Egypt calls for calm in Gaza after militant pledge


Reuters
Date: 09-28-05

CAIRO, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Israel should respond to commitments from Palestinian groups, including the militants, and stop shelling the Gaza Strip, Egypt said on Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Egypt was in contact with both sides "to contain the deteriorating situation in Gaza and stop the Israeli shelling of the sector".

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had talks on Wednesday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who came to seek his intervention after days of renewed violence.

An Egyptian Foreign Ministry statement quoted Aboul Gheit as saying: "Israel needs to respond to the positive steps taken by the Palestinian parties, especially Hamas's announcement that it is stopping its attacks on Israel and Islamic Jihad's renewal of a period of calm under the Cairo agreement (in March)."

Egypt has contacted the United States, the European Union and Russia for help in its efforts to persuade the Israelis and Palestinians to respect their commitments, it added.

Israel fired more missiles into Gaza and knocked out power to thousands of Palestinians on Wednesday in an offensive against cross-border rocket volleys by militants, two weeks after its withdrawal from the territory.

But no rocket launchings were reported during the day, after a pledge by militant groups to halt attacks condemned by the Palestinian Authority (PA) as harming the national interest.

With little prospect for progress soon along a peace "road map", Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said a meeting set for Oct. 2 between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had been postponed. He gave no new date for the summit.

The summit had been scheduled for Sunday but the surge in violence in recent days had cast doubt on the meeting.

"The Israeli side got in touch and this meeting was postponed. We don't want the meeting just for the sake of meeting. On the contrary, we want a meeting that is well prepared," Erekat told reporters in Cairo.

Erekat called on Israel to resume immediately negotiations with the Palestinians on "final status" issues -- including the borders of a Palestinian state, Jerusalem and refugees.

The Israeli government says the priority must be for Abbas and the Palestinian Authority to dismantle militant organisations such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Source

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