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Tuesday, 12 June, 2001, 19:51 GMT 20:51 UK
Hardliners disapprove of ceasefire plan
Hamas supporters burn an effigy of CIA chief George Tenet
Hamas believes the plan aims to divide Palestinians
By Kylie Morris in Gaza City

The decision of Palestinian negotiators to agree to the US ceasefire plan, albeit with serious reservations, is likely to draw harsh criticism from opposition groups within the West Bank and Gaza.

While the refusal of key elements of the plan will be welcomed, there is unlikely to be dancing in the streets at news of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's affirmative answer to the plan presented by the US Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet.

CIA chief George Tenet with Yasser Arafat in Ramallah
The Palestinians are not convinced
The proposal that Palestinian authorities round up and arrest militants, rejected by the negotiators, would not have met with co-operation in the territories.

And any delay in lifting the closure on the territories would also not have been accepted.

Similarly, the notion of a buffer zone around Israeli settlements, another idea rejected by the Palestinians, was seen by many as an attempt to shrink the Palestinian territories by stealth.

Sign of weakness

Still, for hardliners like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Mr Arafat's conditional acceptance of Mr Tenet's plan is interpreted as his surrender to Israel's coercion.

These groups want the intifada, or the uprising, to continue, and regard military struggle as a legitimate means for people under occupation.

They believe that Mr Tenet's intervention is aimed at stopping the intifada and creating divisions inside the Palestinian community.

But a Palestinian agreement to the plan might be viewed as a victory if it does ultimately result in the pullback of the Israeli military, a freeze on settlements and a step towards the resumption of final status negotiations.

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See also:

12 Jun 01 | Middle East
Annan heads to Middle East
06 Jun 01 | Middle East
CIA back centre stage in Mid-East
10 Jun 01 | Middle East
Analysis: Arab nerves over intifada
06 Jun 01 | Middle East
Viewpoint: Gazans fear for the future
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