Abbas urged Israel to halt attacks and to free Palestinian prisoners

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas accused on Sunday the Israeli government of obstructing the redeployment of Palestinian national security forces in the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Gaza Strip. On Friday, more than 3,000 Palestinian security officers were redeployed in the area between Gaza City and the northern area of the Gaza Strip, where there was an obvious drop of rockets attacks carried out by Palestinian militants against Israel."We hope that the Israeli government would positively respond tothe serious Palestinian actions by accepting a continuation of &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Palestinian security forces redeployment in the entire Gaza Strip," said Abbas, as Xinhua News reported.

According to the Daily Star, Mahmoud Abbas was confident Sunday that the armed factions would soon call a formal cease-fire as Israeli Prime Minister &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Ariel Sharon acknowledged a respite in rocket attacks from Gaza. While militant groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad expressed a willingness to halt attacks if Israel made a reciprocal move, sources close to their talks with Abbas over the last five days said a "cooling down" period was already in place.

"The Palestinian national dialogue has made very significant progress and we will reach an agreement concerning this cease-fire very soon," Abbas told Palestinian state television. But Abbas also urged Israel to show flexibility by calling a halt to its military operations and freeing Palestinian prisoners.

"There are also responsibilities on the Israeli side," he said. "They should put an end to attacks against our people and cities and villages, stop going after our wanted people, return people who have been deported to their home towns and give priority to the prisoner issue."

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