Palestinian, Israeli Leaders to Meet

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert are scheduled to meet June 7 in an effort to end the growing violence in Gaza and southern Israel and set the region on a path to peace.

Palestinian officials said the site for the meeting has not been set, but the West Bank town of Jericho has been proposed.

Plans for the U.S.-backed peace talk were under way Tuesday, even as the violence continued in Gaza. Four Palestinian militants were killed in fighting, while three others died while mishandling explosives, Palestinian officials said.

Abbas said he hopes to line up Palestinian factions behind a truce deal before next week's meeting. Under his plan, Gaza militants would halt rocket fire for a month to allow for negotiations on a more comprehensive cease-fire that would include the West Bank.

Olmert's office said the prime minister will demand that the attacks on Israel stop when the leaders meet. On Monday, Israeli leaders authorized larger numbers of ground forces to enter the volatile territory on pinpoint missions against Hamas rocket squads.

In March, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice secured promises from the two men that they would meet every two weeks, but they have met only once — on April 15. Since then, a November truce in Gaza has deteriorated into violence, with Hamas firing rockets into Israel and Israel carrying out air raids in Gaza.

In the West Bank city of Nablus, Israeli troops arrested Palestinian legislator Jamal Tirawi of Fatah, who has close ties to the movement's violent offshoot and was wanted for alleged involvement in attacks on Israel.

In the past year, Israel has arrested dozens of Hamas lawmakers, but Tirawi was the first to be detained from Abbas' Fatah movement, which shares power with Hamas.

Hamas has been the main force behind the more than 250 rockets that have been fired at southern Israel from Gaza, killing two civilians and sending thousands fleeing to safer ground. Israeli aircraft have struck at militant targets dozens of times in an effort to curb the rocket fire, killing some 50 Palestinians.

Compiled from NPR and Associated Press reports.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.