Photo: AP
Palestinian gunmen in Gaza
Photo: AP

Israel approves Egyptian arms shipment to Fatah

PM Olmert heeds calls by President Mahmoud Abbas to allow Egypt to transfer arms to Fatah in attempt to counter Hamas' armament drive

Two thousand rifles were transferred from Egypt to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party, a move approved by Israel in an attempt to boost moderates in the Palestinian Authority.


The rifles, as well as 20,000 magazines were shipped in to the Gaza Strip through an unnamed border crossing.


Israel is concerned over Hamas' rising military power as the Islamic group continues to smuggle explosives and arms into Gaza from Egypt through underground tunnels.


On Wednesday Abbas called for a new chapter in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, expressing his readiness to discuss the thorniest of issues with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.


Abbas made the comments following a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo.


Following his meeting with Mubarak in Cairo, Abbas said serious talks behind closed doors are imperative, adding that the Quartet should participate as well.


“For some time now we’ve been considering the option of opening another channel of communication between us and the Israelis with the participation of one or all of the Quartet members (United States, Russia, European Union, United Nations) to discuss issues related to a permanent agreement,” he said.


Abbas said US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is scheduled to arrive in the region once again on January 13. The two met in Jericho in late November.


The Palestinian president arrived in Cairo on the heels of his meeting with Olmert in Jerusalem last Saturday.


The leaders agreed that Israel would release USD 100 million in frozen Palestinian tax funds, and also discussed Abbas’ request to permit the transfer of arms from Egypt and the transfer of forces from the Jordan-based Badr Brigade to the Palestinian Presidential Guard, this within the framework of the Dayton Plan.


פרסום ראשון: 12.28.06, 09:26
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