GAZA CITY (CNN) # Two Palestinian militant groups have agreed to a three-month cessation of violence against Israelis, according to a joint statement released Sunday.
The statement by Hamas and Islamic Jihad contains a number of conditions they said must be met if the truce is to hold.
The conditions include:
• Israeli armed forces must suspend incursions inside Palestinian territory.
• The Israeli army must stop destroying the homes of suspected militants.
• All Israeli army checkpoints in Gaza must be removed.
• Palestinian President Yasser Arafat must be allowed to leave Ramallah and move about freely.
• All Palestinians in Israeli custody must be released.
Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant group associated with Arafat’s Fatah movement, has not joined the cease-fire yet. Sources in the group said there was a split over possible conditions, but offered no details.
The group has been pushing for an end to the siege that has kept Arafat in Ramallah for months and for the release of Palestinian prisoners held under administrative detention by the Israelis, among other conditions.
Palestinian sources told CNN that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine had rejected the cease-fire.
Meanwhile, Israeli troops prepared to begin withdrawing from Gaza, Israeli sources said.
The flurry of activity coincided with the visit of U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to the region # the third U.S. official to visit the Mideast in the past month # to jump-start the so-called road map to peace.
The road map calls for a Palestinian state by 2005. But incremental steps include Palestinians clamping down on terror groups and Israel dismantling illegal settlement outposts built since March 2001