Hamas spokesman Abd al-Aziz al-Rantisi said the resistance group might be willing to limit attacks if Israel stopped harming Palestinian civilians.

He made the statement in response to efforts by Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Quraya to rein in resistance attacks to push forward the US-backed “road map” aimed at ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

“The issue that will be possible to be addressed (with the Palestinian Authority) is continuing the resistance to the  (Israeli) occupation while avoiding civilian casualties,” said al-Rantisi from a house in the occupied Gaza Strip.

One of many who have gone underground since Israel started to target the Palestinian resistance's political leadership, al-Rantisi had surfaced to give a rare interview.

“Resistance is a legitimate Palestinian right as we are under occupation," he told Aljazeera's correspondent.

Israel is demanding Quraya crack down on resistance groups, a move so far rejected by the Palestinian Authority for fear of sparking a civil war.

Quraya last week called on resistance leaders to discuss a ceasefire.

Lessons learned

The Palestinian premier had also been putting together a new cabinet mindful of his predecessor, Mahmud Abbas, who resigned in September after the collpase of a unilateral suspension of attacks he secured from resistance groups. 
   
“We are trying to help Abu Ala (Quraya) to avoid the failure of Abu Mazan (Abbas) by offering to stop attacks on civilians if the enemy accepts to do the same," al-Rantisi said.

Hamas says it won't give Israel the
benefit of another truce

In August Hamas and Islamic Jihad called off a unilateral ceasefire they had announced on 29 June after it had been routinely ignored by Israel.

Al-Rantisi's statement came as Israeli occupation forces stormed the West Bank village of Azun on Monday near the city of Qalqilya, following intelligence that a Palestinian resistance activist was planning an attack, according to Israeli military sources.

One Israeli source said that the man had started running
towards soldiers after being located but then blew himself up.

The man had been tracked by the the army and police for several hours as a heightened state of alert was imposed to the north of Tel Aviv.

No one else was injured in the blast. The teenager had been tracked for several hours, as a heightened state of alert was placed on the area north of Tel Aviv.

The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian President Yasir Arafat's Fatah faction, claimed responsibility for the blast. They named the would-be bomber as Sabih Abu al-Saud, a 17-year-old from Nablus.

Diplomatic front

In other news, a senior official travelling with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Ariel Sharon in Moscow said the premier may meet Quraya "within days". 

Palestinian sources also said that finance minister Salam
Fayad had met with Israel's Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz late last week, without giving details. 

Israeli media also reported that the head of the internal
security service Shin Beth had met with Arafat's national security advisor Jibril Rajub over the weekend. 

However, Rajub denied that he had met with Shin Beth's Avi
Dichter.