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Israeli, Palestinian leaders shelve construction dispute

FRIDAY, DEC. 28, 2007

JERUSALEM – Israeli and Palestinian leaders agreed Thursday to put aside a dispute over Israeli construction in a Jerusalem neighborhood and get down to work on a final peace agreement, according to participants at the meeting.

The two-hour meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appeared to break an impasse that has clouded renewed peacemaking, and cleared the way for a visit by President Bush next month.

It was the first summit between the two leaders since they relaunched peace talks at a U.S.-hosted meeting last month.

“Beginning next week, final status negotiations will be resumed,” said Ahmed Qureia, the lead Palestinian negotiator.

Alongside the talks, violence continued in Gaza. Late Thursday, Israeli aircraft killed a senior Islamic Jihad commander, Mohammed Abdala, the militant group said. He was the third senior Islamic Jihad militant killed in the last two weeks. The Israeli military confirmed it carried out an airstrike.

Abu Hamza, an Islamic Jihad spokesman, pledged revenge. “We will continue to bring terror and destruction and death among the Zionists until we uproot them from our land,” he said.

Five other militants were killed in two Israeli attacks earlier Thursday.


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