The Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh is to host talks, later today, between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, their first meeting since Hamas took control of Gaza. President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and King Abdullah of Jordan will also attend. In a pre-summit move Israel has agreed to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars to Abbas’s new government.
It is a decision Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh dubbed “financial bribery” and “political blackmail” aimed at “deepening the crisis and divisions” between Fatah and Hamas.
The money is a part of the Palestinian tax revenues withheld by Israel since Hamas won elections in 2006. It is part of an Israeli plan to isolate Hamas economically and diplomatically in the Gaza Strip. An Israeli spokesperson added that the talks are intended to strengthen the moderates and promote Israeli-Palestinian ties.
Olmert has also spoken of laying the groundwork for resuming talks with Abbas on Palestinian statehood, but has stopped short of accepting Fatah calls for immediate negotiations on a land-for-peace-accord.