Abbas to meet with Mubarak, Abdullah

PA sources tell 'Post' tax money will go to pay PA gov't workers' salaries.

olmert abbas close 298.8 (photo credit: AP [file])
olmert abbas close 298.8
(photo credit: AP [file])
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to travel Monday to Jordan and Egypt to brief King Abdullah and President Hosni Mubarak on the results of his talks with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, PA officials here said. Meanwhile, sources in Abbas's office told The Jerusalem Post that most of the money that will be received from tax and tariff revenues held by Israel will go to paying the salaries of tens of thousands of PA civil servants. Olmert agreed at the summit to transfer $100m. to Abbas's office to boost his standing in the midst of his ongoing conflict with Hamas. "We have many civil servants and members of the security forces who haven't received their full salaries for months," said one source. "The money will also be used to support Fatah cadres in the West Bank and Gaza Strip." Abbas's talks in Amman will focus on the deployment of the PLO's Jordan-based Bader Force in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the officials said, pointing out that Olmert agreed during the Saturday night meeting with Abbas to allow the 2,000-strong force to enter the Palestinian territories. Abbas's discussions with President Mubarak will deal with Egypt's mediation efforts between Abbas's Fatah party and Hamas, the case of kidnapped Cpl. Gilad Shalit, the transfer of weapons from Cairo to the PA security forces and security arrangements along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, the officials added. Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat, who participated in the Olmert-Abbas talks, said the two sides agreed to revive the understandings that were reached at a summit between Abbas and former prime minister Ariel Sharon in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm e-Sheikh in 2005. "The two sides agreed to reactivate the joint committees that were agreed upon at the Sharm e-Sheikh summit," Erekat said. "These committees were formed to discuss the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, the status of Palestinian gunmen wanted by Israel, the case of Palestinian gunmen who were deported to the Gaza Strip and Europe after they were holed up inside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and joint economic issues." Noting that the committees would start working immediately, Erekat said the PA would on Monday hand Israel a partial list of Palestinian prisoners that it wants released as part of a comprehensive deal that would eventually lead to the release of Gilad Shalit. With regards to Palestinian gunmen wanted by Israel for their role in terror activities, Erekat said that Israel promised to stop pursuing or killing them. In return, the PA promised to make sure that the wanted men would return to "normal life." The two sides also agreed to consolidate the current cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and to work toward extending it to the West Bank. "In addition, Olmert promised to start removing checkpoints in the West Bank within days and to facilitate the movement of Palestinians there," he said. According to Erekat, Olmert and Abbas also agreed that both sides would refrain from unilateral measures that would prejudice the final-status issues, such as Jerusalem and settlement expansion. The Olmert-Abbas summit drew mixed reviews from many Palestinians. While some described it as positive, others said the results were disappointing. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other radical groups strongly criticized Abbas for agreeing to meet with Olmert. "The Abbas-Olmert meeting constitutes a positive development toward reviving the peace process," said Tawfik Abu Khoussa, a Fatah spokesman in the Gaza Strip. "The meeting was aimed at alleviating the suffering of the Palestinians and solving the issues of the Palestinian prisoners and the frozen revenues." Abu Khoussa said the Palestinians had no other choice but to hold such meetings with Israeli leaders. "There is no other way to solve our problems with Israel," he said. Independent legislator Mustafa Barghouti expressed disappointment with the outcome of the summit. "The meeting did not achieve tangible results regarding the release of the 11,000 prisoners," he said. "And with regards to the lifting of the checkpoints and other issues, all we got so far were promises."