Quraya strives to break truce deadlock

Palestinian officials are seeking ceasefire talks with resistance groups after Egyptian-brokered efforts to secure a comprehensive truce stumbled.

    Members of 12 Palestinian factions met for four days

    The groups agreed to halt attacks within Israel and to “spare civilians” as long as Israel reciprocated the gestures and fulfilled conditions.

    But on Monday members of Palestinian President Yasir Arafat’s Fatah faction said they would try to persuade resistance movements to change their stance. 

    Hamas, Islamic Jihad and three other Palestinian factions on Sunday rejected an Egyptian proposal that would have halted all anti-occupation attacks.

    Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath insisted that there was "a general readiness" for a truce. Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Quraya would meet the Israelis to see if they were willing to reciprocate and halt military actions, said Shaath. 

    The foreign minister said that the resistance groups had told Quraya to "go continue your negotiations with the Israelis, if you feel they are ready to reciprocate, come back."

    Palestinian delegates said further talks also were planned among Palestinian factions, but no date was set.

    The Cairo talks, which ended on Sunday, brought together 12 Palestinian factions in an effort to halt all anti-occupation attacks and build a unified stance. They were also aimed at kick-starting the US-backed “road map” trying to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.  
     
    Quraya abruptly left the Cairo talks when it became clear he would not secure an absolute halt to attacks, seen as a bargaining chip during upcoming talks with his Israeli counterpart Ariel Sharon.

    Concessions

    Hamas, which is spearheading the Intifada, said it was willing to halt attacks against civilians in Israel, but it would continue striking Jewish settlers and soldiers.

    Nafiz Azzam, a spokesman for the Islamic Jihad in Gaza, said the groups would not go along with a comprehensive truce without Israeli guarantees to also halt invasions. He noted a ceasefire initiated by Palestinians in June fell apart when Israel kept up attacks. 

    Hamas wants Israel to halt raids
    before agreeing to a truce 


    "It was difficult for us and other factions to accept a new truce without guarantees from the Israeli side, because the previous truce failed in the same way," he said. 

    Azzam said neither Quraya nor Umar Sulayman, the Egyptian intelligence chief who mediated the talks, presented any Israeli guarantees.

    A senior Israeli official said it was possible for the sides to observe an unspoken truce.

    “We are not looking for any new promises or signed documents. These don't mean anything. What counts is the test of performance," the official said.

    Hamas, along with four other factions, wants Israel to fulfil three conditions, including lifting crippling blockades around Palestinian cities and towns, ending raids and house demolitions in the occupied Palestinian territories and freeing all detainees being held in Israeli prisons.

    Raid

    Even as Palestinians met to find a way to peace, Israel continued its invasions.

    Occupation forces, backed by 20 military vehicles, launched an invasion at dawn on Monday in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, reported our correspondent.

    Fighters from al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed offshoot of Fatah, and Islamic Jihad's al-Quds Brigades clashed with Israeli forces, who raided homes under the pretext of searching for wanted activists.

     

    SOURCE: Reuters


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