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February 8: Abbas and Sharon Meet in Egypt

February 8, 2014
meeting192Mahmoud Abbas, one month after his convincing victory in the presidential election in the Palestinian territories, met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Egypt on this date in 2005. Abbas declared an end to the four-year second Intifadah and Sharon agreed to release 500 Palestinian prisoners. The summit enabled Sharon to press ahead with his planned unilateral withdrawal of Israeli troops and settlers from Gaza, which began on August 1st. A followup meeting between Abbas and Sharon in June ended in failure, however, and Israeli-Palestinian talks scheduled for after the Gaza pull-out were cancelled after a series of terrorist attacks against Israel. Nevertheless, in a September 15th address to the United Nations’s 60th gathering of the General Assembly, Sharon called for peace and overtly recognized Palestinian “national, sovereign rights to a state of their own,” while reasserting Israel’s claims over a united Jerusalem and defending Israel’s security wall as “vitally indispensable.” Three months later, Sharon was felled by the first of two strokes that would ultimately take his life. “I call on the Palestinian leadership to show determination and leadership, and to eliminate terror, violence, and the culture of hatred from our relations. I am certain that it is within our power to present our peoples with a new and promising horizon, a horizon of hope.” -Ariel Sharon