Olmert, Abbas to review progress

PM expected to detail roadblocks removed; Erekat: Talks to address Gaza and Egyptian truce efforts.

olmert abbas 224.88 (photo credit: GPO [file])
olmert abbas 224.88
(photo credit: GPO [file])
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas are due to meet on Monday to review the state of the final status peace talks. An Israeli official confirmed that talks are due to take place "in the first part of the week." Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that the two leaders would also talk about how much each side had done to meet its peace obligations. The prime minister is expected to detail the West Bank roadblocks that have been removed following the Israeli promise to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week that 50 such barriers would be taken down. The escape of 12 Fatah fugitives from Nablus prison on Friday is also expected to be raised during the discussions. Erekat said the two leaders would also talk about the situation in the Gaza Strip and Egypt's efforts to arrange a truce on the Gaza-Israel border. Israeli officials told The Jerusalem Post that Jerusalem was not familiar with details of a Channel 2 television report Saturday night that Egypt was willing to commit troops to Gaza as part of efforts to achieve a cease-fire. Olmert and Abbas have been meeting regularly, in parallel to peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian teams, headed by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Ahmed Qurei. The two leaders last met on February 19. A number of attempts to meet since then were unsuccessful, partly due to Palestinian anger over last month's IDF operation in Gaza during which 120 people were killed.