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Palestinian factions agree on ceasefire, call for restored Palestinian unity

April 30, 2008 9:25 A.M. (Updated: April 30, 2008 9:25 A.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - Twelve Palestinian political and military factions have agreed in principle to accept a ceasefire with Israel.

However, Palestinian leaders agreed that any agreement should be bilateral, apply to both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and include an end to the siege of the Gaza Strip.

Leaders from a dozen minor factions are in Cairo this week meeting with Egyptian mediators. The talks will resume on Wednesday.

The Egyptian mediators are scheduled to resume on Wednesday a round of negotiations with 12 Palestinian factions hoping to reach a ceasefire agreement with Israel.

The Egyptian Al-Ahram newspaper quoted most of the Palestinian factions who took part in the talks as saying that they ceasefire should be immediately followed by Egyptian-supervised talks aimed at restoring Palestinian national unity. Some factions expressed reservations regarding the Hamas-proposed ceasefire, yet they affirmed they would not block a ceasefire agreement despite their reservations.

Mahir At-Tahir, a leader in the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), told the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television that the PFLP told Umar Sulaiman, the head of the Egyptian intelligence service, that they would not oppose any agreement that is beneficial to the Palestinian people.

At-Tahir also revealed that the PFLP's delegation met with Arab League Secretary-General Amr Mousa and suggested that he sponsor a dialogue between Palestinian rivals Hamas and Fatah based on a plan proposed by the PFLP. The PFLP has recently held talks with Hamas' leader in exile Khalid Mash'al in Damascus as well as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas while he was visiting Jordan.

For his part, the deputy secretary general of Islamic Jihad, Ziad An-Nakhala stated that his movement too would agree on a ceasefire on the condition that it is bilateral and extends to both Gaza and the West Bank. He told the press in Cairo on Tuesday that the Islamic Jihad will react "positively" with any efforts aimed at protecting the Palestinian people's interests.

Hamas has announced its readiness to accept a ceasefire that begins immediately in the Gaza Strip, and then expands to include the West Bank after six months.

Some Palestinian factions demanded that the span before ceasefire extends to the West Bank be three months only, while other factions insisted that ceasefire should apply to both Gaza and the West Bank immediately.

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