Israel assures U.S. it will honor ceasefire

Special to World
Thursday, December 18, 2003

GAZA CITY Israel has guaranteed that it will honor any Palestinian ceasefire accord.

Palestinian sources said the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon relayed assurances that the Israeli military would be restrained from major operations or strikes against insurgents in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The sources said the assurances were relayed to the United States, which has tried to arrange for an end to the more than three-year-old Israeli-Palestinian war.

The Israeli government assured the Bush administration that the Jewish state would not target the leadership of Palestinian insurgency groups, the sources said. But the Israeli assurance was said to have been based on an end to major Palestinian attacks.

On Thursday, Israeli special operations forces killed four Palestinians during a clash in the northern West Bank city of Nablus. The Israeli operation in Nablus and the neighboring refugee camp of Balata was meant to foil plans to launch suicide attacks in the Jewish state. Two would-be suicide bombers were also said to have been captured.

Egypt has launched an effort to win agreement from 12 Palestinian groups to honor a ceasefire with Israel. An Egyptian security delegation met in Gaza City with leaders of Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in what was termed an effort to continue efforts begun in Cairo earlier this month.

The head of the Egyptian delegation, Gen. Mustafa Bahiri, said the Israeli pledge to honor the ceasefire has been confirmed by the United States. Bahiri said his superior, Egyptian intelligence chief Gen. Omar Suleiman, plans to arrive in Ramallah next week to complete preparations for a ceasefire with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat.

But the sources said the Israeli pledge and the U.S. guarantee to honor the ceasefire did not result in agreement by Palestinian insurgency groups. They said Hamas and Jihad have raised other terms for a ceasefire.

The Islamic terms include the Israeli withdrawal from territories in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip deployed by Israeli military forces since the Israeli-Palestinian war began in September 2000. Other conditions demand an end to Israeli raids of Palestinian communities, the removal of roadblocks and the demolition of unlicensed Palestinian buildings.

"There is a Palestinian consensus that there will not be a ceasefire unless there is a clear political price," Jihad spokesman Mohammed Hindi said.

Print this Article Print this Article Email this article Email this article Subscribe to this Feature Free Headline Alerts
Search Worldwide Web Search Search WorldTrib Archives

See current edition of

Return to World Front Cover