Palestinians fail to agree ceasefire

28 January 2003
Palestinian factions concluded their meeting in Cairo on 27 January without agreeing to the Egyptian proposal of a ceasefire on attacks against Israelis, but promising a formal response on 4 February - after the Israeli elections. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who is expected to win the 28 January poll comfortably, has stepped up Israeli army operations against Palestinian targets in recent weeks, in what Palestinian leaders have denounced as an election ploy. A raid on Gaza City on 25 January left 12 Palestinians dead. The Egyptian talks were organised by Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who commands wide respect among Palestinian groups. However, both Hamas and Islamic Jihad said before discussions began that they saw no reason to cease attacks against Israelis while their occupation of Palestinian areas continued. The 12 factions are reported to fall into three camps on the ceasefire proposal - those who accept it unconditionally, those who are willing to stop attacking Israeli civilians within Israel, and those who would only accept the proposal if a reciprocal guarantee was received to stop the 'targeted killings' of suspected Palestinian militants.

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