Sarkozy at Gaza summit: Sole solution to peace is no rockets, IDF out of Gaza
Delegates at Sharm summit include leaders of U.K., Spain, Italy, Germany, Jordan, Turkey and UN.
European and Arab leaders racing to consolidate a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas pressed Sunday for an end to weapons smuggling into Gaza and for the opening of the territory to desperately needed humanitarian aid.
The summit at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheik was jointly chaired by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak. It was held amid separate truce declarations by both Israel and Hamas.
After the summit, Sarkozy stressed the need for Israel to quickly pull its forces out of Gaza, after three weeks of offensive on the Hamas-ruled territory.
"Israel should state immediately and clearly that if rocket fire will stop, the Israeli army will leave Gaza. There is no other solution to achieve peace," Sarkozy said.
Mubarak said the three weeks of fighting in Gaza between the Islamist movement Hamas and Israel showed the need for a comprehensive deal.
"We look forward to an end to this sad page. We must not lose hope in peace ... because a just and comprehensive peace is the true guarantee for the security of the region's peoples," he told a closing news conference.
King Abdullah of Jordan said an Arab peace offer dating back to 2002 must stay alive. "If we don't do this in this year, we will be back meeting again in the very near future," he added.
The summit meeting concluded that the next steps would include a humanitarian summit organized by Egypt in the coming days and the search for a way to open Gaza's sealed border crossings to allow in humanitarian aid.
Hamas earlier Sunday announced an immediate cease-fire by its militants and allied groups in Gaza, giving Israel a week to pull out its troops from the coastal territory.
Israel, which mounted an offensive against Hamas three weeks ago to halt years of rocket attacks, agreed to silence its guns and ground its aircraft early Sunday.
After the summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Sarkozy told reporters that the time has come to begin the "journey" of creating a viable reality of two states, Israel and Palestine.
While, acknowledging the difficult task ahead, Sarkozy said: "In our minds, this is the beginning of our journey."
"We should continue and we should accelerate our efforts in order to achieve a settlement based on the creation of two states, a Palestinian state living side-by-side with an Israeli state that has the right to its security," he added.
Sarkozy also said the Gaza violence was part of a worldwide conflict and suggested a conference "to lay the foundations for peace in the coming weeks."
Leaders attending the summit pressed for an end to weapons smuggling in Gaza and for the opening of the coastal territory to desperately needed humanitarian aid.
Sarkozy said at the meeting that the next steps would include a humanitarian summit organized by Egypt in the coming days and finding a way to open Gaza's sealed border crossings to allow in humanitarian aid.
A unilateral Israeli cease-fire fire began before dawn Sunday. Hamas also announced it would halt fighting from its side for one week while demanding that Israeli troops leave the territory.
At the news conference, Sarkozy said: "We have pledged to help Israel and Egypt with all the technical, military, naval and diplomatic ways to help end the smuggling of weapons into Gaza."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Sarkozy would also visit Israel after the meeting for talks with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, France's AFP news agency said.
During the meeting, Mubarak again stressed that Egypt would not accept any foreign observers on its land to monitor the contentious border.
Egypt, maintaining that it can police its own border with Gaza, has rejected the idea of any international monitoring force in its territory.
After the meeting, Mubarak is to travel to Kuwait on Monday for an Arab summit on the Gaza crisis that is expected to highlight divisions between participating states over how to end the conflict.
An Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman said the summit would try to help Egypt turn Israel's unilateral ceasefire in Gaza into a mutual agreement leading to Israeli withdrawal.
"There are some violations here or there. The aim now is to consolidate that cease-fire so that a cease-fire with a longer duration can be achieved," Hossam Zaki told the Arabic satellite channel al-Arabiya.
Zaki said the leaders wanted to discuss how to help in preventing a repetition of the Gaza conflict, in which Israeli forces killed 1,200 Palestinians. Ten Israeli soldiers and three civilians hit by rockets were killed.
"The leaders want to discuss how to help in preventing this tragedy from being repeated, and how to all work on... rebuilding Gaza," he said.
Brown: We'll send Royal Navy to help fight smuggling
Gordon Brown said Saturday that Britain had offered naval resources that could be used to help prevent arms smuggling into Gaza as part of an arrangement to end the fighting there.
Brown told reporters that France and Germany had made similiar offers in a bid to curtail the bloodshed.
In Germany, Merkel's office released a statement indicating that she, Brown and Sarkozy have sent letters to Israeli and Egyptian leaders expressing a willingness to take a series of concrete measures to combat arms smuggling.
She said they all expressed support for the efforts of the Israeli and Egyptian governments to reach a lasting cease-fire in Gaza.
European diplomats are part of a global push to calm the situation in Gaza, where more than 1,100 Palestinians have been killed since an Israeli offensive began in late December.
The Israelis said they were trying to prevent Hamas-led militants from firing rockets at civilian targets inside Israel.
The prime minister spoke as Israel's security cabinet met to vote on a unilateral cease-fire that came into effect at 2 A.M. Sunday morning.