Egypt calls peace in Gaza after militant pledge

Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday urged Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to exert pressure on Israel to halt its military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas also appealed to Mubarak to use his good offices with Hamas and other armed groups to force them to abide by the unofficial truce with Israel. Abbas arrived in Cairo earlier in the day for talks with Mubarak and senior government officials on the latest round of violence, triggered by last Friday's explosion of Kassam rockets during a Hamas rally in the Jabalya refugee camp.

The Egyptians have in recent months made intensive efforts to persuade armed Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip to honor the truce with Israel that was declared in Cairo earlier this year. Senior Egyptian intelligence officers have been in the Gaza Strip for several months now to prevent a collapse of the truce.

Palestinian officials said Abbas called on Egypt to boost its security activities in the Gaza Strip and to resume its efforts to ease tensions between the PA and Hamas. The Egyptians, they added, were now considering hosting another round of talks between the PA and various Palestinian factions to discuss ways of stabilizing the situation and containing the renewed violence, reports Jerusalem Post.

According to Reuters, Egypt has contacted the United States, the European Union and Russia for help in its efforts to persuade the Israelis and Palestinians to respect their commitments, it added.

Israel fired more missiles into Gaza and knocked out power to thousands of Palestinians on Wednesday in an offensive against cross-border rocket volleys by militants, two weeks after its withdrawal from the territory.

But no rocket launchings were reported during the day, after a pledge by militant groups to halt attacks condemned by the Palestinian Authority (PA) as harming the national interest.

With little prospect for progress soon along a peace "road map", Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said a meeting set for Oct. 2 between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had been postponed. He gave no new date for the summit.

The summit had been scheduled for Sunday but the surge in violence in recent days had cast doubt on the meeting.

"The Israeli side got in touch and this meeting was postponed. We don't want the meeting just for the sake of meeting. On the contrary, we want a meeting that is well prepared," Erekat told reporters in Cairo.

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