Olmert, Abbas meet


Ehud Olmert met Mahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem.

The Israeli prime minister hosted the Palestinian Authority president at his official residence Monday for talks on taking the peace process forward. Officials said Olmert would formalize Israel’s decision to free 250 Palestinian prisoners and grant amnesty to 180 gunmen from Abbas’ Fatah faction as part of efforts to build up the president’s administration after he broke with Hamas last month.

For now, Olmert has resisted Palestinian calls to enter final-status peace negotiations with Abbas. Israeli officials say the Palestinian Authority president should first prove he is serious about containing Hamas.

Abbas’ new prime minister, Salam Fayyad, said this approach is mistaken.

“In order to rebuild the faith of the Palestinian and Israeli publics in the peace process, we must tackle the short term and long term simultaneously,” Fayyad told Ha’aretz.

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