WEST BANK – Dozens of Palestinian fighters have made a rare pledge to halt attacks on Israel.
In return, they would be taken off that country’s wanted list.
The pledge comes a day before Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, is due to meet Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister.
Israel handed the Palestinians a list of 189 fighters, most of whom are from Abbas’s Fatah party, saying it would stop hunting them if they pledged to stop activities against it.
"All of the 189 people included on the list handed in by Israel" have signed, a Palestinian security official said.
Zakaria Zubeidi, leader of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the northern West Bank town of Jenin, is included in the list.
Zubeidi told AFP news agency that all Al-Aqsa fighters on the list "have signed a pledge to stop their attacks against Israel."
"The Al-Aqsa Brigades will not be an obstacle to any political project to solve the Palestinian question in a just manner."
Israel has said that if the men respect their promise for three months, and not leave West Bank areas, their names will be removed from its wanted list.
The amnesty is the latest gesture by Israel to strengthen Abbas after forces loyal to him were overrun in Gaza by Hamas a month ago.
"There are no other ways of helping Mahmoud Abbas except to allow modifications in the list of wanted Palestinians," said Matan Vilnai, Israel’s deputy defence minister.
Olmert also favours allowing Nayef Hawatmeh, head of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), to go to the West Bank this week to attend a "crucial" summit of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).
It would be the first visit by Hawatmeh, who is based in Damascus to the Palestinian territories since they were captured by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War.
Abbas and Olmert are due to hold talks on Monday in Jerusalem, instead of the West Bank town of Jericho as previously reported.
Israel has taken several steps aimed at bolstering Abbas in his stronghold of the West Bank, following the takeover of Gaza by Hamas.
Abbas and Olmert last met on June 25 in Egypt, where Israel had announced that it was releasing Palestinian customs duties that it had withheld for more than a year after Hamas came to power.
Around $118 million has since been paid out, allowing Abbas’s emergency government to pay full monthly salaries to civil servants for the first time in more than a year.
The government has also agreed to free 250 out of 11,000 Palestinian prisoners.
(Agencies via English Aljazeera.net)