Egyptian and Israeli leaders met to discuss a proposed prisoner swap
between Israel and Hamas, as well as the security situation in the Gaza
Strip following a truce between Israel and Palestinian militants.
VOA's Jim Teeple reports from Jerusalem, Palestinian militants fired at
least three rockets at southern Israel on Tuesday in violation of the
Nearly a week after an Egyptian-mediated truce went
into effect between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in the
Gaza Strip, Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarak. They discussed the next step in the process;
a prisoner exchange that would likely see Palestinian militants
released in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was seized
two years ago by Palestinian militants from his post along the Gaza
Speaking as the meeting got underway in the Egyptian
resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Mr. Olmert said Egypt is playing a key role
in calming the situation in Gaza. The Israeli prime minister thanked
Egypt for its continuing efforts to get Shalit released, and he says
the recent truce in Gaza was in large part due to Egyptian efforts.
officials traveling with the prime minister said Egypt had pledged not
to reopen the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza until Shalit
is released. Mr. Mubarak would not comment except to say Egypt is
making an effort to get the Israeli soldier freed.
Israeli authorities confirmed they had killed two Palestinians,
including a senior Islamic Jihad commander in the West Bank city of
Nablus in the first such operation since the Gaza truce went into
effect last week.
Later in the day in apparent retaliation,
Islamic Jihad militants fired at least three rockets from Gaza -
striking the southern Israeli city of Sderot. A statement from Hamas
militants said they remained committed to the truce.
Israeli operation was condemned by Palestinian officials attending a
40-nation conference in Berlin that pledged $242 million in donor aid
to build up a judicial infrastructure, and boost the security forces of
moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank.
envoy Tony Blair told the conference Palestinians need a build a
judicial system in order to fulfill their aspirations for a state.
is just not about forces with guns, it is about a properly functioning
criminal justice system, it is about courts and a prosecution service,
a prison service," he said. "It is about a full infrastructure that
goes to make up a criminal justice system of a state.
West Bank city of Bethlehem, French President Nicolas Sarkozy held
talks Tuesday with moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Mr.
Sarkozy, who wrapped up a three-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian
territories, said Israel's security is non-negotiable for France, but
that Israel should freeze settlement activity in the West Bank. The
French president also strongly condemned Hamas militants, saying peace
cannot be created through terrorism.
Mr. Sarkozy's departure
from Israel was marred when an Israeli border policeman committed
suicide about 100 meters from where the departure ceremony was taking
place. As a gunshot rang out security officials quickly moved Mr.
Sarkozy and his wife to their plane cutting short the ceremony.