Israel and Palestine to declare truce

Israel and Palestine to declare truce
(Filed: 07/02/2005)

Middle East factfile

Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, will announce a ceasefire at a summit in Egypt tomorrow, a Palestinian cabinet minister has said.

"We have agreed to announce a ceasefire tomorrow at the summit," Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian negotiations minister said.

The truce, which will bring an end to more than four years of fighting, also includes plans to establish joint committees to determine criteria for the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, and to oversee the gradual withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestinian cities on the West Bank.

The announcement came after Palestinian and Israeli officials met today to finalise details for tomorrow's talks.

Mr Sharon has cast the meeting as a discussion of security measures ahead of an Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Gaza Strip this summer.

Palestinians want the event to kick-start the "road map" to Palestinian statehood in Gaza and the West Bank, alongside a secure Israel.

Earlier, hopes for a diplomatic breakthrough were boosted when Condoleezza Rice, the visiting American secretary of state, announced the appointment of a US general as Israeli-Palestinian security coordinator.

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