Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO
Abbas: Olmert is a serious partner
Palestinian president explains that despite disagreements ahead of US-sponsored Mideast peace conference, Israeli prime minister wants to reach an agreement. 'The Israelis have their vision and we have ours. Now it's important that we reach a joint vision,' he says
When we negotiate with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert we sense and see that he is serious in his intentions to reach an agreement, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview with the Kuwaiti daily al-Rai published Sunday.
"We disagree on various issues, particularly those related to the permanent agreement. The Israelis have their vision and we have ours. Now it's important that we reach a joint agreement," Abbas added.
The Israeli and Palestinian leaders met in Jerusalem on Friday and discussed the Israeli demand to stick to the Road Map route in any future agreement.
During Friday meeting between two leaders, Olmert promises that Israel will not cut off electricity supply to strategic Gaza facilities such as hospitals; Israeli PM stresses importance of adhering to Road Map
The Palestinian asked to advance the talks ahead of the permanent agreement without insisting on an implementation of the preconditions, but Olmert made it clear to Abbas that Israel would stick to the conditions.
During the interview, Abbas reiterated that talks were being held between Israel and the Hamas movement.
"I believe that the talks between Israel and Hamas are old news, rather than something new, whether directly or indirectly," he said.
"As for what we have recently heard about talks between Hamas and the Israelis, we are certain of that and we have evidence. We do not condemn these talks, but we do ask Hamas to have the courage to admit that this is taking place."
In the same breath, Abbas warned against another takeover attempt by Hamas in the West Bank, following its seizure of the Gaza Strip.
"We have information that Hamas will try and repeat its attempt from the Gaza Strip in the West Bank, but this is doomed to fail," he said.
The Palestinian leader added that external elements were assisting Hamas. "There are well-known international elements helping the movement, supporting it and not hiding their support," he added.
Meanwhile Sunday, the Saudi newspaper al-Watan reported that a three-way summit was expected to take place in Ankara in about two weeks between Abbas, President Shimon Peres and Turkish President Abdullah Gul.
According to the PLO's ambassador to Turkey, Nabil Maarouf, the three are expected to discuss Ankara's plan to build an industrial zone in Jenin or near Hebron.
Talking to reporters, Maarouf added that during his visit to Ankara, Abbas would discuss a series of issues including the talks with Israel and the preparations for the Annapolis peace conference, as well as the ties between Turkey and the Palestinian Authority.