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Olmert: Israel May Soon Expand Offensive in Gaza


Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says Israel may soon expand its military offensive in Gaza.

Mr. Olmert says any increase in the effort to stop Palestinian militant attacks against Israel will not be a prolonged operation.

The Israeli leader made the comments Monday to a parliamentary committee in Jerusalem.

Israeli troops have been operating against militants in Gaza since June, trying to stop the smuggling of weapons, and the firing of rockets into Israel. Troops are also are looking for an Israeli soldier captured by militants in a cross-border raid.

In another development, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana says he is optimistic that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will be able to form a unity government to ease political tensions between Palestinian factions.

Solana says he hopes that within a few days, Mr. Abbas will reach agreement with the ruling Hamas faction on creating a Cabinet of experts and professionals. Solana was speaking in Cairo Sunday after meeting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Mr. Abbas has been seeking to form a Cabinet of neutral business leaders and administrators without links to either Hamas or his own Fatah faction. Mr. Abbas hopes such a Cabinet will meet international demands and lead to the lifting of sanctions against the Palestinian Authority.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.