Middle East

Israel's Prime Minister Open to New Peace Talks

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Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, delivered a major speech Monday, urging long-stalled peace talks be resumed. He also said that if Palestinian militants free a captured Israeli soldier, Israel will release "many" Palestinian prisoners.

In what was billed in advance as a major policy speech, Olmert tried to entice the Palestinians to return to long-stalled peace talks with promises of an immediate improvement in their lives: promising to reduce checkpoints, release frozen funds and free prisoners in exchange for a serious Palestinian push for peace.

"I hold out my hand in peace to our Palestinian neighbors in the hope that it won't be returned empty," Olmert said.

Olmert said the Palestinians would have to renounce violence, recognize Israel's right to live in peace and relinquish demands that refugees from the 1948 war return to their homes in what is now Israel.



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