Sharon, Abbas hold summit in Jerusalem, vow to continue with peace efforts
Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas during their meeting on Tuesday that Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat may visit the Gaza Strip, if he asks to do so, Israeli media reports said.
Sharon also told Abbas that Israel would consider releasing some Palestinian prisoners.
The two leaders agreed on the establishment of four joint committees, as pledged earlier by Abbas, to deal with the release of Palestinians imprisoned in Israel jails, trade, security and an end to incitement.
Ahead of their talks, Sharon told Abbas that Israel would not stop its efforts to fight against "terror," and warned him that there could be no peace as long as "terrorism" continued.
In a public statement at his Jerusalem office, the Israeli leader said that his country was willing to pay "a painful price" for peace with the Palestinians, and maintained that Israel does not want to rule the Palestinian people, but rather live with them side by side, as good neighbors.
"We are before a new opportunity for the possibility for a better future for both peoples. A future full of opportunities and hope, is today closer than in the past," Sharon read from a statement.
"I have no doubt that the picture coming out of here today to the people of Israel and the Palestinian people and the entire world is one of hope and of optimism," he said in his
Both premiers were accompanied by a number of ministers, who sat intermingled at the same table. The two stood at podiums covered with the symbol of the Israeli government. There were no Israeli or Palestinian flags.
Speaking after Sharon, Abbas echoed the words of his counterpart, saying that, "a just peace will bring a better future for everyone," whereas killing and destruction merely sowed hatred.
He said that the Palestinians wanted to end the conflict with Israel, and would do so through diplomacy. "Our conflict with you is a political conflict and we will end it through political means. We do not have hostility with the Israeli people and we have no interest in continuing the conflict with them," Abbas said.
"We hope to leave here today with an agreement on the creation of joint Israeli-Palestinian committees," Abbas added, and vowed to "work without rest to rebuild our public institutions and security services."
But the Palestinian leader reminded those present that a "just peace" included "the creation of an independent Palestinian state and the release of prisoners from Israeli
Abbas and Sharon ended their remarks with a long handshake, looking at each other. They took no questions before heading off for their meeting. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)