Abbas says ‘siege’ on Palestinians to be lifted
CAIRO: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday he was cautiously optimistic that the embargo against the Palestinians would slowly be lifted as the coalition government of the militant Hamas bloc and his moderate Fatah movement gains support abroad.
Abass comments came after a meeting with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, which on Friday hosted rare face-to-face meeting between Abbas and the exiled Hamas political chief, Khaled Mashaal. It was the first meeting of the two since their sides joined in a coalition government in March.
Abbas arrived in the Egyptian capital from a seven-nation touring of European Union countries this month -his latest attempt to persuade Europe to end the aid cutoff and fully resume dealings with Palestinian government.
“There is a possibility of the lifting of the siege on the Palestinian people, it will come gradually,” Abbas said in Cairo on Saturday. “We didn’t feel that there are problems with the European countries, either in terms of the lifting of the financial siege or the political siege.”
Abbas said he and Mashaal on Friday “discussed many issues related to the time following the coalition government formation, and the necessary steps that should be taken to enable the government to carry out its duties and lift the siege. “
Hamas’ representative in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan, has said the meeting would also consider a “restructuring” of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. The umbrella group _ which is separate from the newly formed Fatah-Hamas government _ is the sole party authorized to conduct negotiations with Israel. Since the coalition government was approved, Hamas has been pressing to acquire the post of deputy chairman of the PLO, apparently jostling for more influence in talks with Israel. ap