Abbas expects ceasefire deal soon

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas has said he expects to reach an agreement with Palestinian resistance fighters next week that will include a formal halt in the four-year uprising.

    Abbas slammed Israel's deadly West Bank raid on Thursday

    Egypt, which has been mediating talks for several years

    between the Palestinian Authority and resistance groups, has

    invited Abbas and 13 resistance groups to Cairo next Tuesday.

    The talks have focused on a ceasefire declaration halting

    the uprising against Israel and spelling out a formal role

    in Palestinian affairs for Hamas and other opposition

    groups. The parties are also expected to discuss the future

    of the Gaza Strip following Israel's planned withdrawal

    this summer.

    "I expect this meeting in Cairo will conclude all the

    efforts that have been made by the Egyptian brothers,"

    Abbas said in Gaza City on Thursday, adding that he will

    personally participate in the gathering.

    "God willing, we

    could have a declaration," he said.

    Israel and the Palestinians have been observing an

    informal truce declared by Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister

    Ariel Sharon on 8 February. But sporadic violence has

    persisted, including a 25 February bombing in Tel Aviv

    that killed five Israelis.

    Israeli raid

    Abbas' announcement on Thursday coincided with a raid by Israeli troops on the West Bank home of a

    suspect in the Tel Aviv bombing which resulted in his death

    Since the

    bombing, Israel has stepped up pressure on Abbas to take

    tougher action to disarm fighters. It also has frozen

    plans to hand over security responsibilities to the

    Palestinians in five West Bank towns.

    Abbas criticised the Israeli raid, saying it makes it

    harder for him to ensure the quiet. "

    Quietness is required from us. At the same time, it is

    also required from the Israelis and the Israelis must not

    carry out these actions," he said.

    He conceded that once Palestinian security forces take

    over in the West Bank, they may not be able to prevent

    every act of violence but promised a sincere effort to

    preserve calm.

    "The Palestinian Authority cannot achieve 100%

    success, but we can achieve 100% effort," he said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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