[JURIST] Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qureia [Wikipedia profile] ordered a ban on civilians carrying weapons in Palestinian territories on Thursday, showing a desire for less violence in the wake of the Palestinian Authority's proposal to Israel of a mutual cease-fire. The order was signed during a security meeting among senior officials amid a busy day of meetings on Wednesday that raised hopes the sides could reach an agreement on ending years of bloodshed. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has been praised by Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and visiting US envoy William Burns for his efforts to reduce violence in the region. Abbas has also been assured by armed groups that they will halt attacks on Israel if Israel stops military operations like arrest raids and targeted killings of Palestinian fugitives. Abbas said he expects to hear from Israel "as soon as possible" on the cease-fire proposal. AP has more.