Hamas denies reports of year-long truce with Israel (Lead)

February 3rd, 2009 - 12:27 am ICT by IANS  

Beirut/Cairo, Feb 2 (DPA) Hamas representatives Monday denied they had agreed to a one-year truce with Israel.The Lebanon-based spokesman of the Palestinian movement Hamas, Osama Hamdan, reiterated the movement’s stance that there could be no long-term peace agreement before the Egyptian and Israeli blockade of Gaza was lifted, contradicting remarks made by a Gaza-based Hamas representative Sunday.

“As we said before, we want the siege to be lifted on our people in Gaza. Then we can talk about an agreement,” Hamdan told DPA Monday.

In remarks aired on al-Arabiya Sunday, Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said that a Hamas delegation now in Cairo would inform Egyptian officials that they would accept a one-year truce with Israel.

Hamdan’s remarks followed news that two Palestinians had been killed and five wounded in two incidents in the West Bank city of Hebron and in the southern Gazan town of Rafah Monday.

In Hebron, the Israeli military said soldiers killed a Palestinian man and wounded four others after the man opened fire on soldiers near a checkpoint.

Palestinian security sources denied that account, saying that the five Palestinians had probably been looking for work in Israel.

In Rafah, witnesses said an unmanned Israeli drone fired a missile at a motorist, killing one man and injuring another.

As violence continued in Gaza, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak, Prince Saud bin Faisal of Saudi Arabia, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit in Cairo to discuss establishing a lasting truce in Gaza.

Abbas had originally been scheduled to travel to the Czech Republic, but came to Cairo for urgent talks following what Abbas spokesman Nabil Shaath called “a breakthrough” in negotiations, Palestinian and Egyptian news agencies reported Sunday.

Egypt has been mediating talks between the Israelis and Palestinians on one hand, and rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah on the other.

In recent days, representatives of Hamas and Fatah have exchanged bitter recriminations over who should represent the Palestinian people.

“Abbas is blocking any attempt to make any dialogue on reconciliation between Palestinian parties a success,” Hamdan said.

While visiting a Cairo hospital where Palestinians wounded in the fighting in Gaza were being treated Sunday, Abbas accused Hamas of “taking risks with the blood of Palestinians, with their fate, and dreams and aspirations for an independent Palestinian state”.

Hamas has called for a new Palestinian coalition to replace the Palestine Liberation Organisation, saying that it no longer represents the Palestinian people.

Speaking to reporters in Cairo Sunday, Abbas swore there would be “no dialogue with those who reject the Palestine Liberation Organisation”.

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