Palestinian fighters attempted on Wednesday morning to blow up an Israeli outpost on the Israeli-Egyptian border, near Rafah. Two large devices went off near an occupation post. No Israelis were injured in the blast, but some damage was caused to the outpost. The Palestinians apparently dug tunnels which lead close to the outpost and then set the devices. Hamas has claimed responsibility for the attempted attack.
Also in Rafah, Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian youth, Palestinian security forces reported.
Egyptian-sponsored talks on a possible cease-fire ended in Gaza on Wednesday with Islamic Jihad saying that there would be a truce only with U.S. guarantees that Israel would hold up its end of the deal.
The group said it would only agree to stop attacks against Israeli civilians if Israel also agrees to end the violence. Islamic Jihad said it would not agree to an all-out truce at this stage.
Dr. Muhammed al-Hindi, a prominent leader of the Islamic Jihad said Wednesday after meeting with the Egyptians that the new message they brought was that the U.S. would give assurances to restore the situation that prevailed prior to the Intifada. However, he added that they won't believe these U.S. promises as long as the situation on the ground is not changed.
According to him, as quoted by one of the websites close to the Islamic Jihad, all factions agree there will be no truce without a halt of all Israeli aggressions, an end to the construction of the seperation fence and the release of all prisoners.
Meanwhile, another leader, Nafez Azzam said the Islamic Jihad has no faith in the American promises and its members should stick to resistance. He said the easing measures taken by Israel came following the pressure of resistance movements.
Speaking to Al Bawaba, Azzam said that “talks were held between the Egyptian delegation and leaders of the [Islamic] Jihad…they [the Egyptians] told us of the American guarantees but we do not think they are sufficient,” adding his movement reiterated to the Egyptian delegation their distrust of American promises due to their [US] bias in favor of Israel.
Azzam also stated that although his movement had rejected the guarantees, the movement had promised the Egyptians to give the issue more consideration, emphasizing the importance of a complete halt of Israel’s aggressive actions towards them. He also added that the talks focused on other issues as well including the relationship between the Palestinian factions and the Palestinian government.
In the meantime, Hamas indicated in the talks that it would be willing to stop attacks within the so-called Green Line 1967 border of Israel, but only if Israel promises to honor a cease-fire. Abdul Aziz Rantisi, a prominent Hamas leader, has asserted that “the movement [Hamas] has reiterated to the Egyptians its stance towards a new truce…we are unchanged since our declaration in Cairo.” Hamas has also refused to discuss any truce agreement while Israel’s aggression towards them continues.
Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer met separately Wednesday with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Jerusalem and Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, also known as Abu Ala, to discuss means of reviving the stalled peace process.
Fischer said after his meeting with Qurei that he had discussed ways to halt three years of Israeli-Palestinian violence, improve living conditions for Palestinian people and how to restart the so-called "road map" peace plan.
"When both parties and both (Israeli and Palestinian) Prime Ministers meet, I think this is a positive step," Fischer said. Qurei, for his part, said efforts are continuing to arrange a summit with Sharon but that a meeting still is not imminent. (Albawaba.com)
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