"We shall all declare today that violence will not murder hope. This is the day when the process began moving forward - to bring peace for all the people of the Middle East," Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced at the end of the summit at Sharm e-Sheikh attended by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and Jordan's King Abdullah.
Sharon said that he and Abbas “agreed that the Palestinians will put a stop to violence and Israel will stop its military actions against the Palestinians. We must not make do with a temporary stop in violence, but rather be determined and make sure that terror comes to a full stop, for good. We are willing to commit to all the obligations we agreed upon, and expect the same from the other side."
"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. He added that there is a “new wind” blowing, “and we should not let it pass, leaving us empty handed. We must not miss this opportunity to put a stop to four years of violence; this is a delicate opportunity, and we must be careful.”
Sharon and Abbas decided on a process of handing over security control to Palestinian forces. Sharon also said that Israel intends to release hundreds of prisoners and a joint forum will be established to define criteria for their release.
“To our Palestinian neighbors,” Sharon declared, “I promise that we intend to honor your right to live a life of peace; we have no desire to occupy you. You should prove you have the courage to reach compromises and live alongside us in peace and respect. To my people: We have gone through four tough years – and overcome. Now is the time to bring about security, peace and quiet. This is the only way to reach a situation where there are two states, living in peace alongside each other.”
Sharon also made a plea to the leaders of the Middle East, “Let us all hold hands and create a new atmosphere of openness and tolerance to stop the radicals of yesterday who wish to flood us with blood and hatred.”
Abbas reiterated Sharon's declaration regarding the end of hostilities. “We have agreed with PM Sharon to cease all acts of violence against the Israelis and the Palestinians wherever they are." He added that the agreements they reached were just the “beginning of the process of bridging the gap between all of us.”
Abbas said the recent “remarkable democratic process” in the PA was an indication that “the Palestinian people had embodied their seeking of peace and an end to conflict.”
Abbas concluded by saying, “It is high time that our people enjoy their right to live a normal life just like normal people under the rule of law. We look forward to that day and hope it will come quickly when the language of negotiations will replace the language of bullets.”
Palestinian Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat said Israeli and Palestinian officials have agreed to revive committees set up to deal with prisoners, the redeployment of troops, Palestinian fugitives and deportees.
Meanwhile, the Hamas spokesman in Lebanon declared, “The talk about what the leader of the Palestinian Authority called a cessation of acts of violence is not binding on the resistance because this is a unilateral stand and was not the result of the outcome of an intra-Palestinian dialogue as has been agreed previously.”Jerusalem PostCNNHaaretz