PALESTINIAN President Mahmoud Abbas today proclaimed a formal end to fighting with Israel after more than four years of bloodshed.
"We have agreed with (Israeli) Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to cease all acts of violence against the Israelis and the Palestinians wherever they are," Abbas said in a statement at the completion of a landmark summit with Mr Sharon in Egypt.
Mr Abbas's declaration was aimed at solidifying a tacit truce he coaxed from Palestinian militants shortly after he won election on January 9.
Mr Sharon was expected to proclaim a reciprocal end to Israeli military action against Palestinians in revolt.
While Abbas speaks of peace, the terrorist groups that freely operate within the territories have other ideas.
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Lebanese Hizbollah guerrillas are trying to recruit Palestinian militants for attacks on Israelis in order to sabotage Middle East peace efforts, senior Palestinian officials said on Wednesday.
"We know that Hizbollah has been trying to recruit suicide bombers in the name of al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades to wage attacks that would sabotage the truce," an official said about an armed group of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction.
Another official said intercepted e-mail communications and bank transactions suggested Hizbollah had raised its cash offers to militants, but it was unclear if this reflected a heightened desire to see violence flare up or a dearth of recruits.
"Now they are willing to pay $100,000 for a whole operation (suicide bombing) whereas in the past they paid $20,000, then raised it to $50,000," the second official told Reuters.
Not to be outdone, Hamas also joined the post-truce celebrations.
...Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip struck a cautionary note, saying the radical Islamic group, which has been responsible for hundreds of attacks against Israelis during the past four years, would evaluate the summit before committing itself to halting its campaign of violence.
"We agreed before with Mahmoud Abbas that if he succeeds to achieve our national goals, he should come back to the Palestinian factions to discuss the issue, and after that we will decide our stand," Mahmoud Zahar said.
Indeed. Hamas makes no bones about the fact it seeks the complete destruction of Israel - its charter outright proclaims it. Which is precisely the reason why this so-called truce will not work. Abbas can speak of peace all he wants but as long as he refuses to act against the murderous gangs that operate within the PA the truce means nothing. He knows all too well that the first time Hamas attacks Israel, the Israelis will retaliate. He can then lay the blame for the failure of the truce squarely on the shoulders of Israel. Let's also not forget that Palestinian terrorists have historically used cease-fires to rearm and regroup.
Until President Abbas demonstrates he is serious about achieving peace, it will remain an elusive dream.
[cross-posted to Rite Turn Only]
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