PA: Olmert promised more prisoner releases

Palestinians satisfied with Abbas-Olmert talks.

abbas Olmert jericho 224 (photo credit: AP [file])
abbas Olmert jericho 224
(photo credit: AP [file])
The Palestinians expressed satisfaction with the results of the Olmert-Abbas summit on Monday, saying the talks focused on political issues related to the peace process and the establishment of a Palestinian state. According to the Palestinians, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised to release more security prisoners, remove IDF checkpoints in the West Bank and allow the return of Palestinian gunmen who were deported to the Gaza Strip and Europe after barricading themselves inside the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem five years ago. The Palestinians also expressed satisfaction with Olmert's agreement to revive the work of a joint security committee. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to travel to Cairo Tuesday to brief President Hosni Mubarak on the outcome of his talks with Olmert, a senior PA official in Ramallah said. He said Abbas and Mubarak will also discuss the Middle East peace conference that was called by US President George W. Bush for later this year. Describing the talks as "positive," PA negotiator Saeb Erekat said Olmert and Abbas were planning to hold three more meetings before the planned peace conference. Erekat said Abbas made it clear during the meeting that only the PLO and the PA government headed by Salaam Fayad were authorized to conduct political negotiations with Israel. "President Abbas stressed during the meeting that he wanted to work toward a comprehensive solution that would lead to full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories that were occupied in 1967," he said. "All the Arab parties want peace, but not at any price. The price for such peace is a full Israeli withdrawal from all the occupied Arab territories." Erekat said Abbas also made it clear that the Palestinians did not want to turn the planned peace conference into a photo-op. "We want a mechanism and timetable for implementing the road map, the Arab peace initiative and all United Nations resolutions concerning the Israeli-Arab conflict," he said. "There is no room for new initiatives. Our ultimate goal is to see an end to the Israeli occupation." Erekat said the two sides also agreed to discuss the status of some 55,000 Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip without residence documents.