Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas has demanded that Israel stop its offensive in the Gaza Strip, but he says he is working hard to resolve the crisis over a kidnapped Israeli soldier.
Mr. Haniyeh said after Friday prayers in Gaza that the Israeli military offensive aimed at securing the soldier's release is complicating the situation.
Palestinian militants abducted the soldier in a raid on an Israeli military post on Sunday.
The United Nations Security Council is holding an emergency debate on the situation on Friday.
Mr. Haniyeh said today that he is working with foreign mediators on a compromise to free the captured soldier and halt Israel's offensive.
Israel, under international pressure, has delayed a ground incursion of Gaza, but it has continued air and artillery strikes.
White House spokesman Tony Snow said the U.S. is encouraged that the Israelis are, as he put it, standing down in Gaza, and that Hamas is talking about freeing the soldier.
In other news, the militant al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades has retracted a claim that it kidnapped a second Israeli soldier.
The Palestinian prime minister assured his people that the government is continuing to function, even though nearly a third of its cabinet ministers is in Israeli custody.
Israel on Thursday arrested more than 60 Hamas members, including eight government ministers, in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
In another development, Israel revoked the Jerusalem residency of four Palestinian lawmakers who are Hamas members. An Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev called the Hamas officials members of a terrorist organization.