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Bibi encourages Olmert to meet Abbas

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    Sep. 28, 2006 22:24 | Updated Sep. 29, 2006 1:51 Bibi encourages Olmert to meet Abbas By GIL HOFFMAN
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 30, 2006
      Sep. 28, 2006 22:24 | Updated Sep. 29, 2006 1:51
      Bibi encourages Olmert to meet Abbas


      Prime Minister Ehud Olmert received a surprising endorsement on Thursday for
      his plan to meet in upcoming days with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud
      Abbas: Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu feels the same way.

      Olmert told Army Radio he would meet with Abbas regardless of whether
      kidnapped Cpl. Gilad Shalit was released, because Abbas supported releasing

      Netanyahu told the radio station that if he were prime minister, he would also
      meet with Abbas.

      "The dramatic change that has occurred is the development of an alliance of
      extremists against the alliance of moderates to which we belong," he said. "I
      would try to create a diplomatic process that would initiate an alliance
      between us and the Palestinians, but for this to happen, Hamas must fall."

      Netanyahu said the best way to strengthen Abbas was to bring about the
      downfall of the Hamas government in the PA. He said giving land to the
      Palestinians would strengthen Hamas and not Abbas.

      Sources close to Netanyahu later downplayed his remarks, saying the downfall
      of Hamas would have to come before negotiations with the Palestinians.
      Netanyahu's rivals in the Likud accused him of shifting leftward for political

      "Netanyahu's presentation of the terrorist Abu Mazen [Abbas] as a moderate is
      a repeat of his handshake with former Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser
      Arafat," the Likud's Manhigut Yehudit forum said. "That handshake destroyed
      the nationalist camp and gave legitimacy to the Oslo process. Now again, when
      everyone knows there is no partner and the survival of Israel is at stake,
      Netanyahu is giving a certificate of kashrut to the enemy."

      The Likud leader denied a report that he had asked businessman Arkady Gaydamak
      to form a new immigrant party that would compete with Israel Beiteinu.
      Netanyahu's associates said the report came from Israel Beiteinu chairman
      Avigdor Lieberman, who wanted to block Gaydamak's entry into politics by
      leaking the false report.

      Lieberman's spokeswoman responded that the Israel Beiteinu leader "did not
      have time to engage in such nonsense and media spin."

      Gaydamak toured the North on Thursday, where he was greeted by residents
      thankful to him for building them a tent city in the South during the war in
      Lebanon. One woman there said she believed Gaydamak would enter politics and
      would one day be prime minister.

      In an interview with Channel 10, Gaydamak called the reports of him entering
      politics "false rumors and insinuation."

      "I don't see why I should run for Knesset," he said. "I think a head of state
      should have more qualifications than just having money."
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