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Cease-Fire Agreement Expected in Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

An historic agreement is expected to be announced Tuesday that calls for a cease-fire in the more-than-four-year Palestinian intifada. That may mark a major turning point in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The announcement will be made in Egypt, where President Hosni Mubarak is hosting a one-day summit involving the newly elected leader of the Palestinians and the prime minister of Israel.

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas is expected to announce an end to violence and terrorism against Israel, while Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will indicate that Israel will refrain from military action in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The agreement is the result of weeks of intense negotiations between both sides and will be announced at the conclusion of a one-day summit, Tuesday, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

The summit was arranged by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who is attending the meeting. King Abdullah of Jordan is also in the Egyptian Red Sea resort for the summit.

Egyptian officials say the agreement will not involve an official signing ceremony and that the announcements will be made separately by the two leaders.

It is the first summit since President Clinton attempted to broker a peace agreement in October, 2000, also in Sharm el-Sheikh.

The Red Sea resort has become a popular destination for tourists from around the world. And, many of those international travelers say they are very interested in the outcome of the summit here.

Thirty-nine-year-old Swiss Doctor Hans Gueten says he is pessimistic, but is hoping for the best.

"They have met so many times before. I hope this time they might come to some new ideas, which seems to be unsolvable," he said. "But, maybe, with the new leadership in Palestine, maybe they have some new ideas. And, maybe we can live eventually in peace."

Federico Lama, from Italy, says the new Palestinian leadership might be able to accomplish what, the late Yasser Arafat was unable to get. "It is what we hoped for, of course. Everybody is wanting peace for a long time," he added. "Now that Arafat has died and the power is in the hands of another person, we hope things will change."

The meeting Tuesday contains significance for Egypt and Jordan, the only two Arab states to have signed peace agreements with Israel. Both King Abdullah and President Mubarak withdrew their ambassadors to Israel in protest over Israeli military actions in the occupied territories. The summit will mark the first time President Mubarak has met face-to-face with Prime Minister Sharon, and the first time Mr. Sharon has traveled to Egypt since taking office in 2002.

It is expected to be announced, soon, that Egypt and Jordan will return their ambassadors to Israel.