Date registered: Aug 2002
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Palestinians, Israel announce cease-fire
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (CNN) -- Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced a cease-fire Tuesday, hailing it as a new opportunity for peace in the Middle East.
"We have agreed with Prime Minister Sharon to cease all violence against the Israelis and against the Palestinians, wherever they are," Abbas said after talks at their summit in Egypt.
The historic summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh -- hosted by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah II --is the first upper-level meeting between Israeli and Palestinian leaders in more than four years.
"A new opportunity for peace is born," Abbas said.
Sharon said Israel will cease its military operations in all locations in return for Palestinians' ending violence against Israelis.
"We really hope this day will be the day that marks the relaunching of the process for a better future that will lead us towards mutual respect and peace in the Middle East," Sharon said.
'We can move forward'
Details of the agreement were not made available, but on Monday, Sharon adviser Raanan Gissin said the Palestinians would declare an end to "violence, terrorism and incitement" against Israel.
In return, Gissin said, Israel will refrain from military action "to the extent that the Palestinians will fulfill their pledges and their commitments."
"It will be their responsibility to stop terrorists," Gissin said. "To the extent that will be fulfilled, we can move forward."
Palestinian Cabinet minister Saeb Erakat said Israeli and Palestinian officials have agreed to revive committees set up to deal with prisoners, the redeployment of troops, Palestinian fugitives and deportees.
Sharm el-Sheikh was the site of a Palestinian-Israeli summit in October 2000.
About 100 people -- mostly Palestinians -- had died in three weeks of violence, and President Bill Clinton mediated marathon peace talks at the Egyptian resort.
That summit -- between Israel's Ehud Barak and the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat -- yielded an unsigned "statement of intent" to end the violence. But clashes between Palestinians and Israelis in Gaza and the West Bank continued.
President Bush met with Arab leaders at the venue in June 2003 during a trip that also included a meeting in Jordan with Sharon and Abbas, then the Palestinian prime minister.
Tuesday's summit is the first time Sharon and Abbas have met since the Palestinian Authority president was elected to succeed Arafat, who succumbed to an unknown illness in November.
After Abbas' election, Israel and the Palestinian Authority took confidence-building steps regarding security, Palestinian prisoners and a proposed Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank.
Abbas has deployed security forces within the Palestinian territories to prevent terrorist attacks, and Israeli officials have approved the release of some Palestinian prisoners.
Last week, an Israeli Cabinet committee approved an end to targeted killings of suspected Palestinian militants and a military withdrawal from five West Bank cities, sources in Sharon's office said.
Items expected to have been taken up at the summit included the status of Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories and the West Bank barrier under construction by Israel, Erakat said.
Also Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -- after talks with Sharon and Abbas -- announced the two leaders have agreed to meet separately with President Bush in the spring.
"This is the most promising moment for progress between Palestinians and Israelis in recent years," Rice said. "I depart the region confident of the success of the meeting tomorrow between President Abbas and Prime Minster Sharon."
Rice also said U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William Ward will act as a security coordinator and will visit the region in the next few weeks. Ward also will work on Mideast security issues with Egypt and Jordan, she said.
Ward's responsibilities will include helping the Palestinians train and equip their security forces. Among his duties, Rice said, would be monitoring compliance with Israeli and Palestinian security agreements.
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