Four-way Summit on Palestinian issue starts in Egypt

By Xinhua

Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt : An eye-catching four-way summit was wrapped up at this Red Sea resort on Monday evening with participants taking steps towards the resumption of Mideast peace process.

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The summit brought together Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak,Jordanian King Abdullah II, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas andIsraeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert amid turmoil in the Palestinian territories after Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip on June14.  


Addressing the four-way summit, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appealed to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to start true and sincere peace negotiations and asked for a timetable for the talks.

"I invite you to start serious political negotiations according to an agreed agenda," Abbas said.

He added that the negotiations with Israel aim at the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalemas its capital and existing alongside Israel, urging Olmert not to pass up "this historic opportunity" to make peace with the Palestinians.

The Palestinian territories are in chaos after Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip by violence and Abbas, in response, sacked the Hamas-led unity government and formed an emergency government led by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Abbas said that the new government is committed to international legitimacy, the peace process, signed agreements with the Israeli side and the two-state solution.


Though Olmert didn't promise an immediate resumption of peace process, he said the steps he was taking aimed at leading to such negotiations.

He said the summit is likely to advance the political process between Israel and the Palestinians and between Israel and other countries in the Middle East, move the region towards a better future, and create hope for the peoples of the region. Olmert noted that he was optimistic over his meeting with Abbasahead of the summit to create a new hope for peace after Hamas' takeover of the Gaza Strip.

"An opportunity has been created to advance seriously the political process in the region," Olmert said, adding that "I do not intend to let this opportunity pass."

In addition, Olmert offered to release 250 Fatah members jailedin Israeli prisons as a goodwill gesture towards the Palestinians. "I will ask the cabinet to approve a proposal to free 250 Fatah prisoners who do not have blood on their hands after they sign acommitment not to return to violence," Olmert said. He explained that he did this because "all Palestinians know that those who are ready to maintain relations of peace and reconciliation with us will receive a hand extended in reconciliation."  


Besides the efforts to reactivate the Mideast peace process, the summit also focused on the pressing need to end the suffering of the Palestinian people.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak who called the summit said the four sides agreed on the need to support Palestinian legitimacy, and aid the Palestinian National Authority and President Mahmoud Abbas.

He underscored the necessity to contain the humanitarian implications of the latest development on the Palestinian people. Meanwhile, he also called for unifying the Palestinian ranks through dialogue and promoting an atmosphere to revive the Mideast peace process.

Jordanian King Abdullah II underscored the extreme need to back Palestinian legitimacy, lift blockade and freeze the Palestinian National Authority's money withheld by Israel in return for the Palestinian side's commitment to international agreements and conventions signed between the two sides.

He also expressed hope that the summit could serve a new opportunity to work out efforts to revive the stalled Mideast peace process.

Olmert, for his part, promised to continuously pass on the taxmonies which Israel collected on behalf of the Palestinian National Authority, adding that Israel will renew the security and economic cooperation with the new Palestinian government and improve freedom of movement of the Palestinian population in parts of the border area.

"I acceded to the request of Mahmoud Abbas to continue humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian population living in the Gaza Strip. We will continue to provide this population with electricity, water, medical services, food and medications, in order to prevent a humanitarian crisis," Olmert said.

The summit came as a timely event to provide opportunities to seek means to reactivate the peace process and a communicating channel for the Palestinian and Israeli leaders to sit down and back to negotiation table, Egyptian Presidential spokesman Suleiman Awad said, answering a question from Xinhua.