Israeli, Palestinian leaders to meet next week

May 30, 2007|By New York Times News Service.

JERUSALEM -- Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, and Ehud Olmert, Israel's prime minister, will meet next week, their offices said yesterday, in a continuation of a Washington-sponsored dialogue that will inevitably focus on another round of Israeli-Palestinian warfare.

In March, they promised Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that they would meet every two weeks to discuss "a political horizon" for an Israeli-Palestinian settlement. They had met only once, on April 15, before a fierce new round of intra-Palestinian fighting in the Gaza Strip segued into a new barrage of rockets from Gaza into Israel, joined this time by Hamas, which has drawn the Israeli military into a new round of airstrikes.

Abbas is trying to persuade Palestinian factions to halt the rocket fire and work toward a new cease-fire with Israel that would extend to the West Bank. He hopes to present a truce proposal to Olmert, who has indicated that he will demand a halt to the attacks on Israel but will not promise anything in return.

"We have no intention of reaching any kind of settlement, either with Hamas or with Islamic Jihad," Olmert said yesterday in parliament. "We will hit them and continue to hit them." But he said he intended to speak to the people of Gaza, "to explain to them that first and foremost they are the victims of the fanaticism of a few within them."

The Israeli crackdown continued yesterday, with an airstrike on a Hamas training base in Gaza, a raid by Israeli troops into southern Gaza to arrest Hamas members, where they shot and killed two Hamas fighters, and the arrest in the West Bank of a Palestinian legislator from Fatah.

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