Sharon now unwilling to meet Abbas

PM tells visiting Russian FM he will not meet Abbas in current environment.

peres and Lavrov 298 ap (photo credit: AP)
peres and Lavrov 298 ap
(photo credit: AP)
A twice-postponed summit between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was put on indefinite hold Thursday, with Sharon telling visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov he will not meet Abbas in the current environment. "The Palestinians are not taking any tangible steps to either fight terror or dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, and as a result we are unable to move forward," Sharon told Lavrov. "If the PA doesn't take serious and real action against terrorism there will not be any diplomatic progress, and that would be a shame. In this situation I cannot meet Abu Mazen (Abbas), and the Palestinians are losing their national dreams due to this situation." Lavrov met Sharon on the second day of his two-day trip to the region; he met Abbas on Wednesday. Sharon told Lavrov that Israel was not satisfied with Abbas' condemnation of the terror attack in Hadera. "This does not help us," he said. Before the meeting, Sharon said that since the PA has shown that it was not serious about combating terrorism, "we decided and agreed that we will conduct the struggle against terrorism in all its aspects. We are not prepared in any way to countenance continued terrorism; therefore, our activity will be wide-ranging and continuous until we have brought about the cessation of terrorism." While Sharon said that Abbas has done nothing to fight terrorism, Lavrov said that at his meeting with Abbas in Ramallah Wednesday the Palestinian leader condemned the Hadera attack and supported a continuation of the struggle against terrorism. "He is ready for concrete steps and we believe that he must continue to be supported in every way possible, politically and materially," Lavrov said. "This is not an easy process and we must continue it." Lavrov said he was convinced that Abbas was serious about taking action against terrorism, "and that he is waiting for his security forces to strengthen." Before meeting Sharon, Lavrov met Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres and - according to Peres' office - said that he saw some of the settlements when he drove to Ramallah, and that not only do they not have any "security logic," but "they also give the Palestinians reason to think that Israel does not want peace." Peres replied that Israel does not have a policy of expanding the settlements, and that it has committed itself to dismantling the unauthorized settlement outposts and moving forward along the road map. At the same time, he said, this could only occur if Abbas would wage a "determined war" against the "armed organizations." Lavrov also told Peres that Abbas feels he can succeed in turning Hamas into a legitimate political force. Lavrov, according to Israeli officials, said that this seemed "more logical" than declaring the organization illegal and preventing it from taking part in the upcoming elections - which is Israel's position. Lavrov also said Russia was afraid that regime change in Syria could lead to the strengthening there of Islamic extremists. He also said that the Lebanese government needed time to turn Hizbullah into a solely political organization.