PM: Abbas must act, or all hope lost

PMO official says Palestinian prisoners won't be released before Shalit.

October 19, 2006 23:37
1 minute read.
PM: Abbas must act, or all hope lost

abbas pondering 298.88. (photo credit: AP)

The moment of truth with the Palestinians is fast approaching, and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas will have to "take action" or "all shreds of hope will be lost," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Thursday night on his way back from Russia. "The problem with the Palestinians is reaching a critical point," Olmert said. "Either Abbas will take courageous steps, or all shreds of hope will be lost." Abbas, Olmert said, must "put his house in order." He said that there have been countless contacts between his office and Abbas's. A senior official in Olmert's office said that Abbas wants Israel to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners before the release of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, something Israel will not do. Referring to both the Palestinian and Iranian issues, Olmert essentially said that he is not opposed to compromise, but at a certain point there comes a time when there is a need to fish or cut bait. He said that even the Qataris, whose foreign minister, he said, was quite far from Israel's position, had come to the conclusion during the attempts to get Hamas to change its policies that they are "cheats and liars." Regarding the Iranian nuclear threat, Olmert said that "time does not stand still, and it may be necessary to take steps in the future." As was the case when he made similar statements over the last few days, it was not clear whether he was referring to military action or sanctions. Olmert, in an apparent reference to sanctions, said that he left Russia with the feeling that they are committed to acting on this issue "in a significant manner." He said that the Russian position on the issue was similar to that of the Americans, and that Russia, which views itself as a superpower and has the responsibility to act as a superpower, does not feel the need to take a position that is opposed to the American one. Olmert said that the differences between Israel and Russia on this matter were narrowed significantly and are now in the realm of which tactile steps to take. Olmert also indicated that he would be willing to bring Meretz into the coalition along with Avigdor Lieberman's Israel Beiteinu party on the condition that they accept the coalition guideline.

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