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Israeli, Palestinian Leaders Discuss Peace Moves

Israeli and Palestinian leaders have discussed peace moves in a telephone call. But the prospects of reviving the peace process are poor.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called Israel's new Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and urged him to resume peace talks. Mr. Abbas congratulated Mr. Olmert on the formation of a new Israeli government, which was sworn in on Thursday.

But Israel brushed off the offer of peace talks because it does not believe that Mr. Abbas has any clout. The Islamic militant group Hamas now controls the Palestinian Authority and it seeks the destruction of the Jewish state.

Israeli Cabinet Secretary Yisrael Maimon told Israel Radio that there can be no peace talks until Hamas meets three conditions set down by the international community: It must renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept previous peace agreements.

Hamas has rejected those conditions. And with Hamas calling the shots, Israel believes that any peace deal with Mr. Abbas, who heads the more moderate Fatah party, would be meaningless.

Former Palestinian legislator Sabri Saddam disagrees.

"President Abbas is the godfather of the Palestinians right now, and he is the leader of the Palestinians," he said.

Since Israel believes that Hamas is a terrorist regime and that Mr. Abbas cannot deliver, the new government plans to withdraw from large parts of the West Bank unilaterally. As the same, it would annex major settlement blocs. It is part of Mr. Olmert's master plan to draw Israel's final borders by 2010.

Hamas, which demands an Israeli withdrawal from all of the West Bank, and the sacred Old City of Jerusalem, says Mr. Olmert's plan is a declaration of war.