Archive for Monday, March 12, 2007

Leaders make little progress at summit

March 12, 2007


— The second summit in a month between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders, encouraged by U.S. officials as a way to nurture their fledgling dialogue, produced little progress on Sunday. A Palestinian participant called it "difficult."

In the only concrete result, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledged to keep the vital Karni cargo crossing between Israel and Gaza open for longer hours to allow more goods to enter and exit the seaside territory, an official said. Israel has kept Karni closed often, citing security threats.

Larger issues standing in the way of a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians - borders, Jewish settlements, Palestinian refugees, Jerusalem - were apparently not even seriously discussed. Olmert said in advance that the talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would be limited to humanitarian issues.

His position reflected Israel's rejection of the government headed by the violently anti-Israel Hamas as well as the impending Palestinian unity government consisting of Hamas and Abbas' more moderate Fatah movement.

Mohammed Dahlan, a Palestinian negotiator who attended the meeting, called the summit "difficult." He said the Palestinians called on Olmert to fulfill his pledge to ease travel restrictions in the West Bank by removing roadblocks, and to release sick and elderly Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, but Olmert made no promises.


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