RAMALLAH Ñ The Palestinian Authority has offered Israel what
officials term an unlimited and indefinite ceasefire.
PA officials said the offer was meant to end the Israeli-Palestinian war
and establish a so-called national unity government that would include Hamas
representatives. They said the PA plans to offer guarantees to maintain such
"There is a strong Palestinian wish to reach a cease-fire with the
Israelis," PA Information Minister Nabil Amr said. "But the only obstacle is
Israel, which is committed to the military road."
The proposal was drafted by PA National Security Adviser Brig. Gen.
Jibril Rajoub. Officials said Rajoub has relayed the proposal to both Israel
and the United States.
After the ceasefire, Rajoub said, Israel and the PA would enter
negotiations to reach a final settlement. Rajoub said Prime
Minister-designate Ahmed Qurei would also be given a mandate to conduct the
PA officials said Hamas has been urged to suspend suicide attacks in
Israel to facilitate efforts for a ceasefire. The officials said Hamas has
not formally agreed to the ceasefire proposal, but appeared willing to delay
operations against Israel.
[On Wednesday, the Fatah-aligned Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade announced that
its forces had killed an Israeli brigadier general who headed development at
the military's Engineering Corps. Israel did not respond.]
In August, a ceasefire declared by Palestinian insurgency groups
collapsed when Hamas bombed a crowded passenger bus in Jerusalem. Twenty-two
people were killed in the suicide attack.
The government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has dismissed the PA
offer. Israeli officials said the government continues to insist on a PA
crackdown on insurgency groups.
"This is not the type of ceasefire which may entice us to change our
policy," Justice Minister Yosef Lapid said. "The only way the Palestinians
can prove that they really want to have a peaceful solution with Israel is
taking up the fight against the Hamas and the [Islamic] Jihad. If they don't
do it, we have to do it."