RAMALLAH Ñ The Palestinian Authority seeks to extend a
truce by insurgency groups in the war against Israel.
PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas has been meeting with leaders of a range
of Palestinian insurgency groups in the Gaza Strip over the last two days.
Officials said Abbas wants an agreement to extend the truce declared by the
groups on June 29.
"We should send a strong message to those who are trying to hurt us that
the [Israeli] military is not the solution," PA minister Saeb Erekat said on
Wednesday. "We should concentrate on implementing the roadmap [for a
Hamas and Islamic Jihad have declared a three-month truce in the war
with Israel, which expires on Sept. 29. The ruling Fatah movement has
expressed commitment to a six-month truce.
All of the Palestinian groups have claimed responsibility for scores of
shootings, suicide bombings and other attacks against Israeli civilian and
military targets over the last seven weeks. The groups have said that they
were responding to what they termed Israeli violations of the ceasefire.
Assuming the unassumable
Those who believe that an unplanned, random "Big Bang" explosion of unknown matter caused the formation of the numberless bodies of the cosmos have more faith that fanatics. They also conveniently ignore some obvious points of information: Read on . . .
Hamas and Jihad have threatened to renew the war against Israel unless
it releases all Palestinian detainees. Israel has released more than 500 of
the nearly 7,000 Palestinians being held by Israel.
Abbas met Jihad leaders on Tuesday in Gaza City and was preparing to
meet Hamas representatives. In wake of the Hamas suicide bombing of an
Israeli passenger bus, Abbas canceled his session with Hamas and discussed
the attack with U.S. officials.
Later, Abbas ordered an investigation of the Palestinian suicide bombing
in Jerusalem. Palestinian sources said the prime minister also suspended his
dialogue with Islamic insurgency groups.
A senior PA official said Abbas does not plan a crackdown on insurgency
groups. The official said Abbas has also rejected a proposal by his security
aides to seize assets of Hamas and Jihad.
"Abbas's strategy is not to confront the armed groups," the PA official
said. "He doesn't see any political profit by becoming an enemy of Hamas or
Jihad, let alone his Fatah movement. In this respect, Arafat showed more
guts in 1996 [during a Hamas suicide bombing offensive]."
In Washington, President George Bush urged Abbas and the PA to dismantle
insurgency groups. Bush said Israel has not relinquished its demand for the
elimination of what he termed terrorist cells.
"I think that the Palestinian Authority needs to continue to work with
the United States and others who are interested in dismantling terrorist
organizations and ask for the help necessary so they can go and do what they
need to do," Bush said, "which is dismantle and destroy organizations which
are interested in killing innocent lives in order to prevent a peace process
from going forward."
Earlier, PA Security Affairs Minister Mohammed Dahlan warned Israel not
to launch an offensive against Palestinian insurgents. Dahlan said he would
guarantee that insurgents in the four West Bank cities designated for
Israeli handover to the PA would not return to attacks against the Jewish
state. But the minister rejected an Israeli demand that the insurgents be
Palestinian sources said insurgency groups have stressed to Abbas and
Dahlan that they intend to respond to each alleged Israeli violation
of the ceasefire with suicide and other attacks. Last week, Israeli security
forces killed Mohammed Sidr, the Islamic Jihad commander in the Hebron
region of the West Bank.