Talks between Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas produced no breakthrough, though an unconfirmed report said there was hope for the release of a kidnapped Israeli soldier. The Israeli prime minister and P.A. president met Sunday at Olmert’s residence in Jerusalem for talks that observers predicted would not move the sides much closer to peace. They spoke for two-and-a-half hours, much of the time without aides, and held no news conference at the end. Aides said the two committed to continue the dialogue and that Olmert pledged to extend the operating hours of the commercial Karni crossing in Gaza. The leaders also discussed the fate of Israeli soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped by Palestinian gunmen in a June 25 border raid. According to a Channel 10 report, Abbas said that Shalit would be released “soon.” The talks are the second for Olmert and Abbas, and shortly follow a unity deal between warring Fatah and Hamas factions. Israel has vowed to continue its boycott of the Palestinian Authority unless the new coalition accepts international conditions of renouncing terrorism and accepting Israel’s right to exist.
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