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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Israel 'Willing to Suspend Attacks'

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- The Israeli military is willing to suspend operations against Palestinian militants if they don't carry out attacks, Israel's defense minister said Sunday, signaling a change in position that could help pave the way toward a cease-fire.

The defense minister, Shaul Mofaz, also said Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has received assurances from at least two militant groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, that they will halt attacks on Israel for at least a month.

During this time, a more detailed agreement, including the terms of possible political participation of the opposition groups, would be negotiated, Mofaz said. He did not say how he learned about the cease-fire.

Palestinian officials denied that an agreement was in place, but confirmed that progress was being made. Abbas has been in Gaza since last Tuesday in efforts to persuade militant groups to halt their attacks -- a move that could possibly lead to peace talks with Israel.

"The Palestinian dialogue is going on very well, but I cannot say that an agreement was concluded," said Palestinian Cabinet Minister Saeb Erekat. "We hope this will be concluded very soon and to this end I call upon the Israeli side to resume negotiations so we can coordinate a mutual declaration of cessation of violence."

n Israel seeks only an interim peace accord with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, seeing him as unyielding on core disputes, Zalman Shoval, a senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said Sunday, Reuters reported.

"On the major issues, Abbas will not be able to compromise any more than Arafat. That being the case, it is clear that negotiating on a final accord now would be a recipe for disaster," he said.