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News Brief

March 6, 2006
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Ehud Olmert reportedly plans to carry out further West Bank withdrawals if he wins the Israeli elections. The interim prime minister will seek to enlist foreign support for a major unilateral pullback in the West Bank if his Kadima Party wins the March 28 vote, as it is predicted to do, Ha’aretz reported Sunday. Yediot Achronot quoted a senior Olmert ally in Kadima, former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter, as saying many isolated West Bank settlements would be evacuated while Israel maintains control of six settlement blocs and the Jordan Valley.

Russia’s president briefed Ehud Olmert on his government’s talks with Hamas officials. The Kremlin statement said Sunday that Vladimir Putin telephoned Israel’s interim prime minister for a “detailed exchange of opinions” on the weekend talks in Moscow. Russia is pressing Hamas to renounce terrorism and recognize Israel’s right to exist, neither of which has so far been accepted by the group. Israeli officials were furious about the Russian invitation, seeing it as a major threat to Israel’s desire to deny Hamas international legitimacy.

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