He said that the main Palestinian factions, including the governing Hamas, president Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah and other smaller groups had agreed the ceasefire offer during a meeting with Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian prime minister.

Offer limited


Habib said a deal would only take effect after Israel agrees and actually ends military actions. The offer was limited only to rocket firing and did not include other forms of attacks such as cross-border attacks and suicide bombings.

"... there is a position supporting calm [a ceasefire] by stopping rocket fire in return for an end to the aggression against our people in Gaza and the West Bank."

Khader Habib, Islamic Jihad leader

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Miri Eisin, an Israeli government spokeswoman, said that the Palestinians had to act first.

"Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other groups have chosen to fire rockets into Israel day in and day out. Israel will continue to defend its citizens against the rockets and will only stop its actions once those who fire, store and make the rockets and those who smuggle in their components cease their actions," she said.

Habib said that Haniya would take the proposal to Abbas in the hope that the president would then put it to Israel.

"If the Israelis agree then the deal will be ratified by all parties. The implementation of the agreement will be pending on whether we will see an end to the aggression on the ground," Habib said.

On Wednesday, the Israeli government decided to press on with a five-month-old offensive launched after militants seized a soldier in a cross-border raid from the Gaza Strip last June.

More than 380 Palestinians have been killed since the offensive began.