GAZA CITY - A senior Hamas official said Friday his group will not stop its suicide attacks in Israel, ahead of inter-Palestinian talks in Cairo which he said will start January 22.
"Hamas officially informed Egypt of its final answer: our position is against ending the resistance and abiding by a one-year truce," Abdelaziz Rantissi said, stressing that "operations inside Israel would continue."
He was referring to a truce plan which the Palestinian daily Al-Ayam said was put forward by Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Soleiman and had the approval of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
The proposal was for a halt to Palestinian attacks inside Israel for a year in exchange for an end to Israel's targetted killings of Palestinian militants, Al-Ayyam said.
But the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram said this was "not quite correct."
Rantissi said "it has been decided that the inter-Palestinian dialogue would resume in Cairo on January 22 and we will attend."
"We believe the talks will lead to positive results because this time all Palestinian factions have been invited by Egypt to attend and will confirm the right of our people to resist," he said without giving any further details.
The Cairo consultations, which started last fall under the aegis of Egypt and the European Union, were aimed at harmonizing Palestinian positions on means of pursuing the intifada against Israeli occupation.
While Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's mainstream Fatah party has been pushing for a truce in exchange of a promise to integrate Hamas in the Palestinian political apparatus, the Islamic radicals have so far rejected any ceasefire agreement.
Senior Fatah official Zacharia al-Agha, who will attend the upcoming session in Cairo, confirmed that a new round of talks would start on January 22 and said all Palestinian groups would be there.
"The goal is to produce a document on which we all agree and with which we comply, dealing with the political situation, the forms resistance should take against Israeli occupation, as well as the domestic situation including the participation of all factions in decision-making," he said.
Commenting on Hamas' hasty announcement, he said: "It is unnecessary to announce your position before the talks, while everyone should be taking steps to find common ground."
"We at least want to meet at halfway point, but are still hoping to reach an agreement on everything," he added.
Palestine Liberation Organization number two Mahmud Abbas is to head the Fatah delegation in Cairo, while Rantissi said Hamas would be represented by its Damascus-based politburo chief Khaled Meshaal, as was the case last December in previous talks.
President Hosni Mubarak said Wednesday Egypt has made progress in persuading radical Palestinian groups to suspend their attacks on Israelis.
"We are working to establish a new climate which would allow negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians to resume," he added, while accusing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of not wanting that.
Al-Ahram said Friday Egypt had put forward "ideas to promote a climate of calm in the occupied Palestinian territories and stop the situation worsening."
"Discussions are still under way with the various Palestinian groups with the aim of unifying their ranks and positions but have not yet resulted in a well-defined project or initiative", it added.