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Olmert, Abbas Meet to Discuss Gaza Crisis

  • VOA News

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have met to discuss the crisis on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

The two did not disclose details from their two hours of talks. A spokesman for Mr. Olmert said both men are committed to providing humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

Before the meeting, Palestinian officials said Mr. Abbas would ask Israel to allow Palestinian Authority forces to deploy to the border. But it is not clear if forces loyal to Mr. Abbas would be able to take control of the area now held by rival Hamas fighters.

On Sunday, Egyptian border guards began restricting vehicle traffic crossing the border and setting up more checkpoints on roads from the border town Rafah.

REST OPT

Hamas fighters blew up security fences along Egypt's border Wednesday to allow hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to buy food and other supplies. Israel sealed its borders with Gaza nearly two weeks ago to protest rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas militants.

Egyptian officials have grown increasingly concerned about the border situation following clashes that have wounded at least 40 Egyptian border guards.

Hamas controls Gaza while the moderate Fatah-led Palestinian Authority controls the West Bank. Egypt has invited the rival factions for talks on resolving the border crisis. Hamas has accepted, but Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he will refuse to meet with Hamas until it returns control of Gaza to Fatah.

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