Photo: AP
Palestinian President Abbas
Photo: AP
Prime Minister Olmert
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Abbas wishes Olmert a happy holiday

Palestinian president calls prime minister, offers his wishes for Passover holiday to Israeli citizens. Earlier, Abbas tells German Chancellor Merkel time has come to end economic embargo of Palestinian government

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas telephoned Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday afternoon and wished him a happy Passover. Olmert thanked Abbas.


It should be noted that the holiday phone call between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders has become a tradition. Similar phone calls are also held on the Jewish New Year and on Muslim and Christian holidays.


The phone call between Olmert and Abbas took place shortly after the Palestinian president ended a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is visiting the region.


During the meeting, Abbas told Merkel that the time had come to end a year-old economic embargo of the Palestinian government.


"There is no justification to maintain it (the embargo) at all ... Otherwise it will be understood that this is a deliberate siege against the Palestinian people," Abbas said after meeting Merkel in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Abbas and Merkel in Ramallah (Photo: AP)


During her visit, Merkel did not meet any ministers from the Palestinian unity government. The government, led by Hamas Islamists, includes members of Abbas' Fatah faction and independents.


Arab leaders have revived a five-year-old peace plan that offers Israel normal ties with Arab countries in return for full withdrawal from land seized in a 1967 Middle East war, creation of a Palestinian state and a "just solution" for Palestinians displaced in 1948 with Israel's creation.


Merkel welcomed the results of the summit and said Europe should build on it and revive diplomatic efforts by the Quartet of Middle East power brokers, which is comprised of the European Union, the United States, the United Nations and Russia.


"We all have the feeling that things are moving. We have a window of opportunity," Merkel said earlier at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where she was given an honorary doctorate. "There is a major chance here which we must grasp."


After her meeting with Prime Minister Olmert on Sunday morning, Merkel said that Germany and the European Union were committed to the safety of Israel's citizens,


The German leader said that endorsing the two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict necessitates recognition of Israel's right to exist, and renouncing violence.


Olmert, on his part, lauded Merkel for her efforts on the issue of the kidnapped soldiers' release and for her contribution to the strengthening of ties between Israel and Germany.


The prime minister said that Israel was at an important junction of making decisions regarding its future, and that the strategic partnership with Germany would play a crucial role in the efforts to promote peace in the region.  


Reuters contributed to the report


פרסום ראשון: 04.01.07, 19:21
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