Brown: Israel should help Palestinian economy


LONDON (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met in London with his British counterpart to discuss the prospects for peace with the Palestinians. 

Gordon Brown, who opened a trade and investment conference Monday with the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, called on Israel to help the Palestinian economy.

Following Tuesday’s breakfast meeting, Brown invited Olmert to join him at the opening of the weekly Cabinet meeting.

Brown urged Olmert to lift constraints on the Palestinian economy, including the limitation on cash transfers to banks in the Gaza Strip, which he said is damaging the entire Palestinian economy.

After the meeting, Olmert told reporters that he sees the Arab Peace Initiative as a positive step that could be a "positive framework" for progress.

On Monday, the British prime minister added his voice to the call of 22 Arab leaders who signed a letter to U.S. President-elect Barak Obama asking him to give urgent priority to attaining Middle East peace.

Brown and Olmert also discussed Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which the British premier described as "blockage."

Olmert said that during his time in office no new settlements were built and all building was inside existing settlements, and in areas of Jerusalem which will likely remain part of Israel under a peace deal.

Olmert is scheduled to meet Tuesday evening with Jewish community leaders in Britain.

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