Abbas: I received assurances from Israel, U.S. ahead of summit
Jordan's King to Abbas: Sharm summit must lead to peace talks; Egypt to FM: Israel must halt raids, fence construction.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday that he had received assurances from Washington and Jerusalem that Israel is ready to make progress at Monday's summit in Egypt, the official Jordanian news agency Petra reported.
Abbas was speaking after a closed-door meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah in Amman. Jordan will also be present at the summit, along with hosts Egypt.
When asked if Israel was ready to make any offers in Sharm, Abbas told Petra: "I received promises from American and Israeli sides."
"What's more important is to implement these promises on the ground," he said.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, however, sought to play down expectations ahead of the summit. "We have an interest in having this meeting, but I don't want anyone to think we're on the brink of a dramatic breakthrough," Olmert told his Cabinet, according to a meeting participant.
As part of gestures aimed at boosting Abbas, the government approved Sunday the partial transfer of Palestinian tax revenues to the PA.
Abdullah told Abbas that the summit must set the stage for renewed Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.
"The summit must be seized as an opportunity to formulate a clear timeline for a return to negotiations," Abdullah told Abbas in their closed-door meeting, according to a statement issued by the royal palace.
Monday's summit is aimed at boosting the Palestinian Authority chairman by showing he can move ahead with the peace process, despite the militant Hamas group's takeover of the Gaza Strip in a brutal rout of his Fatah movement earlier this month.
The infighting has left the Palestinians with two governments - Abbas' emergency government in the West Bank, and the Hamas rulers in Gaza.
Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia have said the West Bank-based cabinet formed by Abbas following Gaza's takeover is the sole legitimate Palestinian government.
Earlier Sunday, Egypt urged Israel to halt West Bank raids as well as construction of the separation fence, as a further measure to boost Abbas.
In advance of the Monday talks, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit phoned Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and called on Israel to take a series of steps aimed at strengthening Abbas.
Aboul Gheit asked Israel to "act towards the Palestinian Authority in a way that achieves calm and creates the atmosphere for resuming the peace process," according to a ministry statement.
"This requires halting settlement operations, ending construction of the separation wall, stopping raids on cities and removing the checkpoints," he said.
Egypt has condemned Hamas for taking control of Gaza earlier this month, saying the Islamists staged a coup against the legitimate Palestinian authorities.
But Aboul Gheit told Livni that Israel must let food into Gaza, along with water and electricity.
"Punishing the Palestinian people cannot be permitted under any circumstances," Aboul Gheit said, according to the ministry statement.
Israel has said it will allow only humanitarian and basic supplies into the Hamas-controlled strip.
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