The Palestinian resistance group Hamas could soon suspend attacks against Israel, a senior member has said.
Mahmud al-Zahhar, a Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, said on Thursday Hamas would enter negotiations with Fatah about attacks against Israel, probably next week.
"If the Israelis stop their aggression against our people, I think through the negotiations we can reach a final agreement," al-Zahhar said.
He made his comments after meeting interim Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas in Gaza City. Others present were Said Siam, another key Hamas leader, and two senior Gaza-based officials of Fatah, Zakaria al-Agha and Samir al-Mashharawi.
Hamas has called on its members to boycott Palestinian presidential elections on 9 January but, according to Fatah officials who attended the meeting, al-Zahhar indicated his willingness to work with the new Palestinian administration.
Asked about his group's view on the last-minute decision of jailed West Bank Fatah leader Marwan al-Barghuthi to stand in the election as an independent, al-Zahhar said Hamas had "no wish to interfere in the internal business of Fatah".
Meanwhile, Palestinian minister of works and senior member of Fatah Azzam al-Ahmad, reacting to al-Barghuthi's decision, said: "Fatah is stronger than one imagines. It has withstood jolts stronger than this in the past."
Fatah said it did not consider
al-Barghuthi's candidacy a threat
He added that Fatah is greater than its leaders and, according to the movement's internal bylaws, it is not a party but a Palestinian movement.
He also said that many of its leaders had come and gone and been forgotten by history, so, although there was sorrow at losing al-Barghuthi, the movement did not feel threatened.
"We were hoping that al-Barghuthi would stick to the movement's decision and not act individually," al-Ahmad said.
By deciding to contest as an independent, al-Barghuthi ceases to be a member of Fatah, he added.
"Fatah is stronger than one imagines as it has withstood jolts stronger than this in
Palestinian Minister of Works
When asked if al-Barghuthi's nomination would have a negative affect on Mahmud Abbas personally or on the election, al-Ahmad said: "Even if we lose one vote, it would still be a loss, but I think that Palestinians and Fatah would double their efforts to garner votes for Fatah's official candidate Mahmud Abbas."
On the elections, Kayid al-Ghul, political bureau member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), said the PFLP was one of the groups which favoured an election as the solution to get the Palestinian political system out of the current crisis and propel it on a path of reform.
However, the PFLP was disappointed over the manner in which the different sections of society and its needs have been accommodated in the democratic process, al-Ghul said.
Therefore it has not nominated any of its members to contest the presidential election, he said, adding that the PFLP would back any candidate who supports its vision.