Mubarak: Israel, Palestinians Agree to Ceasefire
Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to a ceasefire, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told reporters Sunday after a meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.
"The Israeli and Palestinians have agreed to a ceasefire, on both sides," Mubarak said, cited by AFP.
It was not immediately clear exactly when the ceasefire would begin, reported The Associated Press.
The Egyptian President also told reporters that Israel will start easing measures against the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank ahead of the ceasefire..
He added that peace negotiations are due to resume four weeks after it goes into effect, according to the AP.
The agency said that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon conveyed a message to Mubarak, telling him that negotiations wold resume in a four-week time.
"Four weeks after the ceasefire, negotiations will start to find a solution to the situation and this will give hope that there will be stability," Sharon stated in the letter, cited by the agency.
The announcement came as violent confrontations escalated in the West Bank and Gaza despite a series of radical steps taken by the Palestinian Authority, driven by President Yasser Arafat, to try to stop anti-Israeli attacks after clear threats of reprisals by the Jewish state, said reports. Nevertheless, violent confrontations were still underway leading to the injury of a Jewish settler and more mortar shells fired at a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip.
In Nablus, a Palestinian man was killed by a bomb which exploded as a school bus carrying children from a Jewish settlement passed through the West Bank, an Israeli military source said.
The source said an apparent car bomb went off near the autonomous Palestinian city of Nablus about 100 meters from an Israeli army position, leaving one dead man lying beside it, reported AFP.
Palestinian witnesses said a second Palestinian was injured in the face and hand by the powerful blast.
It was not immediately clear whether this was a suicide attack or an accidental explosion en route to carrying out an attack
ARAFAT ACTS SEVERELY AGAINST INTIFADA ACTIVISTS AFTER ISRAELI THREATS
The high council of Palestinian national security, meeting in Gaza City late Saturday, dissolved the Fateh body responsible for shelling Israeli settlements and gave the order to prevent such attacks and to intensify the security patrols, said AFP.
"The firing of mortar shells must stop," Arafat said by phone from the West Bank town of Ramallah, to the leaders of the various security services that make up the high council, according to an official.
At the same time, the Palestinian police arrested one of the main leaders of the Islamic Hamas movement, Abdel Aziz Rantissi, for his "criticisms and threats" against the Palestinian Authority, said the agency.
During a large rally in the refugee camp of Jabalia in the Gaza Strip, Rantissi declared that his movement was opposed to the Jordanian-Egyptian peace plan and shouted out, while waving his Kalashnikov assault rifle: "This is our path."
This series of measures, the firmest since the start of the Intifada comes after Israeli threats of reprisals following mortar attacks Saturday claimed by Arafat's Fateh movement.
The measures also followed a telephone call Saturday evening from US Secretary of State Colin Powell, who discussed "recent developments" with Arafat, according to a Palestinian official.
Sharon accused the Palestinian Authority of being "directly responsible" for three mortar attacks on Jewish settlements, one of which left five people wounded at Netzer Hazani in the southern Gaza Strip.
These attacks "prove that the Palestinian Authority is not doing anything to prevent, and is actively involved in, attacks on innocent Israeli women and children in their own communities," the statement said, cited by Haaretz newspaper.
His advisor, Avni Pazner, said that Israel "will choose the way and the time and the form of our response," saying "the situation is not tolerable to us."
According to him, the Fateh claim is "even more serious because it is Arafat's own organization, and it is Arafat who promised personally, personally, to stop the mortar fire coming from Gaza."
On April 18, Arafat ordered his security services to prevent firing on Israeli territory and the Jewish settlements from within Palestinian territory.
On Saturday, Fateh claimed responsibility for the first time for two mortar attacks. One, which did not cause any casualties, targeted the settlements of the Gush Katif bloc overnight Friday, and the other wounded five settlers in the Netzer Hazani settlement.
In careful language, the high council for Palestinian security only announced the dissolution of the committees of popular resistance, which comes from Fateh.
"All the members of these committees must reintegrate their positions at the heart of the security services, and those who do not expose themselves to action under the law," a Palestinian official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The committees of popular resistance were formed after the start of the Intifada seven months ago.
Jointly known as Tanzim by Israel, they have claimed various anti-Israeli operations in the occupied territories.
JEWISH SETTLER LIGHTLY INJURED IN SHOOTING NEAR GAZA STRIP SETTLEMENT
A Jewish settler was lightly injured Sunday when Israeli soldiers and armed Palestinians exchanged fire near the Neve Dekalim settlement in the southern Gaza Strip, said AFP.
"Palestinians opened gunfire on Neve Dekalim injuring one, and our forces retaliated with tanks," the spokesman told AFP.
Quoting settlers, Israeli radio had earlier reported mortar fire on the settlement but the army spokesman denied any such attack – Albawba.com
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