The meeting was limited to talks on economic issues, joint projects and issues surrounding the Gaza crossing points, according to Ynet news service.
It was conducted with Olmert’s support, despite the official Kadima party line that it will not talk with representatives of a Hamas-controlled PA government. Peres representatives refused to confirm or deny that the meeting had actually taken place.
Abbas said the PA is supporting Kadima in the upcoming Israeli elections, according to a report in Italian daily Corriere della Sera. “I hope Olmert wins,” he said in a reference to Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. “I know him well. I believe that with him we could work in a productive way,” said Abbas.
He was careful to add that he was willing to meet with Israeli officials regardless of who wins the elections. “We’ll respect the will of the Israeli people,” he said.
Labor party officials praised Olmert for approving the move and called for more contact with moderate Arab officials, taking credit for pushing Olmert to finally agree to a meeting between Peres and Abbas. They added that Labor initiated such contacts, citing several meetings party Chairman Amir Peretz has held with Arab moderates since the PA elections.