Several Palestinian factions have agreed, in principle, to a ceasefire with Israel. A Palestinian official said that Hamas and 11 small groups agreed in Cairo on Wednesday to proposals that include a six-month truce, a prisoner exchange and reopening of the border between Gaza and Israel.The truce, if implemented, will initially take effect in Gaza, with a view to being extended to the West Bank. Egyptian security officials mediated the talks with the factions, including Islamic Jihad.Israel will now be asked if it accepts the proposal.But Israel has already rejected a similar plan from Hamas, describing it as a ploy for it to gain time to regroup.


‘Some reservations’
Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, said the truce plan was “a huge step forward in terms of calming tensions between Israel and the Palestinians”.”Now, for the first time in a long time, we have a consensus across the political spectrum in Palestine that there would be a consolidation of a reciprocal ceasefire with Israel on the condition that it lifts the blockade of Gaza,” he said.Whatever reservations Israel has now need to be dropped, simply because Israel – at least [Israeli prime minister] Olmert’s government – can no longer continue to claim legitimacy while it is occupying the Palestinian territories.”Mena, the Middle Eastern and North African news agency, reported that some of the groups still had some reservations on the plan, despite a deal being reached.Naser al-Kafarnah, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), told Al Jazeera: “The armed groups of the Palestinian resistance movement have agreed on the Egyptian proposal.”We at the PFLP have pointed out several points that we are not with the ceasefire in principle as long as there is an occupation.”However, the PFLP will not launch any attacks that will affect the Egyptian proposal.”


No date set
Al-Kafarnah said that no date has been set as yet for the ceasefire to commence.However, a date could be set if Egypt manages to secure the acceptance of the deal by a majority of the Palestinian groups and presents it to the Israel.Amani Soliman, Al Jazeera’s Middle East analyst, said: “There are three or four major groups that the talks have been going on with.”But from these groups there are many splinter groups that are difficult to rein in … It’s these smaller groups that have agreed to this truce.”Soliman said that Hamas had been talking with the Egyptian authorities separately and agreed to a truce last week.


Up to Israel
The two deals will be taken to the Israeli authorities by the Egyptians in the next few days, Soliman said.”It will now be up to the Israelis to agree to the deal,” she said.Israel had said that Hamas’s agreement on a peace deal was simply a way for them to regroup and rearm.But Soliman said that there was the possibility that Israel could observe this new truce as it is a short-term cessation of hostilities.She said that because Israel is going to celebrate its 60th anniversary as a nation in the coming days, it would want peace during this time.


Gaza air raid
A Hamas activist has meanwhile been killed and three more people including a child wounded in an Israeli air raid in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, a Palestinian official said.Nafiz Mansur, 40, was killed near his house in Rafah, according to Muawiyah Hassanein, who heads the Gaza emergency services.Hassanein said a child was among the wounded, but did not give his age.The Israeli military confirmed it had carried out an air raid in Rafah but gave no further details.


Source: Al Jazeera and agencies