A meeting between the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has ended with the two sides no closer together. But from the outset, it was clear that any hopes for progress were dim. The Israelis say they will not deal with a Palestinian government unless it recognises Israel, renounces violence, and accepts existing peace deals.
President Abbas is in the process of completing a coalition government with Hamas, an organisation which refuses to recognise Israel, and indeed is constitutionally bound to its destruction. And Fatah and Hamas are fighting each other. In the Northern Gaza Strip, a Hamas gunman was killed – the first fatality since both sides agreed an end to violence, and to form a unity government.
The fighting spread to Gaza City, leaving eight people wounded. The violence erupted shortly after news that the announcement of the unity government would be in the next few days. The two parties had been at loggerheads over who would be interior minister, an impasse they now say is close to resolution.