“The summit must be seized as an opportunity to formulate a clear timeline for a return to negotiations,” said Abdullah, according to a palace statement.