Palestinian groups head to Cairo for truce talks

Leaders from three Palestinian groups headed to Cairo on Monday for talks with Egyptian intelligence officials on a possible Gaza Strip truce with Israel, Egyptian security and border sources said.

Palestinian groups head to Cairo for truce talks

They said senior members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Popular Resistance Committees and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine crossed from Gaza into Egypt via the normally sealed Rafah border.

The leaders then headed to Cairo via three buses in a security convoy, the sources said.

Hamas proposed a six-month truce between Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, with an option to extend it to include the West Bank. It would also include an end to the Israeli blockade of the Hamas-run coastal strip.

Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar said at the time that other Palestinian factions including Islamic Jihad and leftist groups based in Damascus had preliminarily approved the offer, which Israel has dismissed.

Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, Cairo's main contact with Hamas and Israel, had agreed to call Palestinian factions to Egypt to discuss the offer and ensure Palestinian consensus.

Egyptian security sources said each of the factions would meet with security officials separately on Tuesday and Wednesday, but a general meeting with all the groups together had not yet been set.

The sources said the talks would also focus on possibly re-opening the Rafah border.

Israel dismissed the Hamas truce proposal on Friday.

But Hamas said on Saturday it was waiting for an official Israeli response, and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said he would wait until Egyptian mediators met with Israeli officials to relay the ceasefire proposal before deciding how to react.

The Hamas offer, issued following talks with Egyptian mediators, departed from previous demands by the group that any ceasefire apply simultaneously in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank -- both territories where Palestinians want statehood.

Reuters

Last Mod: 29 Nisan 2008, 09:24
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