The Defense Minister's office rejected complaints by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert about Sunday's phone call between Amir Peretz and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
"There are no games of respect here and there is no space for condemnations. There was an opportunity for talks and we need to find every chance," Peretz aides said.
Peretz on Sunday afternoon demanded that Abbas use his authority in order to stop the firing of Qassam rockets at Israel.
Peretz appearing before Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee (Photo: Gil Yochanan)
"Israel will not tolerate the ongoing firing of Qassams at its territory," Peretz said during the conversation with the Palestinian president.
Olmert and Abbas aides were said to be planning to meet soon to discuss a possible summit between the two leaders.
Peretz aides said Monday: "The Defense Minister is not just responsible for giving orders to fire, but also to stop firing. Talks between the two were security oriented. They did not speak about policy, or about a political breakthrough. The defense minister will ask Abu Mazen (Abbas) to all that is within his presidential authority to stop the firing of Qassams for the good of both sides."
Olmert has been encouraged to meet with Abbas by the Bush administration, but talks over a possible summit have failed, among other things, because Abbas doesn't want to irk Hamas by agreeing to meet the Israel leader.
Plan for a meeting have also been hampered by the deadlock in talks on a possible prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas, which could secure the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in return for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.
Olmert said last week he is ready to meet Abbas without preconditions in order to discuss ways to implement the road map peace plan.
Olmert aides said initiatives by ministers to contact the Palestinian Authority could hamper efforts by the Prime Minister's Office to arrange a meeting between the two leaders.