Factions consider new truce with Israel

By
May 24, 2007 04:15

Aide to Haniyeh says any truce agreement must include the West Bank.

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Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas made a new push Wednesday to restore a cease-fire with Israel that collapsed under a barrage of Hamas rocket fire. The two leaders met for the first time since Hamas-Fatah fighting broke out two weeks ago and killed more than 50 Palestinians. The two sides reached a truce over the weekend, but tensions remain high because a key dispute over control of the security forces remains unresolved. Intensified Hamas rocket fire that accompanied the Palestinian infighting touched off a week of Israeli airstrikes that have killed more than 40 Palestinians, most of them militants. A Haniyeh aide, Ahmed Yousef, said a renewed cease-fire with Israel would have to be comprehensive, and include the West Bank in addition to Gaza. The previous truce, brokered in November, applied only to the Gaza-Israel border, and Israel rejected repeated Palestinian demands that it also halt arrest raids in the West Bank. "If it is going to be for Gaza only, then no one will be able to convince the Palestinian resistance factions to commit to that," Yousef said. The meeting ended with the two sides agreeing their factions would meet again. "We are working to recommit to the truce," Abbas aide Nabil Abu Rdeneh said. Haniyeh aide Ghazi Hamad said in a statement that the two leaders called on the international community "to protect the Palestinians and pressure Israel to stop the attacks." Israeli government officials weren't immediately available for comment because of the Shavuot holiday. Salah Bardawil, a Hamas spokesman, said Israel must stop its attacks if there is to be a cease-fire. "There is no room to talk about a truce while there is Israeli aggression and escalation," he said. Abu Hamza, of Islamic Jihad's military wing, said a truce should be conditioned on Israel's ending its attacks on terrorist groups, extending the cease-fire to the West Bank, and retracting threats to go after terrorist leaders.


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