The London based Asharq Al-Awsat reported Monday that an agreement has been reached between Egypt and both Hamas and Islamic Jihad in which both groups agreed to stop attacks against Israel after the intended Gaza Pullout and allow the Palestinian Authority to conduct negotiations with Israel.

Asharq Al-Awsat also reported that senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad members had met over the weekend with Egyptian diplomats in Gaza.

According to Israel Radio, Jibril Rajoub, an adviser to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, has told Egyptian officials that the Palestinian organizations are nearing an agreement on a cease-fire following Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

A Palestinian source said Sunday that Hamas and Islamic Jihad had agreed to a plan formulated by Marwan Barghouti, the West Bank Fatah leader currently in an Israeli jail, which calls for laying down arms within three months of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad denied Monday that they were welling to lay down arms, confirming that resistance will continue until occupation ends.

Islamic Jihad leader Khader Khabib confirmed Monday the existence of a ‘verbal agreement’ between his movement and Egypt.

Khabab said that Egypt ‘promised that Israel would withdraw from the entire Gaza Strip, end the siege and the quarantine against the Palestinian people, seize targeted killings, and commit not to invade Gaza”

At the end of the month, a delegation of Fatah members will arrive in Cairo for talks that will complete the stage of initial talks with the three main groups active in the Gaza Strip. Next month, the representatives of all the organizations will meet in Cairo to complete talks.

The question remains whether Israel would respond positively to Egyptian demands, including the pullout of the entire Gaza Strip, allow air and sea ports to operate, allow a free passage between Gaza and the West bank.

It is hard to believe that Israel would be willing to move that far.