Sharon, Abbas to Meet in Egypt (CNS-CYBERCAST NEWS SERVICE) By Julie Stahl JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 02/02/05)
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Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will host
a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian
Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas next Tuesday, Sharon´s office
announced on Wednesday.
Sharon has accepted the invitation and Abbas is expected to do
A meeting between Sharon and Abbas has been anticipated since Abbas
was elected on January 9 to succeed Yasser Arafat as Palestinian
Authority chairman. But Egypt´s offer to host the meeting came as
something of a surprise.
Jordan´s King Abdullah also will participate, Israel Radio reported.
The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv could not confirm whether Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice - who is due here on Sunday for talks with
Israeli and Palestinian leaders - would attend the meeting in Sharm
el-Sheikh, but it is unlikely, since she´s scheduled to be in Europe
The last time Sharon and Abbas met was in July 2003, when Abbas was
PA prime minister. But the high-profile, televised meeting, conducted
in Hebrew and Arabic, angered Arafat, who accused Abbas of being a
traitor to the Palestinian cause. Abbas resigned two months later.
Wednesday´s announcement followed a meeting between Sharon and
Mubarak´s special envoy, Egyptian Intelligence Minister Gen. Omar
The meeting follows "positive developments" in security talks between
Israel and the PA as well as progress in security talks with the
Egyptians, said Sharon´s spokesman Dr. Ra´anan Gissin.
Israel has expressed some satisfaction at recent moves to bring about
calm in troubled areas, including the deployment of thousands of PA
security forces in the Gaza Strip to stop the firing of mortar shells
and Kassam rockets at Israeli communities and targets.
Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and PA security chief Mohammed
Dahlan met twice during the last week to coordinate security moves
and to discuss the handover of security control of Palestinian cities
in the West Bank to the PA.
Despite the security coordination, Palestinian gunmen opened fire on
an Israeli settlement in the Gaza Strip at midday on Wednesday and
overnight fired a mortar shell at an Israeli community there.
Two days ago, Palestinians accused Israeli soldiers of killing a 10-
year-old Palestinian girl. Israel has said it had nothing to do with
the girl´s death and PA security forces arrested and then released a
Palestinian for the killing on Tuesday.
"President Mubarak invited [Sharon and Abbas] because of recent
positive developments in security talks," Gissin said. "No doubt
Egypt wants to play a constructive role in [the talks]."
According to Gissin, it´s "very important" for Egypt to be involved
in the security talks because of Israel´s plan to disengage from the
Gaza Strip. Israel is insisting that the Palestinians take "real
steps" towards ending violence, terrorism and incitement, he said.
The agenda for the meeting to be held in the Egyptian Red Sea resort
of Sharm el-Sheikh - the sight of previous peace talks - will be
decided by top-level Israeli and PA officials, who are due to meet on
Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat confirmed that Abbas would likely be
going to the summit.
The Palestinians want the "mutual implementation of the obligations
form the road map," Erekat said, referring to the U.S.-backed peace
plan written jointly by the U.S., Russia, European Union and United
The first phase of the road map, which envisions the creation of an
independent Palestinian state, obligates Israel to remove
unauthorized settlement outposts in the West Bank and obligates
Palestinians to halt terrorism and dismantle the terrorist
Palestinians also are demanding the release of thousands of
Palestinian security prisoners held by Israel and the removal of
roadblocks in the West Bank, which according to Erekat, are included
in the road map.
They also want a commitment from Israel not to engage in arrest
operations against wanted fugitives, reports have said.
Asked about the likelihood that Israel would agree to such moves,
Gissin said that it all depends on the steps taken by the
"[Israel is] willing to implement gestures, provided [the
Palestinians] take real steps [toward] peace and security and
fighting terrorism. Quiet is a first step. It´s good but it´s not
enough," he said.
All obligations have to be met in the first phase of the road map
before moving on to the next phase, Gissin added.
Rice, who is making her first Middle East tour since becoming
secretary of state, said Washington is expecting the PA to dismantle
terrorist organizations but she also praised Abbas for steps he has
taken so far.
Rice said recent circumstances give a "greater opportunity to
progress back onto the road map and...a two-state solution."
In an interview with two wire services, Rice said that Abbas has
made "some progress" on curbing attacks against Israel -- although
the situation isn´t "perfect."
"We hope they´ll continue to act and to act more effectively," she
Rice also said she hopes to see Israel respond likewise by allowing
more freedom of movement to Palestinians. She also noted Israel´s
willingness to withdraw from Palestinian areas and said this should
give encouragement to the Palestinians. (copyright 1998-2005
Cybercast News Service. 02/02/05)
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