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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

January 19, 2003

No change in this
Hamas urges mutual halt to attacks on civilians


Hamas is ready to halt attacks on Israeli civilians if Israel stops harming Palestinian civilians, an official of the Islamic radical movement said as it prepared for renewed talks with other Palestinian factions in Cairo.

"Hamas rejects a halt to the resistance and rejects the truce which has been proposed," Ossama Hamdan said, during a visit to Lebanon before heading to Cairo for the talks.

"However, Hamas is sticking by its proposal formulated a year ago by recommending an end to attacks on civilians on both sides," Mr Hamdan said.

Hamas would "stop attacking Israeli civilians without distinction for geographic boundaries" if Israel stops attacking, killing, and arresting civilians and blockading their towns and villages, he said.

However, he said Hamas does not consider settlers to be civilians.

The armed branch of Hamas has claimed responsibility for an attack Friday local time on a rogue Jewish settlement outpost in the West Bank that left a settler and the two attackers dead.

Mr Hamdan said the meetings between Hamas and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction would resume in Cairo on Wednesday and they would be followed two days later by a meeting including other Palestinian factions.

Egypt hosted talks in November between Hamas and Fatah, followed by talks involving other Palestinian factions in December, to harmonise their policies, and secure an agreement to end attacks.

These meetings aimed to "unite Palestinian ranks." Mr Hamdan said.

"Any decision taken under pressure is useless," he said, alluding to an Egyptian appeal for a temporary halt to anti-Israeli attacks.

"Hamas officially informed Egypt of its final answer: our position is against ending the resistance and abiding by a one-year truce," senior Hamas official Abdelaziz Rantissi said in Gaza on Friday.

"Operations inside Israel will continue," he said.