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Israeli, Palestinian leaders hold talks on Gaza

  • Story Highlights
  • Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas calls for medication and fuel for Gaza
  • Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert: I will not allow a humanitarian catastrophe
  • Olmert and Abbas recommit to a U.S.-sponsored push for a peace agreement
  • Hamas, an Islamic party branded a terrorist organization by the U.S., controls Gaza
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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met Sunday in Jerusalem to discuss the situation in Gaza, the chief Palestinian negotiator told CNN.

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In this image supplied by the Palestinian Authority, Ehud Olmert, right, meets with Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday.

Abbas told Olmert that he fully backs Egyptian efforts to reach a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas leaders in Gaza, according to negotiator Saeb Erekat. Abbas also called for humanitarian aid for the residents of Gaza, including supplies of medication and fuel, Erekat said.

Olmert reiterated that he will not allow a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

The two leaders also reviewed the permanent status negotiations.

Olmert and Abbas met last Monday for the first time in nearly two months, recommitting to a U.S.-sponsored push to achieve a peace agreement by the end of the year.

Fuel supplies to Gaza have been disrupted since Wednesday, when Palestinian militants fatally shot two Israeli civilian workers at the Nahal Oz fuel terminal -- the only transit route for delivering fuel supplies to Gaza. Israel has blamed Hamas for orchestrating the attack "to harness Palestinian public opinion against Israel," according to a statement from Col. Nir Press, Israel's liaison officer with Gaza.

Hamas, an Islamic group branded a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel and the European Union, won control of the Palestinian government in 2006. It wrested control of Gaza from Abbas' Fatah party in 2007, and Palestinian militants have launched waves of rocket attacks into Israel from the territory since then.

Israel has responded with airstrikes and occasional ground incursions into Gaza, and by restricting the flow of fuel, food and medicine.

Press said much of the fuel sent to the Palestinian territory is not being distributed.

"In the last two weeks, there were no restrictions on freely pumping fuel from the Palestinian depot at Nahal Oz and distributing it to filling stations, but this did not take place," he said.

"The closed filling stations, the long lines of people and vehicles waiting many hours to fill their tanks, are all part of a planned Hamas media campaign being conducted at the expense of the civilian population -- a crisis caused by their failure to pump available fuel supplies from the Nahal Oz Palestinian fuel depot."

The Israeli Foreign Ministry noted that it sent rice, sugar, oil, fruit and dairy products on 121 trucks to Gaza on Sunday via the Sufa and Kerem Shalom crossings.

Meanwhile, Israel continued its military operation against militant targets in Gaza on Sunday, striking the Gaza City house of a senior member of Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Palestinian security sources said. The Israeli military would only confirm it carried out an airstrike in northern Gaza.

President Bush is scheduled to meet Abbas on April 24 at the White House.

The Bush administration has urged former President Jimmy Carter not to go forward with plans to meet with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal next week in Damascus, Syria, during a trip to the Mideast. Carter's role will be as a peace promoter, not as a negotiator for the U.S. government, he said in an interview that aired Sunday.

Speaking on ABC News' "This Week," Carter shrugged off criticism from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that a meeting with Hamas would not help U.S. peace efforts.

"I've been meeting with Hamas leaders for years," Carter said. "It's very important that at least someone meet with Hamas leaders to express their views, to ascertain what flexibilities they have, to try to induce them to stop all attacks against innocent civilians in Israel, and to cooperate with Fatah as a group that unites the Palestinians -- maybe to get them to agree to a cease-fire." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About Ehud OlmertMahmoud AbbasGeorge W. BushJimmy Carter

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