Gaza violence overshadows Bush visit

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Wednesday expressed hope for an Egyptian-brokered truce with militant factions in Gaza, but threatened to use unprecedented military power if rocket attacks from the Strip did not stop.

He spoke after a rocket fired from northern Gaza penetrated the roof of a shopping mall in the southern Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon, striking a clinic on the top floor and injuring at least 16 Israelis, among them a mother and her toddler daughter. More than 60 others were treated for shock.

The strike came after clashes between Israeli troops and local militants in southern and northern Gaza left at least three Palestinian militants and a civilian dead. At least nine other Palestinians were wounded, medical officials said.

Calling the rocket strike on the shopping mall "intolerable and unacceptable," Olmert said Israel would "take the necessary steps so that this will stop."

The new eruption of violence in and from Gaza overshadowed the start Wednesday of a 48-hour visit to Israel by US President George W Bush, marking the 60th anniversary of the country's establishment on May 14, 1948.

Despite the violence in and from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, peace negotiations with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas were making "serious progress," Olmert told Bush.

Addressing a conference in Jerusalem, celebrating Israel's 60th anniversary and attended by Bush as well as dozens of other leaders and dignitaries from around the world, Olmert said the negotiations "hopefully will come to fruition within this year, 2008."

"We are genuinely interested in meeting the time framework that we talked about in Annapolis," Olmert said earlier after meeting Bush.

The Israeli premier and Abbas agreed in the Maryland capital some five months ago to end a seven-year freeze in the peace process and strive for a peace deal before Bush leaves office in January 2009.

But the ongoing Gaza violence, as well as bitter arguments over Israel's refusal to stop building in a number of West Bank settlement blocks which it has vowed to keep under a future peace deal, have cast a dark shadow on the revived talks.

Palestinian officials have downplayed Israel's statements of progress in the negotiations.

"There is still a big gap between us and them regarding all final final status issues. We hope to bridge this gap," senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Voice of Palestine Radio Wednesday.

Erekat nevertheless called the negotiations "serious and in-depth" and said they dealt with all the core issues of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict "without any exception."

Olmert said Wednesday he wanted to reach an "understanding" that would deal with key issues, including Israel's and the future Palestinian state's final borders, security arrangements between the two states and the Palestinian refugee problem.

But he hinted that a final settlement on perhaps the most sensitive issue - Jerusalem - may be postponed. The "understanding," he said, "will set forth also, at the end of the day, the framework for how to deal later with the issue of Jerusalem."

On Gaza, Olmert said he discussed several days ago with Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman the "possible terms for what may emerge as a cease-fire."

"We will make exceptional efforts that we will not explain, but Israel naturally will not be able to tolerate continuous attacks on innocent civilians," he said, adding: "We hope that we will not have to act against Hamas in other ways with military power that Israel hasn't yet started to use in a serious manner in order to stop it."

Addressing the same Jerusalem conference, Bush wished Israel a "happy birthday" and joked "save a seat in the ex-leaders' club." He also praised Israel for establishing "one of the world's great democracies in a region where democracy has few roots."

Welcomed by Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem after landing in Tel Aviv earlier Wednesday, Bush expressed unequivocal support for Israel, which he called "our strongest ally and friend in the Middle East."

Unlike during his first visit in January, Bush will not travel to Ramallah. But he will be briefed on the difficult peace talks by the Palestinian side in meetings with Abbas and Acting Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on Saturday and Sunday.

US National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, briefing reporters en route to Israel, conceded there were "ups and downs" in the negotiations, but said Bush continued "to be hopeful" the sides would be able to reach a deal before he left office.

"The issues are hard. And the process goes forward, and obviously the president is going to try and give some impetus to that process in the conversations he is having on his trip," he said. "We still think this can be done."

With the scores of dignitaries attending the Peres conference along with Bush, as many as 14,000 police were deployed to secure the visit, codenamed "Operation Clear Skies 2," a number higher even than the 10,000 which safeguarded Bush's first visit in January.

But as Israel continued its celebrations - begun already last week according to the Jewish calendar - Palestinians began marking the 60th anniversary of the 1948-1949 Arab-Israeli war that erupted following Israel's creation.

Hundreds of Palestinians clashed with Israeli troops at a number of military checkpoints in the West Bank, who responded to stone- throwing with rubber bullets and teargas, dpa reported.

Subscribe to Trend in Google News! Subscribe
Kazakhstan reports increase in all types of deposits
Kazakhstan reports increase in all types of deposits
Kazakhstan to consider construction of reservoirs in Kyzylorda region
Kazakhstan to consider construction of reservoirs in Kyzylorda region
Kazakhstan doesn’t plan to suspend scheduled flights – ministry
Kazakhstan doesn’t plan to suspend scheduled flights – ministry
Loading Bars
Latest
Kazakhstan reports increase in all types of deposits
Kazakhstan to consider construction of reservoirs in Kyzylorda region
Kazakhstan doesn’t plan to suspend scheduled flights – ministry
Iran reactivates fuel stations after cyberattack
Azerbaijan betters positions in revised Global Firepower 2021 rating
Iranian currency rates for October 28
Booster jab is important for long-term protection against COVID-19 - Azerbaijani doctor
National Iranian Oil Company discloses volume of gas to be extracted in country
SOCAR Ukraine sees 11% increase in fuel sales
Iran and Turkmenistan sign cooperation document
Iran's export to Kazakhstan increases
Azerbaijani boxers start performance in World Cup in Belgrade with victory
Azerbaijan repatriates 38 children from Iraqi orphanages – MFA
Turkey unveils number of ships docking at Antalya port
Iran's Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on October 30
Brent falls to two-week low after inventory shock
Vienna talks to be resumed in late Nov.: Ulyanov
Georgia increases re-exports of vehicles
Coronavirus caseload in Kazakhstan climbs to 934,387
Iran prepares to boost maritime transit
Biden likely to head to COP26 without a final U.S. climate deal
6 companies to recall nearly 330,000 vehicles over faulty parts in South Korea
India rejects net zero carbon emissions target, says pathway more important
Australia eases COVID-19 travel advisory ahead of border reopening
Barcelona sack coach Koeman after loss to Rayo Vallecano
US, Turkey hold new talks to 'resolve F-35 dispute'
EU top court fines Poland 1 mln euros per day amid legal row
Turkey reports 26,896 daily COVID-19 cases
US tells Iran ‘window will not remain open forever’ to revive nuclear deal
Portugal's parliament rejects budget, snap election looms in 2022
Better future awaits Karabakh Armenians as citizens of Azerbaijan after opening of Fuzuli Int'l Airport - Russian expert
Chronicles of Victory: President Ilham Aliyev interviewed by Russian Interfax agency on October 28, 2020 (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Chronicles of Victory: October 28, 2020
Blinken says he ordered reviews of State Dept's evacuation efforts out of Afghanistan
Moderna COVID shot could be used in U.S. children, teens within weeks
London launches Europe's biggest scheme to drive polluting vehicles off roads
14th batch of Sputnik V vaccines delivered to Iran Embassy in Moscow
GD leaders address supporters, promise Georgia's development
Opening of Fuzuli Int'l Airport landmark event for Azerbaijan and dev't of region- Russian expert
Japanese Noritsuisu Co. Ltd preparing to launch new project in Uzbekistan
Kazakhstan’s mining company opens tender on spare parts for truck
Uzbekistan to build its first digital control system substation
Turkey unveils its economy sectors attracting foreign investors
Azerbaijan reveals TOP-10 banks in terms of income for 3Q2021
Azerbaijan’s TOP-10 banks in expenditures terms for 3Q2021 revealed
TBC Bank to financially support Georgian farmers
Kazakhstan draws up national project for energy complex dev’t by 2025
Kazakhstan discloses deterioration degree of local power grids
Cairo-Moscow flight returns to airport due to suspicious message in cabin
Norwegian Air to lease 13 Boeing planes
McDonald's sales soar on higher prices, newer menu items
Iran supports development of constructive relations with Azerbaijan - FM
Iran’s PMO declares volume of essential products available in ports
TOP-10 Azerbaijani banks in terms of net profit for 3Q2021
Azerbaijan inks new deals with several states on investment in its Alat FEZ - ministry
Kazakhstan increases mobile internet speed in September
IMIDRO reveals data on iron ore concentrate production in Iran
Renaissance Capital forecasts inflation in Georgia to slow down
Azerbaijan talks possible vaccination of adolescents prone to catching COVID-19
Kazakhstan considering introducing carbon tax
India, Kyrgyzstan hold first strategic dialogue, discuss Afghanistan
Uzbekistan Railways modernizing railway carriages to increase passenger traffic
Japanese TEPCO plans to continue investment in Georgia's energy sector
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price rebounds
Iran`s TEDPIX on the rise after week of decline
Teva Pharm Q3 profit misses estimates, to sell $4 bln in bonds
OPEC ready to strengthen co-op with Turkmenistan
Kazakh Energy Ministry working on building nuclear power plant
Uzbek Ministry of Finance to cancel fees for purchase of used cars in 2022
Indian Railways changes policy, PSUs to now compete in open market for tenders
Turkey's leather exports to Iran up in value for 9M2021
Azerbaijan confirms 2,300 more COVID-19 cases, 1,248 recoveries
Azerbaijan shares data on number of vaccinated citizens
Georgia and Spain eye to launch direct flights between capitals
Azerbaijan, WB ink new loan agreement
Iron ore concentrate production by giant Iranian companies up
Turkmenistan starts experimental growth of papaya in Mary region
IMF revising India's growth forecast is 'gross under estimation': N K Singh
Turkish KOSGEB talks interest in implementing projects in Azerbaijan's Karabakh
Decarbonization of economy to transform Kazakhstan’s fuel and energy complex – minister
Kazakhstan's trade indicators with EAEU member states for 8M2021 unveiled
Kazakhstan records decrease in renewable energy tariffs
Bank Keshavarzi Iran provides loans for construction of greenhouses
State Grain Fund of Azerbaijan transferred to jurisdiction of State Reserves Agency
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev congratulates President of Czech Republic
Iran resumes rice imports
Israel government foreign currency bonds to trade on Tel Aviv bourse
Putin, Finnish president to discuss bilateral cooperation, global issues — Kremlin
Uber partners with Hertz to offer 50,000 Tesla rentals to U.S. ride-hail drivers
Turkmenistan and Iran to expand trade ties
Equinor slightly reduces equity production of liquids and gas
Nar upgrades another sale and service center (PHOTO)
Achieving carbon neutrality in Kazakhstan requires big investments - minister
Amount of loans issued by Bank Keshavarzi Iran increasing
Azerbaijan’s liberated lands to soon become example of modern production for entire region – Erdogan
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for October 27
Equinor expects 2% increase in 2021 liquids and gas production
Iran, Uzbekistan seek to boost ties both regionally and internationally
Iran`s Raisi reaffirms will to boost ties with Turkmenistan
AIIB helps strengthen healthcare infrastructure in India
All news