From: Reuters
Published April 25, 2008 03:02 AM

Israel snubs Hamas offer of six-month truce

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel dismissed on Friday a proposal by Hamas to call a conditional six-month truce in the Gaza Strip, calling it a ruse aimed at allowing the Palestinian Islamist group to recover from recent fighting.

"Hamas is biding time in order to rearm and regroup. There would be no need for Israel's defensive actions if Hamas would cease and desist from committing terrorist attacks on Israelis," Israeli government spokesman David Baker said.

In apparent reference to Israeli air strikes and commando raids in Gaza, Baker added: "Israel will continue to act to protect its citizens."

Following talks with Egyptian mediators, Hamas on Thursday called for a mutual cessation of hostilities in Gaza along with an end to a crippling Israeli-led blockade on the territory.

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During the proposed truce, Egypt would try to extend it to the occupied West Bank, another territory where Palestinians are fighting for statehood, Hamas said.

Hamas, which controls Gaza while Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas holds sway in the West Bank, had previously demanded that any ceasefire be implemented in both areas simultaneously.

(Writing by Dan Williams, Editing by Richard Williams)

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