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Palestinian authority to try to save ceasefire
Updated: 2005-06-14 09:40

The Palestinian Authority voiced its commitment on Monday to maintain a ceasefire with Israel after Palestinian militant groups signaled the truce was in jeopardy amid a flare-up in violence.

"Every effort should be exerted to sustain the quiet. But it cannot be sustained by one side only. Both sides should be committed to stop violence against one another mutually and simultaneously," said Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat.

Palestinian authority to try to save ceasefire
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas looks on during a meeting with Fatah movement members at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah June 13, 2005.[Reuters]
He said the issue would be "on top of the agenda" during a planned summit between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on June 21.

In a statement over the weekend, 13 Palestinian factions accused Israel of "non-compliance with conditions of calm," and said the Jewish state would be held "fully responsible" if a de facto truce they declared in March would collapse.

Militants in the Gaza Strip have stepped up mortar bomb and rocket barrages against Israelis in recent weeks in what they said were in response to "Israeli aggressions" and the army has targeted gunmen involved in such attacks and wanted militants.

In the latest flare-up, gunmen killed two Palestinian farmers and a Chinese worker last week in a mortar attack on a Jewish settlement in Gaza after Israeli troops shot dead a militant commander in the West Bank.

"Calm is now in danger because the conditions and demands for calm have not been implemented by the Zionist enemy, (who) continues to carry out the ugliest crimes against our people," said Mushir al-Masri, a spokesman for the Islamic group Hamas.

Palestinian authority to try to save ceasefire
Militants of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militia group linked to the ruling Fatah movement, practice jumping a wall during a training exercise in Gaza City, Friday June 10, 2005.[AP/file]
After declaring a truce with Sharon in February to end more than four years of violence, Abbas coaxed the 13 factions, including militant groups sworn to Israel's destruction, into agreeing to a "period of calm" until the end of the year.

Israel says non-violence is essential for carrying out its planned pullout from the Gaza Strip in August and that it could seize Palestinian towns in the area temporarily if gunmen carry out attacks during its evacuation of all 21 settlements.

The Palestinian factions said the truce could not continue unless Israel released all Palestinian prisoners, withdrew from West Bank towns and stopped all violence against Palestinians.

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