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
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
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