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Palestinian Militants 'Ready for Cease-Fire' With Israel

Members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a key Palestinian militant group, say they are ready for a cease-fire with Israel.

The militants, who spoke with reporters in Gaza City Saturday, said they represent a local branch of the al-Aqsa group, not the entire faction, which operates dozens of armed squads of fighters. However, the announcement is seen as another signal that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is making progress in persuading armed groups to halt their attacks.

Al Aqsa, which has ties to the Fatah movement once led by Yasser Arafat, has killed hundreds of Israelis during more than four years of fighting.

Palestinian President Abbas, who assumed leadership of Fatah following Mr. Arafat's death two months ago, has been meeting with militant leaders in Gaza for several days, trying to arrange a truce.

Israel has threatened a major military offensive unless all attacks by the militants in Gaza stop. However, the head of Israel's National Security Council, Giora Eiland, says military operations against Palestinian militants would be reduced if there are movements toward a truce.