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UN Envoy: Israel Should Make More Gestures to Abbas

The U.N.'s Mideast envoy is urging Israel to make more gestures to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in an effort to maintain momentum toward peace.

Envoy Michael Williams says he welcomes Israel's recent release of 250 Palestinian prisoners and the transfer of frozen funds to Mr. Abbas. But, he expressed concern that Israel has not taken further steps.

Williams spoke Wednesday after talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials in Jerusalem and Ramallah.

He called on Israel to improve the Palestinians' freedom of movement in the West Bank by removing checkpoints. He said Israel should open more border crossings into the Gaza Strip to prevent a humanitarian crisis in the impoverished territory.

In another development, Palestinian President Abbas said in a statement that recent Israeli military strikes on Palestinian militants cast doubt on Israel's desire to make peace.

Israeli troops have killed 13 Palestinians in military strikes since Monday. Most of the dead were militants in the Gaza Strip. Two children in Gaza were among those killed Tuesday.

Israel has closed Gaza border crossings since the Islamic militant group Hamas seized the strip in fighting with the rival Fatah party.

Mr. Abbas responded to the takeover by dismissing a unity government with Hamas and setting up a Fatah-led government in the West Bank.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.