Hamas Denies Signing Up to 'Unilateral Ceasefire'

Hamas spokesperson says claims by senior PLO official of 24-hour ceasefire are false.

Dalit Halevi and Ari Soffer ,

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri

Hamas has rejected claims by Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Yasser Abed Rabbo, who claimed that both Hamas and Islamic Jihad had agreed to a unilateral ceasefire for at least 24 hours.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri retorted that the PLO and Palestinian Authority had nothing to do with facts on the ground, and said Hamas would examine any proposal for a relaxation of hostilities only once the international community had obligated Israel to do so first.

"We will not declare a unilateral ceasefire, during which the occupation would kill (our) children," Abu Zuhri declared. "There will be no such thing."

He added that if and when Hamas was ready to declare a ceasefire, they would do so themselves.

"The resistance will express its own positions, not Abed Rabbo," he fired.

The high-profile row between leading Hamas and PA figures highlights the strains between the two main Palestinian Arab factions despite the tenuous "unity government" deal signed two months ago.

Earlier Tuesday Abed Rabbo, who is a member of the PLO Executive Committee and a close confidante of PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, announced that a 24-hour ceasefire would come into force immediately and had received the approval of Hamas.

"After extensive calls and consultations with the brothers in Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian leadership announces on behalf of everyone the willingness for a ceasefire and humanitarian truce for 24 hours," said Yasser Abed Rabbo, Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

"We call on all Arab and international parties to support this ... and hold Israel fully responsible for the consequences of refusing it," he said, reading out a statement.

He also claimed that the ceasefire could extend for still longer, at the behest of the UN.

"There is also a suggestion from the United Nations to extend this truce for 72 hours and we are dealing positively with this suggestion," he said.