Erekat: Abbas doubles efforts to reinforce ceasefire

By Xinhua

Ramallah : Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas intensifies efforts to reinforce a mutual ceasefire with Israel covering West Bank and the Gaza Strip, negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Thursday.

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“President Abbas exerts great efforts to reinforce a mutual, full and coincident truce in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,” Erekat told Voice of Palestine radio.

Erekat revealed that Abbas discussed the ceasefire issue during his Wednesday meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo.

A series of Israeli air strikes killed 18 Palestinians, including four children into Gaza Strip, while the Israeli army killed two militants in West Bank city of Nablus.

“The crimes must be stopped and the calmness should be reinforced as soon as possible to push the peace process,” Erekat said.

The peace talks between the two sides, launched at a U.S.-hosted peace conference in last November, don’t make progress due to the continuation of violence and the building of settlements in the West Bank, according to the Palestinian side.

“Israel is wrong if it thinks it can ensure its security by aggressions, assassinations, detentions, expanding the settlements and building the wall in the West Bank,” according to Erekat.

In a bid to stir up the peace talks, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will arrive in the territories and is scheduled to meet President Abbas next Tuesday, Erekat said.