Hamas and Islamic Jihad on Thursday morning told Al Bawaba that a truce with Israel would be announced within days, while the Palestinian president Yasser Arafat reiterated earlier that a cease-fire would be declared within a few hours.
Hamas leader Abdel Aziz al Rantisi told Al Bawaba that his movement “has completed a series of internal dialogues and has formulated its stance regarding the truce - which will be announced in the coming days rather than the next few hours.” Rantisi attributed the delay to certain formalities within the movement, the leaders of which are now either in Gaza, the West Bank or in Israeli prisons.
In the same context, the announcements made by Islamic Jihad leader Nafez Azzam coincided with Rantisi’s statements. “We cannot confirm that a truce will be announced within the next few hours, but Islamic Jihad is considering the subject seriously. There have also been serious discussions between Islamic Jihad and other factions…and the announcement of a truce within days is not ruled out,” said Azzam, adding “there is also the problem regarding the guarantees which Israel should provide so that these efforts will succeed.”
The Islamic Jihad leader asserted that the truce is not a Palestinian requirement, and that the factions are “forced to accept out of their concern for both the suffering of the Palestinian people and the recent developments on the regional and international scene.”
In the meantime, Azzam called upon the international community to press the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon not to act against the truce. “Israel is behind the chaos in the region, and any party interested in the stability of the region should impose pressure on Israel. Palestinians - due to their willingness to sign the truce – have proven to the whole world that they are willing to give a chance for peace and stability in the area in spite of their grievances and the brutality of the [Israeli] attacks against them,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Arafat told press reporters that the truce has not been officially decided yet and that he “expected it to be announced within few hours.”
On another note, Rantisi - commenting on Bush’s recent statements regarding Hamas - told Al Bawaba “the statements made recently by the US president George Bush are hostile and reflect a Zionist mentality that is dominating the White House. Such statements also depict Bush’s low values, since he declared war against a movement defending its rights and seeking freedom for its people…where is that freedom which the US has been touting while Bush support the side of the aggressor?” Rantisi asked.
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