Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will on Sunday bring for cabinet approval a proposal to release some six million dollars in frozen tax funds to the Palestinian Authority, Israel Radio reported on Thursday. The funds were stopped to prevent them from getting into the hands of Hamas. Jerusalem officials said that they hoped the money would help bring stability to the PA government of Prime Minister Salam Fayad.
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Meanwhile, Olmert is set to travel next week to Sharm e-Sheikh to meet with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Jordanian King Abdullah II, and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Monday in a four-way summit meant to discuss recent developments between Fatah and Hamas.
According to the report, the leaders will talk about ways to strengthen Fatah in the West Bank, as well as how to deal with Hamas in Gaza.
"The invitation came from President (Hosni) Mubarak of Egypt," Yasser Abed Rabbo, an aide to Abbas said.
He said the Palestinians demand concrete results from the gathering, and warned that if it ended without results, it would cause more harm than good. "We want the summit to remove the (economic) siege and the checkpoints that suffocate the life of the Palestinian people," he said.
According to Abed Rabbo, "Abbas would also seek a resumption of peace talks between Israel and the PA."
Construction and Housing Minister Meir Sheetrit, a member of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, told Army Radio that he does not expect the meeting to produce far-reaching results.
"Unfortunately, historically, meetings at Sharm e-Sheikh [are not meaningful], and therefore I am very skeptical," Sheetrit said. "I hope that this time will be different than in the past."
"Egypt must really act to stop arms smuggling into Gaza," Sheetrit continued. "They can do that if they want to."
Chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority Saeb Erekat said that a resumption of talks with Israel would "rein in Hamas," Israel Radio reported. Erekat said that if there would be no move towards ending the occupation and establishing a Palestinian state Hamas would succeed in instilling despair amongst Palestinians.