Page last updated at 14:08 GMT, Wednesday, 30 April 2008 15:08 UK

Palestinians agree Israel truce

Supporters of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, one of the groups that attended the Cairo talks
Palestinian factions say they want any ceasefire to be "balanced"

Twelve Palestinian factions have agreed to proposals for a truce with Israel, starting in the Gaza Strip, Egypt's state news agency Mena says.

It says the proposed ceasefire will be a "comprehensive, reciprocal and simultaneous truce", and will later be extended to the West Bank.

Fatah and Hamas, the two main rival Palestinian groups, did not attend the talks in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

Israel on Friday rejected proposals by Hamas for such a truce.

Israeli officials described the offer by Hamas as a ploy to gain time to prepare for more fighting.

But responding to news of Wednesday's agreement in Cairo Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said: ''Israel wants quiet in the South. For quiet to be sustainable, it must contain three vital elements: an end to all hostile fire from Gaza into Israel, an end to terror attacks and an end to the smuggling of weapons into Gaza. If this were to happen we could have quiet tomorrow.''

Truce conditions

The 12 smaller Palestinian factions backed the ceasefire proposed by Hamas after a series of meetings with senior Egyptian officials in Cairo.

Mena quoted an unnamed high-ranking Egyptian official as saying that the proposal included a "comprehensive, reciprocal and simultaneous truce".

The official added that it would be "implemented in a graduated framework starting in the Gaza Strip and then subsequently moving to the West Bank".

Egypt has been working to broker a deal that would include a six-month ceasefire between Israel and the factions in the Gaza Strip, an exchange of prisoners and the opening of Gaza's border crossing.

But the Palestinian groups want the truce to also include the West Bank.

"We are in favour of the truce, on the condition that it be balanced, reciprocal, equal and comprehensive, to include Gaza and the West Bank as well," Talal Nagy of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005, but it still controls the borders of the territory where Hamas seized control last year.

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