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Palestinian ceasefire ends four-year intifada (TELEGRAPH UK) By Inigo Gilmore in Tel Aviv, ISRAEL 02/04/05)Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/02/04/wmid04.xml DAILY TELEGRAPH DAILY TELEGRAPH Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
The Palestinians will officially declare an end to four years of armed confrontation with Israel when they announce a ceasefire at a summit in Egypt next week, Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, said yesterday.

Mr Abbas, who has repeatedly denounced armed attacks on Israel, will make the declaration when he meets Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Tuesday. It will be their first meeting since Mr Abbas was elected last month.

Mr Abbas, returning to the West Bank after a five-country tour, said he had already won an agreement from militants to halt attacks and he called on Israel to reciprocate, saying there were "positive signs" that Israel would observe the ceasefire.

"We will announce a ceasefire and the Israeli side must announce the same thing," he said in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Shimon Peres, Israel´s vice-premier, said he hoped that "there will be an official declaration of an armistice, the cessation of all acts of violence" but stopped short of committing Israel to a binding ceasefire on all fronts.

Israeli officials have said they reserve the right to strike at targets they deem to be terrorist threats, even though they have talked about refraining from carrying out "targeted killings".

Raanan Gissin, a spokesman for Mr Sharon, said the prime minister´s office would not make "declarations" now, but he stressed that Israel would have a package of "gestures" to unveil at the summit.

Among the goodwill gestures announced yesterday were plans to release about 900 Palestinian prisoners during the coming weeks, beginning in the next few days, and a West Bank troop "pullback" from five Palestinian cities. The term is slightly misleading as, in reality, Israeli troops have been sited on the outskirts of, and not in, these cities for some time.

The Israeli decision follows steps by Palestinian leaders to stop attacks on Israeli targets, which has generated a new atmosphere of goodwill between the two sides. An unofficial Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire has been in place for most of the past two weeks.

Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian cabinet minister and senior negotiator, said he hoped there would be an announcement of a "mutual cessation" at next week´s summit and told Israeli army radio: "You can hear the Palestinian leader saying from Sharm el-Sheikh that the Palestinian side is committed to stop all kinds of violence against Israelis anywhere - period."

He said the summit would succeed if the parties resumed security co- operation on the level that existed prior to the onset of the intifada in 2000 as well as starting to deal with issues like settlement activities, and Israel´s construction of a security wall.

The summit on Tuesday at Sharm el-Sheikh, a Red Sea resort, will be hosted by President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. The presence of Egypt and Jordan, both of which have long-standing peace agreements with Israel, would signal Arab support for any agreements Mr Sharon and Mr Abbas reach. (© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2004. 02/04/05)


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