GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Palestinian officials said Monday they expect a positive response from Hamas on a truce with Israel, perhaps even by the end of the day, and Egyptian diplomatic sources said an announcement would be made in Cairo.
Hamas officials said they are still studying the proposal.
A truce is crucial for implementing a U.S.-backed peace plan, the "road map" to Palestinian statehood by 2005. In the first stage, the Palestinians must dismantle militant groups, while Israel must gradually withdraw to positions held before the outbreak of fighting 33 months ago.
But lulls in violence and cease-fire efforts have been scuttled repeatedly in the past, both by Hamas attacks and Israel's targeted killings of militants.
Israel has said this time that it would accept a truce, but only as a brief precursor to a crackdown on Hamas by Palestinian security forces. "The Palestinians must fight all the terror organizations," Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Monday.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas has said he will not use force against the militants, for fear of sparking a civil war.