Palestinians Favor Expanded Truce

Palestinian resistance factions are ready to abide by any ceasefire that covers both the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank, a high-level Egyptian security delegation told Israeli officials.

Palestinians Favor Expanded Truce
Palestinian resistance factions are ready to abide by any ceasefire that covers both the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank, a high-level Egyptian security delegation told Israeli officials on Thursday, April 26.

"The Egyptian security delegation told the Israelis it was informed by the Palestinian factions they were ready to respect the truce and not carry on firing rockets and mortars on Israeli positions and towns," a member of the Gaza-based delegation told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

"The Palestinian factions demanded reciprocal respect of the truce and that it be applied equally to the Gaza Strip and West Bank," he added, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"They consider any Israeli attack on Palestinian people in the West Bank an aggression against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip."

The truce was reached by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last November to end a deadly six-month Israeli offensive that killed up to 400 Palestinians and injured hundreds.

However, Israel continued its aggressions against the Palestinians in the West Bank.

At the weekend, Israeli occupation forces gunned down nine Palestinians, prompting the resistance group Hamas to declare an end to the five-month truce.

No Rockets

A Hamas spokesman said that the resistance group would hold rocket fire "if Israeli incursions and aggressions stop."

"Rocket fire is a form of resistance invoked to confront the Zionist enemy and its aggressions," said Ismail Radwan.

Israel on Wednesday threatened large-scale operations against the Palestinians if rocket fire continued.

It has repeatedly rejected a ceasefire in the West Bank and went on with its onslaughts against Palestinian activists.

On Thursday, Israeli forces detained eight Palestinians in the northern occupied West Bank, including one suspected local leader of Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

Last November, Israel rejected a Palestinian offer to halt attacks against Israel in exchange for a cessation of Israeli onslaughts in the occupied territories.

The Palestinians want statehood in both Gaza and the West Bank, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East War.

Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 but said it plans to keep major settlements in the West Bank under any future peace deal, a vision rejected by Palestinians.

Calm Appeals

A senior UN official has appealed for calm in the Middle East, saying the rise in tensions between Hamas and Israel should not endanger diplomatic efforts for peace now underway.

"One concern that I have very much is that everybody does exercise restraint," said UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe.

"We think it's very important because there has been some forward movement on some of the issues in the last month ... and we very much would like to have that continue, therefore we have asked for the maximum restraint on all sides."

Pascoe expressed strong worries about the newest moves between Israel and the Palestinians in a meeting of the UN Security Council, noting that "political and diplomatic initiatives aimed at rejuvenating peacemaking in the Middle East have continued to evolve in a mostly positive fashion."

"However, the forward momentum we are witnessing on the political-diplomatic level is threatened by the deteriorating security situation on the ground, especially the continuing violence experienced by both Israelis and Palestinians."

British minister of state Kim Howells echoed his view that progress had been made before the newest outbreak of violence.

"We were delighted by the renaissance in Saudi foreign diplomacy... It's an important reawakening and it's had quite a galvanizing effect on people out there... I think it's very significant".
Last Mod: 27 Nisan 2007, 09:59
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