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Palestinian Factions Reach Agreement on Conditional Cease-Fire

Palestinian factions meeting in Cairo have agreed to a conditional cease-fire with Israel.

Twelve Palestinian factions, meeting in Cairo since Thursday, have reached an agreement for a conditional cease-fire with Israel.

According to Hamas political bureau member Mohammed Nazzal, the Palestinian factions are ready to quit killing Israeli civilians if Israel agrees to stop military operations against the Palestinians.

"We declare that we are ready to avoid civilians," he said. "But we want to make it from both sides. It means also that the Israeli side should avoid our civilians, otherwise we cannot stop the military actions against civilians in the Israeli side."

The official said that under the agreement, Palestinian factions would reserve the right to kill Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers in the occupied territories.

According to Mr. Nazzal, the high-level meeting produced two additional agreements. He said the factions agreed that resistance is a national right, and that the three-year-old Palestinian intifada will continue until Palestinians get an independent state.

Published reports have indicated that senior Israeli officials have rejected the proposed cease-fire, saying all Palestinian hostilities must end before Israel would be willing to reciprocate.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia arrived in Cairo late Saturday in an effort to get the factions to agree to halt all attacks against Israel for a period of one year.

The prime minister was hoping to take such an agreement to the bargaining table with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who has demanded that his Palestinian counterpart take measures to end violence against Israel.

But several factions meeting in Cairo said they would not agree to a one-year cease-fire, unless Israel officially announces it is willing to do the same.