Hamas supporters 298.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Fatah and Hamas representatives are scheduled to meet in Cairo under Egyptian auspices on Saturday to discuss announcing a new truce with Israel and defusing tensions between the two parties.
Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post the Egyptians had been exerting heavy pressure on the factions to stop firing rockets from the Gaza Strip.
Three other Palestinian factions have also sent representatives to the Cairo talks.
"The Egyptians don't want the Palestinian groups to give Israel an excuse to launch a massive military operation in the Gaza Strip," said one official. "They are employing immense pressure on all the Palestinian factions to agree to a truce with Israel."
Another PA official said the head of Egypt's General Intelligence Service, Omar Suleiman, had proposed a plan that called for a one-month halt of rocket attacks as a first step toward a comprehensive cease-fire that would include the West Bank.
According to the plan, the Palestinians would halt rocket attacks for one month, after which Egypt would try to persuade Israel to stop its crackdown on Palestinian armed groups and Hamas figures in the West Bank.
Burhan Hammad, head of the Egyptian security delegation in the Gaza Strip, said the main topic at Saturday's discussions would be a truce with Israel and the Hamas-Fatah rivalry.
He said Hamas and Fatah leaders had sought Egypt's assistance in resolving their differences. "The two sides have asked for our help in ending the violence in the Gaza Strip," he said. "Egypt has always been willing to help in this regard."
Samir Mashharawi, a member of the Fatah delegation at the talks, said he and his colleagues had agreed with the Egyptians on ways of consolidating the latest cease-fire with Hamas.
He said the agreement called for the establishment of a special committee to supervise the truce between Fatah and Hamas.
The Fatah team, which has been holding talks in Cairo with Suleiman and other senior Egyptian government officials since the beginning of the week, is expected to meet with Hamas representatives on Saturday to lay the final touches on an agreement.
"We have agreed to hold a strategic dialogue with Hamas and other Palestinian factions to implement the Mecca Agreement [on a national unity government]," he said. "We have also agreed on the need to implement the security plan that was agreed upon between President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh."
Mashharawi said the talks with Hamas would also focus on the need to achieve a mutual and comprehensive truce with Israel and to resolve the case of kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Schalit. "We want to end this case as soon as possible to avoid a disaster for the Gaza Strip," he said.
Musa Abu Marzuk, a member of the Hamas delegation to the talks, said his movement and Fatah had not choice but to continue working together. "Neither Hamas nor Fatah can win this battle," he said. "We are one bird with two wings."
Abu Marzuk denied that Hamas's Executive Force was involved in the firing of Kassam rockets at Israel. "The Executive Force is a police force entrusted with enforcing law and order," he said. "The force belongs to the Interior Ministry, not Hamas."