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Rantisi: Hamas will not extend cease-fire to six months (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Haaretz Service 07/10/03 10:32 (GMT+3) Source: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/316695.html
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Senior Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi refused to extend the cease-fire from three to six months, as an Egyptian delegation requested, and threatened an escalation in fighting, Army Radio reported Thursday.
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Also Thursday, a Palestinian official expressed concern that Israel may use the internal Palestinian dispute to try to get out of its obligations, and called the cease-fire "stable."
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A delegation of Egyptian envoys visiting the Gaza Strip had requested that the Palestinians double the time limit of the cease-fire.
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However, Rantisi said that not only would the cease-fire not be extended, but an escalation in fighting is expected due to Israel´s refusal to release prisoners from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Army Radio reported.
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On Wednesday, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas, reaffirmed the militant group´s commitment to a temporary cease-fire with Israel, but emphasized the importance of prisoner release.
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After talks with Egyptian envoys, Yassin said that Israel´s unwillingness to free thousands of Palestinian prisoners could undermine the cease-fire and warned, "our patience has its limits."
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"Israeli practices [including] the issue of the prisoners, are a red line that can never be bypassed in any way or form," Yassin told reporters in Gaza.
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Meanwhile, Palestinian Legislative Council member Ziad abu Ziad said he is worried about Israelis taking advantage of internal Palestinian disputes.
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"There may be specific people on the Israeli side who will try to take advantage of every incident to try to get out of and run away from the cease-fire," abu Ziad told Army Radio on Thursday morning. "That could worry me."
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He said the Palestinian end of the cease-fire is under control. "The hudna, or cease fire, is stable and strong," said abu Ziad. "It´s not at all fragile." (© Copyright 2003 Haaretz. 07/10/03)
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