Abbas: Unity gov't will stop sanctions

PA chairman claims US guaranteed that new gov't declaration will halt IDF ops.

abbas in cairo 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
abbas in cairo 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday that he had received clear assurances from the United States that financial sanctions would be lifted and the IDF action would cease once a Palestinian unity government was announced. In an interview with the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, Abbas added that the Egyptians also confirmed that a PA unity government would bring an end to the sanctions. Echoing the words of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Abbas expressed his willingness to meet with his Israeli counterpart at "any time and any place," adding that such a meeting was currently being planned. On Wednesday evening, in a speech broadcast on Palestinian TV, Abbas called on Israel to resume negotiations toward a final peace settlement, insisting on a full Israeli pullout from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. Abbas did not refer either to Wednesday's deadly rocket attack on Sderot or to Israeli military operations in his speech. Abbas appealed to Israel, "Don't waste the chance of peace." He said a solution depends on "full Israeli withdrawal from the Arab and Palestinian lands occupied in 1967," referring to the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, as well as a solution for Palestinian refugees. Israel pulled out of Gaza unilaterally last year. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his aides were not available for comment on Abbas' speech. Abbas said the international community must play a key role in the negotiating process, through "mediation, arbitration, and offering guarantees." Abbas spoke after returning from Cairo, where he met international mediators to discuss efforts to form a joint coalition government with Hamas as a way to bring an end to Western aid sanctions that have bankrupted the Palestinian government. Hamas refuses to recognize Israel, and Hamas leaders said in recent days that they would not accept a Jewish state even if Israel withdraws from the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem.