Hamas to attend Cairo talks

Hamas and other Palestinian groups plan to meet Egyptian officials to discuss Egypt's proposals to help stabilise Gaza after any Israeli withdrawal, says Hamas' top official in Lebanon.

    Hamas and other groups are to discuss Israeli plans for Gaza

    News that Palestinian resistance groups will gather in Cairo comes as a member of Hamas was killed in clashes with Israeli forces in Gaza on Wednbesday.

    "Hamas and other Palestinian groups will meet with the Egyptians in Cairo, though the date has still to be fixed," Osama Hamdan told Reuters in Beirut on Wednesday.

    Egypt has offered to help promote order in Gaza after a pullout, which the Israeli cabinet approved in principle on Sunday based on a plan put forward by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. 
     
    Hamdan said Palestinians did not want anyone to interfere in the way they planned to run Gaza after a pullout.
     

    Palestinian President Yasser Arafat said on Tuesday he had accepted the Egyptian proposals to help in Gaza, including reforms to Palestinian security forces. But the extent of reforms agreeable to him was not known.

    Israeli opponents of Sharon's pullout plan fear Hamas would take over Gaza in the event of a withdrawal and use it for attacks on the Jewish state.

    Ceasefire possible

    Hamas has said it could suspend attacks from Gaza if Israel quit the whole of the strip, but Hamdan stressed any withdrawal must be unconditional.

    "If Sharon wants to pull out of Gaza, let him pull out unconditionally," he said. "But if he wants us to pay a political price, we are not prepared to do so. If that is the case, let the resistance continue, and eventually he will be forced to pull out."

    Meanwhile, an armed member of Hamas was shot dead during clashes with the Israeli army in the northern Gaza Strip Wednesday evening, AFP reported.

    Walid al-Shur, 22, was killed during clashes with troops in the northern Beit Hanun area, Palestinian medics said, adding that another two people were also wounded.

    His death brings the toll since the September 2000 start of the Palestinian intifada, or uprising, to 4102, including 3111 Palestinians and 920 Israelis.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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