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Israeli, Palestinian Leaders to Attend Peace Summit

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Abbas New Leader of Palestinians
The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

February 2, 2005

Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and Ariel Sharon, Prime Minister of Israel, will meet face-to-face in a peace summit on February 8 in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt. Also attending will be King Abdullah II of Jordan and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

The main focus will be the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Also thought to be on the agenda is discussions between Sharon and Mubarak, something that hasn't happened since Sharon became prime minister in 2001.

Both Israelis and Palestinians want a peaceful resolution to the raging conflict, for the most part. (Some factions maintain that violence is the only answer to the age-old problem.) A main point of contention now is Israel's promised withdrawal from a large number of West Bank settlements that Palestinians say encroached on their territory. Sharon has repeatedly said that such a withdrawal is a high priority, but he has met with opposition in his own political party and government for such a plan. The Gaza Strip, another area of conflicting territorial claims, is rife with troops from both sides.

New American Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is expected in the Middle East this coming weekend. It is not clear yet whether she will attend the summit.

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