Egypt tries to sell truce to factions

Gaza sources: Palestinians to demand guarantees that Israel would abide by ceasefire deal.

gaza gunmen 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
gaza gunmen 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Representatives of four Palestinian groups traveled to Cairo on Monday for talks with officials on Egypt's efforts to achieve a truce between the Palestinians and Israel. The Egyptians decided to invite the representatives to Cairo after Hamas agreed last week to a six-month truce that would first be implemented in the Gaza Strip and later in the West Bank. The groups that have been invited to the Cairo talks are Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). Islamic Jihad is represented by two of its Syria-based leaders, Ziad al-Nakhaleh and Imad al-Rifai, while the other groups dispatched representatives from the Gaza Strip. The PFLP team is headed by the organization's deputy secretary-general, Abdel Rahim Malouh, while the DFLP delegation is led by Ramzi Rabah, a senior member of the group. Sources in the Gaza Strip said the representatives would hold separate meetings with Egyptian General Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman over the next 48 hours. According to the sources, the groups were expected to declare their backing for Egypt's efforts to achieve a truce with Israel and would insist on reopening the Rafah border crossing. The sources added that the Palestinians would demand guarantees that Israel would abide by any truce and refrain from launching military operations in the Gaza Strip. They would also seek assurances that the truce would be extended to the West Bank within six months, the sources added. The decision to summon the Palestinian groups to Cairo came after Hamas leaders expressed fear that a truce with Israel would not be honored by other armed factions in the Gaza Strip. Moreover, Hamas does not want to be seen as having struck a separate deal with Israel and would prefer that any agreement include as many Palestinian groups as possible. Fatah is the only major group that has not been invited to the truce talks with the Egyptians. Fatah officials in Ramallah said there was no need for their participation because they fully supported Cairo's efforts and would not oppose any attempt to calm the situation. However, the officials said Fatah has warned the Egyptians against striking any deal with Hamas over the Rafah border crossing without consulting with the Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah. "We are following the talks in Cairo very carefully," the officials told The Jerusalem Post. "We have asked our ambassador in Cairo, Nabil Amr, to follow the talks and report back to us. Fatah must not be excluded from any arrangements over the Rafah border crossing."