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Abbas: Cease-Fire with Israel to Continue

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has pledged to continue the 16-month cease-fire with Israel.

Mr. Abbas spoke Saturday in Cairo after a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. He said the militant Islamic group Hamas did not break the truce earlier this week, although he said violations did happen.

He made the statement after Israel, overnight, carried out an airstrike in the Gaza Strip that killed two Palestinian militants.  Israel said the Palestinians were preparing to fire rockets at the Jewish state. 

Israeli officials have warned that continued rocket attacks on Israel will bring an intensified response.

In other news, a Palestinian official says rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas are nearing agreement on a document written by Palestinian prisoners. The document calls for a Palestinian state alongside Israel and implicitly recognizes the Jewish state.

Mr. Abbas has called for a referendum on the statehood plan.  Hamas controls the government and opposes the referendum. The factions have been meeting to iron out differences.

Media reports say they may also agree to turn over the Palestinian government to technocrats independent of Hamas. The handover could convince Western governments to resume aid to the Palestinian Authority.

Western nations have suspended their aid because Hamas refuses to recognize Israel and renounce violence. Hamas took power in March following Palestinian elections.

The cash-strapped government has been unable to pay the salaries of more than 100,000 alestinian civil servants. They staged protests this week that turned violent.

Earlier this week, Palestinian officials brought millions of dollars in cash into the Gaza Strip from Egypt in order to alleviate the crisis.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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