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Hamas to honor truce with Israel in new government

Hamas to uphold 'unofficial' truce with Israel after formation of unity government

AP , Tuesday 3 May 2011

Hamas officials said Tuesday that the Islamic militant group would honor an unofficial truce with Israel after forming a new government with Palestinian rivals from the West Bank.

Gaza's Hamas rulers and Fatah, which dominates the West Bank, are to sign a reconciliation agreement on Wednesday to end their four-year rift. A joint caretaker government is planned ahead of elections next year.

Relations with Israel will be a key issue. Fatah has sought peace, while Hamas refuses to recognize the Jewish state's right to exist. That won't change, but Hamas security officials said on Tuesday the militants have agreed to hold their fire after the new government is formed.

Except for a recent flare-up, Hamas has largely held its rocket and mortar fire on southern Israeli communities since Israel's January 2009 war in Gaza ended. Most of the attacks have been claimed by smaller factions.

An official from one of those groups, Islamic Jihad, said his group would not sabotage the current truce though it would respond to what he called "aggression against our people." All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the cease-fire is not expected to be officially part of the deal.

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