Abbas conditions resumption of talks on ceasefire

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday conditioned a resumption of peace talks with Israel on reaching a ceasefire in fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants.

“Certainly the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations must be resumed, but after reaching calm,” he told reporters, a day after meeting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who urged him to resume the negotiations.

Abbas froze statehood talks with Israel on Sunday in protest at an Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip that killed more than 120 Palestinians. Medical workers said about half of those killed were civilians.

Israel ended the five-day offensive on Monday but threatened to send troops back into the Hamas-controlled territory if cross-border rocket attacks continued. It mounted air strikes and a brief ground raid on Tuesday.

A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Wednesday that Israel would not have to carry out military action if the shooting stopped.

Reporting by Ali Sawafta and Mohammed Assadi, Writing by Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem, Editing by Janet Lawrence