Egypt has sent a delegation to Gaza ahead of a meeting it will be hosting on Tuesday between Palestinian and Israeli leaders. The summit in Sharm el-Sheik will be the highest-level talks between the two sides since the Intifada broke out in September 2000. It is hoped Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Israel’s Ariel Sharon will declare a formal end to violence. Abbas’s ruling Fatah movement has renewed its support for a mutual ceasefire.
It said its militias would refrain from attacks on Israeli civilians. A Hamas leader said he hoped Israel would agree to stop targeting militant leaders. In Ramallah, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie said he hoped progress would be made at the summit on the issue of a Palestinian state.
He made the comments on a wet day in a region where rain is a sign of hope. “We will raise the issue of President Bush’s vision about the establishment of a Palestinian state beside Israel. We think that this is the most important issue and the solution for this conflict,” said Qurie.
The U.S. president, who has been criticised for too little involvement in Middle East peace efforts, has sent his newly-appointed secretary of state to the region. Condoleezza Rice held talks with Sharon on Sunday and is due to meet Abbas today.