From the Jerusalem Post:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will present Sunday’s cabinet meeting with a series of measures designed to bolster the new Palestinian government headed by Salaam Fayad, which was sworn in last week.
Israel wants to send a message that there is a new positive approach from Jerusalem ahead of Monday’s four-way summit in Sharm e-Sheikh to be attended by Olmert, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan’s King Abdullah II.
The plan to be presented to the cabinet includes the reversal of the government decision to freeze the transfer of Palestinian tax revenues, which was instituted after Hamas came to power early last year.
The tax funds collected by Israel since the freeze are believed to amount to between $300 million and $400m. An official said the money would be transferred in stages after coordination with the Palestinians.
The cabinet will also discuss policy toward the new Palestinian government and ways Israel can strengthen Abbas following the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip two weeks ago.
Among the measures likely to be approved are removing more West Bank roadblocks and pressing ahead with peace talks if the Fayad government shows it is acting to prevent terrorist attacks.
A diplomatic official in Jerusalem stressed that there would be neither an additional transfer of weapons to the Palestinians nor a release of Palestinian security prisoners at this juncture.
Not a good sign when your diplomatic corps has to reassure everybody that, in fact, you won’t be giving your avowed enemies more weapons they can use to kill you.
The source stressed that although Jerusalem viewed the new Palestinian administration very positively it was still very early and the Fayad government still had to prove itself.
What a relief. For a second it looked as though Olmert’s government might be exercising poor judgement.
Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman is expected to be among the minority of ministers to vote against measures to boost Abbas.
Speaking over the weekend, Lieberman said: “Even if we give Abbas F-16s he still has no chance to succeed against Hamas. It has already been proven that giving weapons and money to Fatah goes toward strengthening terror and not toward fighting it.”
Interesting point. Too bad no one else has been able to put 2 and 2 together. Maybe they should skip the F-16s and hand over an a-bomb or two?
On Saturday an official in Jerusalem told Israel Radio that Egypt could do more to prevent the smuggling on its border with Israel if it wished to do so.
He also confirmed that the sky is blue, kittens and puppies are cute, and that, as a statesman, husband, and role model, Caligula left much to be desired.
Egypt and Jordan must prevent terror operatives from becoming more confident for they endanger stability not only in Israel, but in their countries as well, he added.
Yeah, but more in Israel, I’d bet.
Furthermore, Israel must make it clear that violence would not advance anything and that Abbas would be guaranteed cooperation by the international community to combat violence in the PA-controlled territories, the official said.
[Insert your own biting comment here.]