Knesset divided over Olmert-Abbas meeting

Beilin welcomes summit; Eitam: "Olmert granted a reward to the Palestinians while under fire."

olmert abbas close 298.8 (photo credit: AP [file])
olmert abbas close 298.8
(photo credit: AP [file])
Meretz leader Yossi Beilin welcomed the meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, saying its importance depended on whether it lead to diplomatic negotiations or only dealt with issues that could have been handled at a lower level. "If it turns out that the meeting is just for the sake of holding a meeting then it could increase frustration and not be worth it," Beilin said. Meretz faction chair Zehava Gal-On said she would only be satisfied if the meeting led to the end of the economic boycott of the PA government, the opening of the Gaza Strip crossings and increased dialogue. Shas's leader, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai, said he hoped the meeting would expedite the return of Cpl. Gilad Shalit. National Union MK Zvi Hendel called the meeting "perverse" and accused the prime minister of being willing to release thousands of murderers from jail in return for Shalit. National Union MK Effi Eitam said, "Olmert granted a reward to the Palestinians while under fire and thereby invited additional violence. As long as the cease-fire is not being kept and Gilad Shalit is not home, Olmert basically gave a prize to Abbas for not respecting agreements."