Hamas Refuses to Halt Attacks and Participate in Elections

The militant fundamentalist Hamas organization has refused to halt violent attacks against Israelis, according to reports on reconciliation talks in Cairo between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

The two groups concluded four days of talks Thursday, reportedly failing to reach agreement on all major issues.

Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat reportedly dropped plans to attend the final day of talks after Hamas officials refused to participate in the Palestinian elections scheduled for Jan. 20.

An official with the Palestinian Authority said the level of success at the talks was “absolutely zero,” according to reports.

Hours after the talks ended Thursday, the two sides were said to be haggling over the final wording of a joint statement.

But Palestinian Authority officials said one point of agreement was reached: Hamas, which violently opposes the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, would not call on its followers to boycott the elections for a governing Palestinian Council.

In addition, Hamas said it would participate in separate local and trade-union elections.

Israel Radio reported that although Hamas indicated it would refrain from carrying out attacks on Israelis before the elections for the Palestinian Council, both Israeli and Palestinian officials expected attacks to resume after them.

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