Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas opened the second day of negotiations in Cairo with Arab terrorist groups with a problem on his hands: how to convince Hamas, a radical Islamic terror group that does not recognize Israel, to sign on to the cease-fire he’s trying to broker among the various terrorist factions.



Hamas spokesman Mohammad Nazzal said yesterday, “The Hamas organization believes it is not possible to declare a full cease-fire at this stage of the talks.” He said a “cooling down” period of a few months might be attained, but rejected “a long-term truce.”



Recognizing the difficulty of presenting a unified position among terrorist groups, Abbas said yesterday at a speech opening the talks, “It is impossible for us to take upon ourselves the implementation of our commitments in a unilateral fashion."



But he was also quick to point a finger at Israel, accusing it of reneging on commitments to the PA: “We reject Israel reverting to its policy of procrastination, and as we are making progress towards quiet and a truce in the interests of our people, we ask that Israel fulfill its commitments.”



Abbas has long said that the armed struggle against Israel was bad strategy for the Palestinian Authority and its cause. He himself, however, served as treasurer of the PLO and helped secure funding for attacks such as the massacre of the Israeli athletes in Munich in 1972.



Another contentious issue in the Cairo talks is “right of return” for Arabs who fled Israel in the 1948 Independence War. Abbas has reportedly taken the position that individual Arabs would be allowed to reclaim their homes in Israel, but the majority of those who claim the right to "return," numbering in the millions, would be given the right to live in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, and to receive compensation from Israel.



The major issue that is important to Israel and the Bush Administration is not being discussed in Cairo, however: disarming and dismantling the terrorist factions.



Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has stated that a cease-fire among the PA terror groups would not be sufficient for resuming permanent status negotiations with the PA. United States President George W. Bush has conditioned American support for a Palestinian state on the PA fighting terrorism.



The Roadmap plan specifically states, "Palestinians declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere. Rebuilt and refocused Palestinian Authority security apparatus begins sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. This includes commencing confiscation of illegal weapons and consolidation of security authority, free of association with terror and corruption."

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