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Palestinian Factions Agree to Recognize Israel
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The rival Hamas and Fatah movements Tuesday completed an agreement over a plan that implicitly recognizes Israel, ending weeks of acrimonious negotiations, a top official said.

"We have an agreement over the document," said Ibrahim Abu Najah, coordinator of the "national dialogue" over the proposal.

Salah Zeidan, another negotiator, said preparations were being made for a formal signing ceremony. "All political groups are prepared for a mutual ceasefire with Israel," he said.

President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah has been trying to coax his Hamas rivals into endorsing the document, which was formulated by senior Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

He has endorsed the plan as a way to end crippling economic sanctions against the Hamas-led Palestinian Government and pave the way to reopening peace talks.

However, the deal was overshadowed by a crisis over the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier and opposition to the deal voiced by Islamic Jihad, a small militant group that has carried out numerous attacks against Israel.

"In today's meeting, we announced we reject some of the articles of this document and we have reservations about other articles," said Khaled al-Batch, spokesman for Islamic Jihad.

The plan calls for a Palestinian state alongside Israel, in effect recognizing Israel.

It also calls on militants to limit attacks to areas captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast War and calls for formation of a coalition Palestinian Government.

Israel has said the document is an internal Palestinian matter, but said it falls short of international demands that Hamas renounce violence.

(China Daily June 28, 2006)


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