Abbas is close to seal a cease-fire agreement with the militants

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas left &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Gaza City on Monday for the West Bank after six days of talks with radical factions in a bid to persuade them to sign up to a truce, an official said.

After arriving in Gaza last Tuesday, Abbas said he would not leave until the factions had agreed to halt attacks against &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Israel. Despite hearty optimism, there has been no official announcement of any such truce.

"The Palestinian national dialogue has made very significant progress and we will reach an agreement concerning this ceasefire very soon," he said Sunday, writes the Turkish Press.

According to the Haaretz – Israel News, &to=http:// ' target=_blank>militant groups have agreed to temporarily halt attacks on Israel - a precursor to a formal truce agreement - to give Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas a chance to persuade Israel to stop targeting militants in return, Palestinian officials said Monday.

In the only serious incident Monday, soldiers shot a Palestinian in a no-go zone near the Karni crossing between Gaza and Israel, apparently planning to plant a bomb, Army Radio and the military said. On Jan. 13, Palestinian attackers killed five Israelis at the crossing.

Abbas said he was close to sealing a cease-fire agreement with the militants.

Abbas also said it is "essential" to end Israeli operations against the militants and urged Israel to free many of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners it is holding and pull its forces out of Palestinian towns and cities. He also demanded that Palestinians expelled overseas be allowed to return to their homes.

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