VIDEO - Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Vice Premier Shimon Peres met Sunday with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas during the World Economic Forum held in Sharm al-Sheikh.
During the meeting, which lasted only half an hour, Livni informed Abbas on the economic aid in medicines and equipment worth NIS 50 million (USD 11 million) Israel will transfer to the Palestinian Authority, shortly after it was approved by the government.
Abbas and Livni (Photo: AP)
It was the first meeting between the Palestinian Authority Chairman and senior Israeli officials since Hamas rose to power and became the leading force in the Palestinian government.
At the end of the meeting, Minister Livni made it clear the Israeli government has no plan to cut its ties with Abbas and that Israel clearly distinguishes between the Hamas-led government and the PA.
The general feeling conveyed by the Palestinian delegation members before the meeting with the Israeli side was that there was no one to talk to about the really important things.
The delegation members said that if Livni and Peres only spoke to Abbas about financial matters and relieving the burden from the humanitarian aspect, without referring to diplomatic issues, they see it as a failure.
Senior PLO official Nabil Shaath, who accompanied Abbas to Sharom, said Sunday morning that all the diplomatic issues must be discussed, with the Palestinian side stressing its objection to unilateral moves and the need to talk to Israel.
Shaath said that the closure and the siege on the Palestinians were a crime and that every effort must be exerted to remove it.
"There aren't even any pens or papers to write on in the (Gaza) Strip," he said.
In the meantime, the Palestinians said that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert continues to present a large question mark from their point of view.
"The signals we receive from him are only on the unilateral issues and not beyond that, so we still have not formed an opinion about him," members of the delegation said, adding that they were happy to meet Peres.
However, they said, the question is what weight does he carry today in the Israeli leadership.
The Israeli delegation also includes Finance Minister Abraham Hirchson, Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog and Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer. Later Sunday, the delegation is also expected to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
The delegation arrived from the airport to the congress center, accompanied by a long convoy of security guards, not before its members were given strict security orders. The road from the airport to the congress center was decorated with flags of the countries taking part in the congress, including a small number of Israeli flags.
The Egyptians were well-prepared for the conference, building a huge media center serving hundreds of communications media from across the world and hundreds of businesspeople taking part in the discussions.
Apart from the host Mubarak and PA Chairman Abbas, other Arab leaders are also participating in the conference, including Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and Malaysian Prime Minister Ahmad Abdullah Badawi. A large number of ministers from the Arab world have also arrived in Sharm and are expected to hold several meetings with their Israeli counterparts.