The Cairo Meetings: Hamas Wants to Continue Attacks

(Ha'aretz) Danny Rubinstein - The 12 Palestinian factions are to resume their talks in Cairo but what's left to discuss? The Egyptians are pressing the Palestinians to continue the discussions and believe it is very important for them to reach a cease-fire with Israel before the outbreak of any war in Iraq. Hamas leaders have hinted to Egypt they have in effect already halted their suicide attacks. It has been 2 1/2 months since the last Hamas suicide bombing. One Hamas activist explained that they undertook other actions, but not suicide bombings, which are now done by Islamic Jihad and the Fatah-associated Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Khaled Mashal, head of the political wing of the Hamas, argued in Cairo that the attacks, particularly the suicide bombings, gravely damage the Israelis, and are contributing to its social and economic disarray. If Hamas decides to stop them, it must receive something in return, and that something has to be as big as possible. Hamas should keep the attacks in reserve after the war in Iraq, when it will be able to up its demands. Ahmed Qureia (Abu Ala), speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, recently met with Prime Minister Sharon. According to Palestinian sources, Sharon told him that Israeli policy will no longer take into consideration cease-fire declarations, and Israel does not believe in plans like "Gaza First" or "Judea First." Instead, Israel will act according to what happens on the ground in the territories. If terrorists stop coming out of a certain area, like Tulkarm or Hebron, the IDF will pull out of those areas and cease its activities in them. But it will go back into any area from which terrorists manage to export activities. In other words, the Israeli government will implement a cease-fire in those places where the Palestinians cease their fire, irrespective of various announcements and Palestinian politics. However, in one of the latest meetings of the Palestinian leadership, which dealt with the terror issue, PA Interior Minister Hani al Hassan, who is in charge of PA security forces, said he has been facing difficulties taking control over the attackers from Nablus and Jenin, and over the Qassam rocket and mortar cells in Gaza.

2003-02-17 00:00:00

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