Israel has postponed a cabinet meeting scheduled to begin Monday
morning in order to give negotiators more time to work toward an
agreement with Hamas on the release of an Israeli soldier held by
Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.
Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sent two senior officials to Cairo Saturday for talks with Egyptian mediators. Mr. Olmert told his Cabinet that he instructed the officials to conclude the talks by the end of the day on Sunday, ahead Monday's Cabinet meeting. But he then put off the meeting until Tuesday to make more time for the talks.
Hamas militants captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit during a cross-border raid nearly three years ago. The soldier has become a focal point of Egyptian efforts to mediate a long-term cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
Hamas is seeking the release of hundreds of prisoners held by Israel in exchange for Shalit.
Separately, in another set of talks in Cairo, rival Palestinian factions agreed to hold presidential and legislative elections by the end of January 2010. But Fatah and Hamas remain at odds over the issue of forming a unity government that would prepare for the polls.
The two groups, also meeting with Egyptian mediators, have not resolved their differences on how to deal with Israel. Hamas believes in armed struggle against the Jewish state, while Fatah is willing to join a truce and negotiate with Israel.
While the diplomatic efforts proceeded in Cairo, two Israeli police officers were shot to death in the West Bank. Police said they suspect Palestinian gunmen were responsible for the shooting near Masu'a in the northern West Bank.
Officials say the officers were found inside their overturned police car. One was already dead. The other died while receiving emergency treatment.