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January 23, 2005
Abbas Gets Hamas And Islamic Jihad On Board: Guardian

New Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has reached an agreement with all three major terrorist organizations in the West Bank and Gaza to commit to a cease-fire if Israel halts counterterrorist activity in Palestinian areas, according to the Guardian (UK). Abbas warns that the agreement will not hold long if Israel does not agree to its terms:

Hamas and Islamic Jihad have agreed to suspend attacks on Israel in order to give the new Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, time to secure international guarantees for a comprehensive ceasefire that would end more than four years of intifada. Mr Abbas told Palestinian television yesterday that it was "essential" that Israel reciprocate by ending its targeting of armed Islamist groups. He said he had made "significant" progress in talks with Hamas and Islamic Jihad and expected to reach a comprehensive agreement with them soon on an array of political and security issues that would effectively end their war on Israel.

Mr Abbas's principal negotiator with Hamas, Ziad Abu-Amr, yesterday said the armed Islamist factions pledged to hold off from attacks while the Palestinian leader attempted to secure assurances of Israeli reciprocity, and negotiates final terms of a deal to bring the groups into the political process.

"There is a Palestinian tranquillisation. This is a Palestinian initiative intended to be a prelude to a ceasefire but there have to be conditions for a ceasefire," said Mr Abu-Amr. "There has to be reciprocity [from Israel] and that means no attacks on Palestinians, no incursions or chasing militants."

This report follows the breathless announcement earlier that the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade agreed to suspend attacks -- a strange development, since they report to the same Fatah organization that Abbas now runs. The Guardian report has some promise for a positive turn in the stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians, if true. Usually, only one or two of these organizations will agree to a cease-fire, allowing the third to attack and all three to blame Israel for the failure of diplomacy when Israel retaliates.

Until the cease-fire actually occurs, however, I'll treat this story just like the occasional Zarqawi capture rumors: interesting enough to report about, but far too unreliable to count on.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 23, 2005 8:49 PM

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Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has apparently reached an agreement with Hamas and Islamic Jihad:Hamas and Islamic Jihad have agreed to suspend attacks on Israel in order to give the new Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, time to secure international ... [Read More]

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