Photo: Reuters
Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Photo: Reuters
Olmert: Israel not interested in harming Abbas
Acting prime minister says continuation of cooperation between Israel, Abbas hinges on level of Hamas’ involvement in new government
Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday that Israel “is not interested in hurting Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas. He is the elected leader of the Palestinian Authority who was elected in transparent election by a sweeping majority of the Palestinian public.”


Olmert warned, however, that the continuation of cooperation between Israel and Abbas hinges on the level of Hamas’s involvement in

the new government.


“As long as he does not cooperate with Hamas, and as long as the Palestinian government is not led by Hamas, we will cooperate with the Palestinian Authority. Carefully, responsibly, yet with the intension of strengthening elements who recognize Israel’s right to exist without terror and within secure borders and we will not play into the hands of extremists,” Olmert told businessmen at the Israel-Europe trade conference at Tel Aviv’s Hilton Hotel.


Speaking of tax rebates and custom that Israel transfers to the Palestinian Authority each month, the acting prime minister said that "there are people who want to have a situation of continuous war, never-ending terror and to eliminate hopes for peace among Palestinians and Israelis. Taking these considerations into account we decided to transfer sums we collect on behalf of the Palestinian people to the Palestinian Authority – money that belongs to them.”


Olmert said that Israel has stopped the automatic transfer of the rebates to the Palestinian Authority each month. A decision on transferring the money to the Palestinians will depend on the government’s evaluation of the situation in the territories.


Alluding to Hamas, Olmert said Israel is interested in stable relations with the Palestinians and “will not play into the hands of those who want havoc in the region.”


“We will continue to fight terror and we are doing so on a daily basis. We will not relax and will not stop. In the north, the center and the south,” he said.


Speaking of talks with settlers Olmert said, “We face a difficult argument. It did not start today. It has been going on for a while. It is difficult and painful and I believe it is impossible to blur the argument through slogans. But it is possible to speak with good intension, full openness, seriousness, out of a sense of responsibility among all parties concerned.”


“I intend to speak to all. I am not scared to speak to those who are fighting us. I will certainly speak to those who are an integral part of Israeli society,” he added.


Speaking of the setters, Olmert said “they have greatly contributed to Israel even if I disagree with them. I estimate they are wrong and suspect they are deceitful. I will speak to everyone,” he said.



Speaking of trade relations with European countries, Olmert said that “Europe is Israel’s most important trade partner. Trade between Israel and Europe tops USD 30 billion a year.”


Olmert added that “Israel purchases more goods from Europe than any other Middle Eastern country.”


First published: 06.02.06, 11:10
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