Palestinian leaders said Saturday they would try to broker a new halt to attacks by Islamic and other groups and urged Israel to stop killing top activists.
Chances for a new cease-fire looked remote, however, and top Palestinian officials said privately they were unable to stop what looked set to be an all-out war between Israel and armed Palestinian groups.
After a Cabinet meeting in the West Bank town of Ramallah on Saturday, Information Minister Nabil Amr said any new cease-fire would have to include Palestinian groups and Israel.
"We can talk about a cease-fire, another truce, but we must have guarantees from Israel that it will cooperate. ... We are searching for a way to do that," he said, according to the AP.
Foreign Minister Nabil Sha’ath said a cease-fire only among Palestinian groups was not enough. "We want a hudna (truce) between all the Palestinian Authority and all its organizations and Israel," Shaath said. "We want a full stop to violence."
An Islamic Jihad spokesman in Gaza said Saturday his group did not object to the idea of renewed truce talks but said an agreement would have no chance as long as Israel is hunting Palestinian activists.
"We don't have any conditions for any new dialogue," said Nafez Azzam, the Islamic Jihad official. But, he added, "I doubt that Israel is going to respect any new commitment."
Israeli forces continued a stepped-up sweep for activists and weapons in the West Bank on Saturday. Tanks patrolled the town of Jenin.
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)