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Israel Rejects Abbas' Proposal for Peace Conference

The Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, is calling for an international peace conference that would include direct negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis.

Israel has rejected the idea.

An Israeli official said Wednesday that Israel accepts the "road map," an international plan for resuming peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

In a speech Wednesday at the Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway, Mr. Abbas said international sponsors of a new Mideast conference should act as both brokers and arbitrators, in order to move the peace process forward. He said he would lead the Palestinian delegation to talks.

Meanwhile, in the Palestinian territories, security forces in Gaza foiled an attack by militants who tried to ram a car full of explosives into a border crossing with Israel.

In the West Bank, Israel killed a Palestinian militant during a raid on a village near Jenin.

In Israel, a small political party representing pensioners has agreed to join Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Kadima party in a coalition government. Kadima needs other political parties to join before it can claim a parliamentary majority. The Pensioners are the first to announce an agreement with Kadima.

In Norway, Mr. Abbas did not specify whether he thinks the Mideast peace "quartet" - made up of the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union - or another group should sponsor a peace conference.

He urged the international community to move rapidly on a negotiated settlement before Israel takes unilateral action to annex large Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Israel refuses to negotiate with the Hamas-led Palestinian government. Israeli officials have called Mr. Abbas and his Fatah party irrelevant.

Mr. Abbas meets French officials in Paris later this week.