Abbas hopes to meet Olmert as rocket fire threatens truce with Israel
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday he hopes to hold a summit with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert by the end of the year. The two leaders have expressed readiness to hold their first summit for months.
"We always showed our willingness to hold this meeting with Olmert, and it's no secret that we hope it will take place before the end of this year," Abbas said at a news conference with the visiting Italian foreign minister, Massimo D'Alema. "There is progress in preparations for this meeting."
According to Abbas, he wants Israel to free hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, but Olmert has ruled out a prisoner release until Hamas activists release an Israeli soldier they captured last June.
Meanwhile, a Palestinian rocket aimed at Israel landed on a home in the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday, moderately wounding a 2-year-old boy sleeping in his bedroom, hospital officials and residents said, according to the AP.
The rocket fire further strained a cease-fire reached between Israel and Palestinian groups late last month. Israeli officials say Palestinians have fired more than 40 rockets since the Nov. 26 truce, and Olmert warned this week that his patience is wearing thin.
On the internal front, Gaza remained calm Thursday on the second day of a renewed truce between the Palestinian rivals.