Once Again: Ceasefire to be Announced

Five days before the Sharon-Mubarak-Abu Mazen summit meeting, reports are that the Israeli and PA leaders will announce a total end to all violence between them – and thus, an end to the Oslo War.

, | updated: 11:06

However, it's also likely that this will not come without a price, and that Abu Mazen will demand Israeli agreement to a non-conditional renewal of the diplomatic process. He thus appears to be paving the way for renewed violence - as previous ceasefires have been broken by Palestinian terrorists' murderous responses to the positions taken by Israel in diplomatic negotiations.

In addition, Israel will have to make several "confidence-building gestures" to the PA before the summit, and the security mini-Cabinet is convening this morning to decide on them. The PA has demanded the release of 1,000 imprisoned terrorists, including murderers, while GSS chief Avi Dichter has approved a list of only 500 – including none with "blood on their hands."

Israel is also likely to pardon arch-terrorist Muhammed Def, i.e., release him from the list of Israel's most wanted. Def is responsible for the deaths of 90 Israelis in terror attacks.

PA minister Saeb Erekat told Army Radio this morning Abu Mazen's conditions for announcing a complete cessation of violence: "If Israel releases prisoners, stops construction in the settlements, takes down the wall, and stops violence against Palestinians, then the Palestinians will promise to stop the violence."

Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz is presenting his plan to withdraw forces from five PA-controlled cities, and entrust security for Jericho, Bethlehem, Kalkilye, Tul Karem and Ramallah in the hands of the PA para-military forces. It is not clear whether these gestures will be made contingent upon the disarming of the terrorist organizations. Mofaz said, however, that he would like to see how the PA handles one city before receiving control of the others.

IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Gen. Dan Halutz said yesterday that if Israel receives concrete intelligence on a terrorist's plans to perpetrate an attack, Israel will transfer the information to the PA forces. Only if no action is taken by the PA will the IDF deal with the threat, Halutz said.

Shimon Peres continues to show his ever-cautious optimism, telling Army Radio this morning, "Arafat, in recent years, I don't know if he initiated terror acts, but he certainly didn't prevent them. But now we have a Palestinian leader who is genuinely trying to prevent them... It's a different situation."

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and King Abdullah of Jordan are expected to announce, during the summit, the return of their ambassadors to Israel.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice will be let in on the decisions during her visit to Israel at the beginning of next week.

U.S. President George Bush, in his State of the Union address last night, said that Rice will discuss with Sharon and Abbas "how we and our friends can help the Palestinian people end terror and build the institutions of a peaceful, independent democratic state. To promote this democracy, I will ask Congress for $350 million to support Palestinian political, economic, and security reforms. The goal of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace is within reach - and America will help them achieve that goal."

Bush also had hints for Saudi Arabia and Egypt, saying that the former should "expand the role of its people in determining their future. And the great and proud nation of Egypt, which showed the way toward peace in the Middle East, can now show the way toward democracy in the Middle East." He had stronger words for Syria and Iran, saying that the U.S. "must confront regimes that continue to harbor terrorists and pursue weapons of mass murder. Syria still allows its territory, and parts of Lebanon, to be used by terrorists who seek to destroy every chance of peace in the region. You [Congress] have passed - and we are applying - the Syrian Accountability Act, and we expect the Syrian government to end all support for terror and open the door to freedom. Today, Iran remains the world's primary state sponsor of terror, pursuing nuclear weapons while depriving its people of the freedom they seek and deserve. We are working with European allies to make clear to the Iranian regime that it must give up its uranium enrichment program and any plutonium reprocessing and end its support for terror."

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