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Israel, Palestine To Announce Cease-Fire

8 February 2005 -- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas are expected to announce a formal cease-fire and the renewal of peace talks when they meet for a summit today in Egypt.

The meeting in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh will mark the highest-level talks between the Israeli and Palestinian sides in almost four years. The summit is being hosted by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and is also being attended by Jordan's King Abdullah.

Raanan Gissin, a senior adviser to Sharon, said the object of the truce plan is to end the past four years of fighting:

"I could describe it as a unilateral cease-fire on both sides, with bilateral results, if you want. In other words, there will be an announcement on the Palestinian side about the cessation of violence, or terrorism incitement -- as a matter of fact, the end of the intifada. And on the Israeli side, of course, that we will refrain from any military action, providing there would be peace and quiet on the ground," Gissin said.

Mahmud Zahar, a spokesman for Hamas -- which has carried out hundreds of attacks against Israelis -- said the Palestinian Islamic militant group would evaluate the Abbas-Sharon summit before committing itself to halting its campaign of violence.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who met with Abbas and Sharon ahead of the summit, said both leaders had accepted invitations to meet with President George W. Bush at the White House in the spring.

(compiled from wire reports)