Gaza militants fired 15 mortars or rockets into Israel on Monday and Tuesday in an unexpected flare-up two years after Israel's devastating offensive on the Hamas-controlled coastal strip.
Israel's 10-month settlement freeze ends today, and the clock starts ticking on a Sept. 2011 deadline for a comprehensive peace agreement.
Rocket attacks near the Israeli towns of Sderot and Eilat have raised concerns of escalating Israel-Hamas tensions. But while Hamas could be a potential spoiler in peace talks, it also has an interest in avoiding a fresh clash.
After Netanyahu's visit to Washington on Tuesday, the US may pressure Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to drop his precondition for face-to-face talks with the Israelis: a permanent settlement freeze.
International pressure in the wake of the Israeli raid on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla has boosted sympathy for Hamas, the chief rival of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas's party and a longtime opponent of peace talks.
Emboldened by the Israel crisis with the US over East Jerusalem building plans, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is again insisting on 'a complete cessation of settlement activities' before renewed negotiations.
Israeli and Palestinian officials both had praise for President Obama, despite disappointment in peace process
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Sunday that Palestinians would reject anything rival Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas agrees to during this week's talks with President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.