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Abbas Says Ceasefire Deal to Take Effect
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday night that a comprehensive ceasefire between Hamas and Fatah would take effect at 23:00 (21:00 GMT) in the Gaza Strip.

"I pray to Allah that at 11:00PM tonight a complete and general truce would start in order to devote our time to our most important jobs and look into our affairs and our future," Abbas told a news conference after a ceasefire agreement was reached.

Clashes between Hamas and Fatah erupted after Abbas called for holding early presidential and legislative elections in the Palestinian territories on Saturday.

Abbas stressed that the door for forming a national unity government capable of ending "unjust siege" would be kept open.

He said that Palestinian police and security forces would deploy in the streets of the strip to restore calm, adding that the auxiliary force of the Interior Ministry would get back to its locations and posts.

He also confirmed that King Abdullah II of Jordan had invited both him and Prime Minister Ismail Haneya for talks to defuse the current crisis, adding "I positively accepted the invitation, but I don't know if Prime Minister Haneya would go."

Earlier in the day, Interior Minister Said Siam said that both President Abbas and Prime Minister Haneya agreed on a ceasefire agreement, which was sponsored by Egypt.

(Xinhua News Agency December 20, 2006)

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