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Israel-Palestinians 4thLd-Writethru 10-26

Israeli army soldiers escort a detained Palestinian as they arrive on the border with Israel and the Gaza Strip following a military operation Friday.

Israeli leader promises

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised the Palestinian president Friday that Israel would not cause a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip despite his government’s intention to cut power to the territory in hopes of curbing rocket attacks.

He made the pledge during a working lunch with Mahmoud Abbas at the Israeli leader’s Jerusalem residence, responding to Abbas’ concern that electricity stoppages could hit hospitals and other essential services, Israeli and Palestinian officials said.

The meeting was the latest in a series aimed at working out differences between the two ahead of a U.S.-sponsored peace conference. The men greeted one another with warm handshakes and broad smiles. Aides say Olmert and Abbas have good chemistry, but talks between them are so far showing little evidence of progress.

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The plan, approved Thursday by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, is to cut electricity for an initial 15 minutes after a rocket attack, gradually increasing the length of outages if attacks continue. Gaza is ruled by the Islamic militant Hamas, while the more moderate Abbas runs the West Bank.

Palestinians in Gaza fired at least eight rockets and 10 mortar rounds into southern Israel Thursday and another five rockets on Friday, the military said. No damage or casualties were reported.

There was no disruption of power to Gaza, but Israeli forces continued operations against militants there.

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