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Hamas Rejects American Proposal for Easing Israeli-Palestinian Tensions

  • VOA News

The Islamic militant group Hamas has rejected a US proposal aimed at reviving prospects for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

At a rally Friday in Syria, exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal called on all Palestinian groups to prepare for battle against Israel.

He said the American plan was a formula that would have Israeli roadblocks lifted in exchange for the end of Palestinian resistance.

The plan calls for Israel to ease travel restrictions at West Bank and Gaza crossing points, and for the Palestinians to take steps against arms smuggling and militant rocket attacks against Israel.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat gave an initial positive response Friday to the plan.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said some of the ideas were already being implemented, while others could not be carried out because of security concerns.

In the Gaza Strip on Saturday, Palestinian militants fired three rockets at southern Israel, damaging a building in the town of Sderot.

Islamic Jihad said the attack was to avenge the deaths of three militants killed by the Israeli army Friday near the West Bank town of Jenin.

In other news, Palestinian Foreign Minister Ziad Abu Amr said he urged visiting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier to work toward the unfreezing of international aid to the Palestinian government.

Steinmeier, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, met in the West Bank today with Palestinian officials, including moderate President Mahmoud Abbas.

Hamas, considered a terrorist group by the United States, joined a unity government with Mr. Abbas earlier this year in a bid to end the sanctions that have crippled the Palestinian Authority.

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