Palestinian resistance gunmen said Wednesday they will keep their weapons out of sight, but won’t hand them over to the Palestinian Authority, dismissing PA calls to hand guns and join PA security and civil institutions. 

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is under growing pressure from the United States and Israel to disarm militants. He has said he will do so by persuasion, not force.

Abbas has formed two committees to deal with issue of “wanted” Palestinians. The aim is to get gunmen off the streets, persuade them to give up their guns, and find them jobs within the PA.

Many of the wanted are former members of the PA security forces, who found themselves forced to use their guns as Israeli troops invaded the PA areas. Abbas is proposing they return to their jobs.

Others had bought weapons, and the PA is offering to buy the guns, and find them jobs.

PA officials denied that Abbas has issued a presidential decree urging armed men to voluntarily hand over their weapons within two weeks.

‘We agreed to hide our weapons, to keep them out of public view, but we are not going to hand them over to the Palestinian Authority,’ said Kamal Ghanem, a leader of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the military wing of Fatah, said on Wednesday.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad spokesmen also said Wednesday that the groups would not hand over weapons.

‘We stopped using these weapons after the declaration of quiet, despite the daily violations (of the truce) by Israel,’ said Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, adding that handing over weapons ‘is not acceptable.’