Abbas: We await Israeli response to cease-fire offer (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Aluf Benn and Arnon Regular, Haaretz Correspondents, and The Associated Press 01/27/05 15:09 (GMT+2)
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Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday he is
waiting for an Israeli response to his offer to declare a mutual
cease-fire "as soon as possible."
Abbas spoke to reporters a
day after senior Israeli and Palestinian
officials met to discuss a possible truce deal and the agenda for an
upcoming summit between the Palestinian leader and Prime Minister
In the course of the Wednesday meeting, former
chief Mohammed Dahlan said Thursday, Israel agreed in principle to
stop pursuing militants and halt targeted killings.
said it would respond to "quiet with quiet."
have said in the past they are not interested in a
formal cease-fire declaration, a sentiment repeated Thursday by
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, who called the cease-fire a "ticking
However, Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erekat, who
in Wednesday´s meeting, said his Israeli counterparts agreed to
consider the idea.
"We are willing to have a cease-fire, and we
have informed the
Israelis of this and we are waiting for an answer from them as soon
as possible," Abbas told reporters Thursday, before leaving the West
Bank for visits to Jordan, Egypt, Switzerland, Russia and
Erekat said he proposed a mutual cease-fire declaration
meeting Wednesday with Sharon aide Dov Weisglass.
Israelis] did not reject this. They will give us the final
answer next week," he said.
But Shalom said the cease-fire
forged by Abbbas was a "ticking bomb
which will blow up in our faces."
Shalom made the comments hours
after an interview with Sharon was
published in which the prime minister said he is "very satisfied"
with the steps being taken by Abbas to end the
Speaking to Army Radio after talks with newly
Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice, said, "A cease-fire as
such is not a goal."
"Whoever thinks a halt is the right thing,
is mistaken. A cease-fire
is a ticking bomb which will blow up in our faces," Shalom
"Therefore, you cannot take a cease-fire as a long-range
they are are still preserving their infrastructure, the extremist
organizations can rebuild them and bring about a situation in which
at a time they choose they can carry out one terrorist attack or a
series of terror attacks, which will bring down this whole process
and send it to hell."
Sharon spokesman Asaf Shariv also backed
away from expressing support
for a cease-fire per se, but said Israel is examining the Palestinian
proposals. "I don´t know if a cease-fire is the right wording," he
said. "If there is quiet on the Palestinian side, Israel will respond
Israel due to release Palestinian
Israel is expected to release hundreds of Palestinian
part of a package of steps and goodwill gestures designed to help
strengthen the new Palestinian leadership and encourage them to
continue efforts to prevent terror, Israeli officials have said.
Sharon will meet Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed
about two weeks and present them with the steps Israel intends to
"There is no doubt that Abu Mazen [Abbas] has begun to
told the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper in an interview published
Thursday. "I am very satisfied with what I hear is happening on the
Palestinian side, and I have a serious interest in advancing the
process with him [Abbas]."
"I intend to advance the chance of a
settlement with the
Palestinians," the prime minister said. "I intend to be accommodating
towards Abu Mazen while at the same time remaining vigilant and
assessing the situation on their side."
In Wednesday´s meeting
of Sharon, Abbas and Qureia aides, the
Palestinians emphasized the importance of freeing prisoners. The
Israelis said they understand the Palestinian position, and would
examine the request in the context of progress made in achieving
quiet on the ground.
The sides discussed a
three-stage joint security plan that includes a
cease-fire, transferring West Bank cities to Palestinian control, and
dealing with wanted men.
* Cease-fire: Weisglass said that if
there is a total halt to all
forms of Palestinian violence against Israelis everywhere, Israel
would refrain from all military activity. The only deviation from
that would be for "ticking bombs," which would take place only under
special circumstances and with approval from the political
Sharon has said that he conditions the continuation of
with the Palestinian Authority on the continuation of the calm. Aides
to the prime minister said that Israel is pleased with actions the PA
has taken to prevent violence, but the prime minister has
reservations about declarations over a mutual cease-fire, preferring
practical agreements instead.
* Transfer of West Bank cities:
Dahlan will meet with Defense
Minister Shaul Mofaz next week to resume hudna discussions that began
in the summer of 2003 about the IDF quitting the West Bank´s city
centers, which would take place once the Palestinians hand over a
detailed security plan and say they can take responsibility. The
Israelis noted that the Palestinians have been much more serious in
discussing their security plans than they were in
Palestinian security sources said after the meeting that
already had relayed instructions to the PA´s security mechanisms to
prepare for the possibility that they would be entrusted with
security responsibility for various towns and cities in the West
* Dealing with wanted men: Israel expects the PA to remove
of wanted men from terror activity, disarming them and keeping them
under its control. The Palestinians are planing to co-opt the armed
men into the PA security forces.
The Israelis emphasized that
security is their main issue
and "confidence building measures" such as prisoner releases and
opening checkpoints are meant to strengthen PA capabilities to stop
terrorism in the territories.
The atmosphere at Wednesday´s
meeting was good. Weisglass and Dahlan
traded jokes, the Palestinians made no demands such as freeing Marwan
Barghouti or halting construction of the separation fence, which in
the past - under Yasser Arafat - had become preconditions for them to
hold meetings with Sharon.
Weisglass briefed Vice Premier Shimon
Peres and Minister without
Portfolio Haim Ramon after the meeting. Next week, Weisglass will
travel to Washington to meet Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and
National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. Upon his return, the sides
will hold another meeting to prepare for the Sharon-Abbas summit.(©
Copyright 2005 Haaretz. 01/27/05)
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