New Olmert, Abbas meeting planned for Sunday

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are to meet for a second time this month for talks on final status issues, Palestinian sources said Saturday, dpa reported. The meeting to take place Sunday is to cover the latest talks by the two with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, whose country mediated the resumption of peace negotiations.
Also on the agenda are the lifting of Israeli checkpoints, the releasing of prisoners and the curtailing of settlement activities in the West Bank.
Taking part in the talks will be Israeli Foreign Minister Palestinian chief negotiator Ahmed Qureia and Tzipi Livni.
The last meeting between Olmert and Abbas on August 6 led to the release by Israel of nearly 200 Palestinian prisoners as a confidence building gesture.
Meanwhile, the Islamist movement Hamas currently running the Gaza Strip accused Abbas of participating in a US-Israeli plot to eliminate it from the West Bank.
Hamas said the pro-Abbas force forces in the West Bank on Saturday continued their crackdown against Hamas supporters, arresting nine of them.
"The campaign that Hamas faces in the West Bank comes in the context of a joint plan between Abbas, Zionist premier Olmert and the US administration to pass a frame agreement," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri Siad, referring to Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Such an agreement he said "would serve the hopes and ambitions of the US administration and the Zionist occupation at the expense of the Palestinian people's hopes."
Earlier Saturday Egypt opened its border with the Gaza Strip to allow stranded Palestinians and Egyptians to cross in two directions, Palestinian security sources said.
Five busses left the Gaza Strip through Rafah crossing when its gates were opened Saturday and one bus entered the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, the sources added.
The crossing will remain open until late Sunday, the Interior Ministry of the Islamist Hamas movement that rules the Strip said, adding the gesture was intended to ease the suffering of stranded people prior to the beginning of Muslim's holy fasting month of Ramadan in early September.
Some 150 Egyptians, who have been stuck in Gaza since January, will return home in addition to hundreds of Palestinians who live outside Gaza, according to Ihab al-Ghussein, spokesman for the ministry.
In total, 1200 people are expected to pass through Rafah crossing Saturday and 400 Palestinian patients will leave for medical treatment in Egypt tomorrow, al-Ghussein explained.
Hamas security forces took measures to prevent the flow of tens of thousands of Palestinians to the crossing, setting checkpoints to allow only the patients and the stranded residents of foreign countries.
The Rafah crossing was completely closed last year when Hamas routed the security forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and ousted his Fatah movement.
According to a US-brokered protocol, the crossing cannot open without the presence of pro-Abbas forces and European Union monitors. Hamas demands to control the crossing instead of the Palestinian presidential guard forces, while the EU monitors do not recognize the Islamic movement.

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