Former United States president Jimmy Carter said on Monday Hamas leaders told him they would accept a peace agreement negotiated by their rival, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, if Palestinians approved the deal in a vote. In a speech, Carter said Hamas ''said they would accept a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders if approved by Palestinians.''
The United States is not satisfied with the pace at which Israel is moving to implement a long-stalled peace ''road map'', US and Western officials said ahead of a key meeting to assess compliance with the plan. Officials said Washington also believed the Palestinians needed to do far more to meet their obligations to boost security.
Deputy Israeli Defence Minister Matan Vilnai said on Friday the Palestinians would bring on themselves what he called a ''bigger holocaust'' by stepping up rocket attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip. ''Holocaust'' is a term rarely used in Israel outside discussions of the Nazi genocide during World War II.
Israeli leaders vowed on Monday to step up their war against Hamas and predicted the Islamists' grip on the Gaza Strip would end within months. Two days after a rocket wounded an Israeli child in a country grown used to barrages that do little damage, Defence Minister Ehud Barak pledged to step up the military campaign.
Israel threatened to topple the Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers on Monday following a surge of cross-border rocket attacks by the Palestinian Islamist group. ''I believe a combination of steps against Hamas in Gaza will bring an end to the Hamas regime in Gaza,'' Israel's Vice-Premier, Haim Ramon, told reporters. ''They will not last. It will take a few months.''
Israel wants to cut its links with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip after militants blasted open the territory's border with Egypt in defiance of an Israeli blockade. Israel, which occupied the Gaza Strip in 1967, pulled troops and settlers out in 2005 but still controls its northern and eastern borders.
Israel's attorney general (AG) told the government on Monday it could not cut electrical power to the Gaza Strip as part of its sanctions against the Hamas controlled territory, although he did approve other measures. Israel began implementing economic sanctions on Sunday in what it said was a response to Palestinian rocket fire on Israeli towns.
The battle over the agenda of a conference on Palestinian statehood offers United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a glimpse of the gruelling process that awaits if and when the two sides enter formal negotiations. Four days of shuttle diplomacy by Rice this week were not enough to close the gaps.
Ahmed Alhaj Ali's tumultuous week started with his detention by Palestinian forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and ended with him shuttling from safe house to safe house to evade Israeli arrest. Forces loyal to Abbas have detained at least 299 Hamas supporters in the West Bank in the last three weeks, according to a Hamas official.
United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed on Monday to hold a three-way meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on reviving peace talks, an Olmert adviser said. The adviser, Miri Eisin, said the three would convene for talks in the ''near future''.