Palestinian and Israeli ceasefire marks end of conflict

A halt to four and a half years of bloody conflict was called yesterday by Israel and the new Palestinian leadership, as both sides pledged to seize what Ariel Sharon declared to be an opportunity for "security, tranquillity and peace" in the Middle East.

A halt to four and a half years of bloody conflict was called yesterday by Israel and the new Palestinian leadership, as both sides pledged to seize what Ariel Sharon declared to be an opportunity for "security, tranquillity and peace" in the Middle East.

In the most significant reconciliation since the Palestinian uprising began in September 2000, the Israeli Prime Minister and the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, clasped each other's hand at a meeting which for the first time committed both sides to a ceasefire in a conflict which has cost more than 4,000 Israeli and Palestinian lives.

During a declaration which went noticeably further than expected in affirming Israel's own commitment to reciprocate the truce brokered by Mr Abbas in talks with the armed factions, Mr Sharon said: "Today ... we agreed that all Palestinians will stop acts of violence against all Israelis everywhere and in parallel, Israel will cease military activity against all Palestinians anywhere."

The Israeli Prime Minister, seen as recently as five years ago as the country's most powerful opponent of a lasting peace based on a Palestinian state, used yesterday's summit hosted by the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, to tell the Palestinian people directly of his "genuine intention to respect your right to live independently and with dignity".

In his own declaration that both sides had agreed "to stop all acts of violence against Palestinians and Israelis", Mr Abbas went on to deliver a clear double message to both Israel and the armed Palestinian factions: "The time has come for our people to live under one law, one sovereignty, one weapon and political pluralism."

Mr Sharon said his plan to withdraw the 7,500 settlers from Gaza this year would "pave the way to the start" of implementing the road map, the process designed to culminate in the creation of a Palestinian state. But in his own warning to the Palestinian leadership that he would not be content only with a voluntary ceasefire negotiated between it and the armed factions, he added that Israel and the Palestinian leadership had to "act together determinedly to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure to disarm and subdue it once and for all".

Officials made it clear that there had been no signed or detailed agreement on implementing the ceasefire. But Israel, which had already agreed to end targeted killings and the pursuit of militants, has indicated its willingness to hand over security control from its army to Palestinian security forces in five West Bank cities over the next month, starting with Jericho.

Having already pledged to release 900 of the 8,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails, Israel has agreed to continue discussions with the Palestinians on other releases, including more than 200 held since before the first Oslo accord in 1993. Mohammed Dahlan, the former Palestinian minister, who has been closely involved in talks with Israeli officials, said: "The prisoners are the key to any solution."

Hamas's representative in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan, suggested the faction was not bound by the truce and its agreement depended on a "substantial change" by Israel. But Ahmad Qureia, the Palestinian Prime Minister, played down the reaction, and a similar warning from Islamic Jihad in Gaza that "calm does not come for free" by saying: "There are good understandings between all the Palestinian groups and factions and leaders."

Israeli officials said Mr Sharon had invited the Palestinian leader to his ranch in the Negev and Mr Abbas had accepted. Gideon Meir, the deputy director general of the foreign ministry, said: "There was a great atmosphere in the talks ... smiles and joking."

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Full Stack Developer (.NET 4.0, ASP.NET, MVC, Ajax, WCF,SQL)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Full Stack ...

AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - Investment Management

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?