Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is speaking "a different language" to Palestinians, and that the two sides are embarking on a "new era" after more than four years of violence.
In an interview with The New York Times published Monday, Mr. Abbas praised Mr. Sharon for his commitment to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and four small West Bank settlements.
Mr. Abbas, who was elected president of the Palestinian Authority last month, said the Israeli leader "now has a partner" to work with for peace.
Mr. Abbas said he has set the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails as his first priority. Sunday, an Israeli Cabinet committee approved the release of 500 Palestinian prisoners.
Some information for this report provided by Reuters.