Olmert to tell Mubarak he's serious about trying again with Abbas

Today's Sharm summit overshadowed by IDF's shooting of two Egyptian infiltrators.

By
June 4, 2006 00:15
2 minute read.

 
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Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's first meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Sunday in Sharm e-Sheikh will be "less ceremonial and celebratory" than initially expected, as a result of Friday's incident where IDF soldiers killed two Egyptian infiltrators, Israeli diplomatic officials said Saturday night. According to these officials, this issue - as well as the need for greater Israeli-Egyptian security coordination on the border - is now expected to take up a significant part of the discussions between the two. "This incident indicates the need to tighten and upgrade coordination along the border," one senior source in the Prime Minister's Office said. The infiltrators were identified by the Egyptians as policemen belonging to a special security unit guarding the international border in Sinai. Regarding the Palestinians, Olmert - according to the official - is going to Sharm with a message that he is serious about negotiating with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas along the lines of the road map. He is expected to tell Mubarak, however, that Israel is not willing to talk to Abbas now about a final-status solution, and jump over the initial stages of the road map, which calls for an end to violence and dismantling the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure. Israel is concerned that this is the direction Abbas wants to lead the talks. Abbas, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Information, is scheduled to meet Mubarak on Monday. Olmert is expected to update Mubarak on his recent meeting with US President George W. Bush, as well to present him first hand with the details of his "realignment" plan. Mubarak is expected to present Olmert with some ideas on how the diplomatic process can be advanced through various bilateral, rather than unilateral, steps. Egypt has made clear that it is very much opposed to any further unilateral Israeli measures. This will be the first meeting between Mubarak and an Israeli prime minister since February 2005, when Mubarak met Ariel Sharon at a summit in Sharm that also included Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah. Mubarak has, however, spoken on the phone numerous times with Olmert since he took over from Sharon in January. Olmert rejected an Egyptian proposal for a three-way summit that would have included Olmert, Mubarak and Abbas. Israeli diplomatic officials said Jerusalem was concerned that this type of meeting would turn into a show of support for Abbas without the Palestinian leader having to show that he was willing to carry out any of the obligations he committed himself to under the road map. "We didn't want to get into a position where Abbas would be able to hide behind Mubarak," one official said. The official said that Olmert would discuss with Mubarak the need for Egypt to pressure the Hamas government to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept previous agreements. Mubarak is expected to call on Israel to lift what the Egyptians are calling the "siege on the Palestinian people," and to transfer to the PA the tax revenues Israel collects on the PA's behalf. Olmert will reiterate Israel's position that it is not trying to punish the Palestinian people, and that in addition to its decision last month to transfer medicines and medical equipment to Gaza to forestall a humanitarian crisis there, Israel is exploring other ways it can channel aid to the Palestinians but bypass the Hamas government. Olmert and Mubarak are scheduled to hold a joint press conference after their late afternoon meeting.

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