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Israel and the Palestinian Authority hope to make a joint declaration of peacemaking intents, Ehud Olmert said. “We are talking between us about a joint declaration that we hope we can formulate,” the Israeli prime minister told his Cabinet in broadcast remarks Sunday, referring to his recent contacts with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. President Bush plans to convene Olmert, Abbas and other Middle East leaders this fall for a conference on the possibility of founding a peaceful Palestinian state in the West Bank following Hamas’ seizure of the Gaza Strip. Abbas has urged Olmert to commit to concrete concessions on major diplomatic issues including borders, Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees, but Israel has balked. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is due in the region this week in an effort to narrow differences between the sides.

Hamas intends to carry out a major terrorist attack that will scuttle an upcoming U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace conference, Israel’s military intelligence chief said. Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin, briefing the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Sunday, said the dominant Palestinian Islamists are trying to launch a “spectacular” attack on Israel that could prompt it to withdraw from the fall parley with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Israel recently stepped up its operations against Hamas and fellow terrorist groups in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Turning to other regional foes, Yadlin said although Israel suffered setbacks in the Lebanon war, it has since managed to restore its ability to project “deterrence,” or superior military power, in the face of Syria. He had no direct comment on this month’s alleged Israeli airstrike against strategic targets in Syria. Yadlin noted further that while the Iranian nuclear program has yet to reach fruition, the Tehran regime is behaving as though it has “crossed the line” and attained the bomb.

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