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Abbas to push Olmert on peace talks: Aide
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 06 - 04 - 2008

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (puctured) will assess the state of peace talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at their next planned meeting in Jerusalem on Monday, a senior Abbas aide said.
Monday's meeting will be the first between the two leaders since Abbas briefly broke off talks last month following Israel's killing of over 120 Palestinians, many of them civilians, in an offensive in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Israel said the incursion was intended to counter cross-border rocket fire by militants. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and former Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qurie have led regular negotiating sessions but these have shown little sign of progress since their launch at a peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland in November.
The two sides are trying to reach a framework agreement by the end of 2008 that would outline the shape of a future Palestinian state.
Olmert has stated that implementation of any agreement would only take place once Abbas has reined in West Bank and Gaza Strip militants, as called for under a long-stalled “road map” peace plan.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Abbas would present his position that Israel has not met any of its initial commitments under the road map plan.
Israel has yet to halt all settlement activity and uproot Jewish outposts in the West Bank built without Israeli government authorization, as stated in the road map.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said that neither Israel nor the Palestinians had done “nearly enough” to meet peacemaking obligations. Olmert and Abbas last met on Feb. 19. Erekat said Abbas would also raise the situation in the Gaza Strip and the possibility of opening border crossings in and out of the blockaded territory which is ruled by Islamist Hamas who wrested control from Abbas's forces there in June. __

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