New Palestine government brings hope for peace talks: Olmert

By Xinhua

New York : Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says the new Palestinian government has rekindled hopes for the renewal of peace talks.

Support TwoCircles

Speaking at a conference of presidents of major Jewish organisations here Sunday, Olmert said his country would be a "genuine partner" of the new Palestinian government and would consider releasing hundreds of millions of dollars in frozen Palestinian tax funds.

Olmert said Israel could ease travel restrictions on the West Bank and release Palestinian tax receipts frozen after the Hamas-led government took power last year.

The Israeli premier also said he would be willing to hold new talks with Abbas to discuss peace moves and other issues disrupted by the recent Palestinian infighting.

Olmert met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon earlier Sunday, and is expected to meet with President George W. Bush Tuesday in Washington.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dissolved the Fatah-Hamas coalition government after Hamas militants seized control of the Gaza Strip. He then appointed Salam Fayyad, a Western-backed economist, to form a new emergency government and announced that Hamas and its affiliated groups were "outlawed".

The US has also responded positively to the change in Palestinian politics, authorising its consul in Jerusalem to spread the word that America would lift an embargo on direct assistance to the Palestinians.

The quartet of Middle East peace mediators – the US, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations – Saturday voiced strong support for Abbas, saying it understands the necessity and legitimacy of his decisions.