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2005 blog


Sharon announces ceasefire as
Abbas, Abdullah and Mubarak
join with him at Sharm-el-Sheikh
,  Feb. 8, 2005

Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon today (Tuesday, Feb. 8) announced a ceasefire with the Palestinian Authority in which "Palestinians will stop all acts of violence against all Israelis everywhere and parallely, Israel will cease all its military activity against all Palestinians everywhere."

As President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, King Abdullah of Jordan and Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak looked on, Sharon announced further that he and Abbas had agreed during their meeting at Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, "on a process of transferring security responsibility for Palestinian areas."

Furthermore, said Sharon, "I informed Chairman Abbas of our intention to take a series of confidence-building measures; soon we will release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, and also establish a joint committee to explore future release of prisoners.

"We wish to conduct genuine and honest dialogue in order to transform these first steps into a sound basis for the foundation of our relations," Sharon said.  He added that he intends to carry on the plan that he had announced unilaterally for disengagement from the Gaza and some West Bank settlements.  "Now, if new change does emerge on the Palestinian side, the disengagement can bring hope and become the new starting point for a coordinated, successful process. 

"The Disengagement Plan can pave the way to implementation of the Roadmap, to which we are committed and which we want to implement," Sharon said. "We are prepared to actively fulfill our obligations, and expect the other side to carry out all its obligations," he added.

Aware that terrorists might attempt to provoke an end to the ceasefire, he commented: "This is a very fragile opportunity, that the extremists will want to exploit. They want to close the window of opportunity for us and allow our two peoples to drown in their blood...There is only one answer to them: we must all announce here today that violence will not win, that violence will not be allowed to murder hope.  We must all make a commitment not to agree for a temporary solution, not to allow violence to raise its head, but to act together, determinedly, to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, to disarm and subdue it once and for all. Only by crushing terror and violence will we build peace."

Sharon used the occasion to address words both to Palestinian citizens and to Israeli citizens. To the Palestinians, he said:

"I assure you that we have a genuine intention to respect your right to live independently and in dignity.  I have already said that Israel has no desire to continue to govern over you and control your fate. We in Israel have had to painfully wake up from our dreams, and we are determined to overcome all the obstacles which might stand in our path in order to realize the new chance which has been created.  

"You too must prove that you have the strength and the courage to compromise, abandon unrealistic dreams, subdue the forces which oppose peace and live in peace and mutual respect side-by-side with us."

To Israelis, Sharon said: "We have passed difficult years, faced the most painful experiences and overcame them.  The future lies before us. We are required to take difficult and controversial steps, but we must not miss the opportunity to try to achieve what we have wished for, for so many years: security, tranquility and peace."

Sharon also addressed Mubarak and King Abdullah, who were present, as well as leaders of other Arab states, who were not:  "Come let us join hands and create a new atmosphere of openness and tolerance in our region. Together we can build a dam against the radical forces of yesterday which threaten to carry us all into a whirlpool of blood and hatred. Together we can promote relations between us and ignite a first ray of hope for all the people of the Middle East. Together we can ensure our peoples lives of freedom and stability, prosperity and peace."

Donald H. Harrison