w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m April 13, 2005
Israeli and Palestinian mayors gather to declare civilian truce By The Associated Press
Israeli and Palestinian mayors gathered in the West Bank city of Jericho on Wednesday to show support for the cease-fire and encourage a return to the negotiating table.
20 Israeli and 12 Palestinian mayors said they came to Jericho to declare a "civilian truce" between the Israelis and Palestinians represented by the mayors at the gathering.
"We know at the end of all wars, we've got to sit together and live together, so let's do it as soon as possible," said Eli Moyal, the mayor of Sderot, a frequent target of Palestinian rocket fire from the nearby Gaza Strip.
"There is a wind of peace heading our way and we must work to make it stronger, and that's why we're here," he said.
Jericho mayor Hassan Saleh, the host of the event, said it was time to take a more peaceful path to Palestinian statehood.
"We have both paid a heavy price... good neighbors will not come with occupation, it will not come with checkpoints, it will not come with killing or rockets or bombings," Saleh said.
At the end of the two-hour gathering, the mayors released a joint statement expressing sorrow and regret for all lives lost in the decades of conflict and reiterated their support for a two-state solution.
"We reject all acts of violence against innocent civilians on both sides and the only way to move forward is to stop the violence and bloodshed, and we call on the two sides to declare a year-long truce," the statement said.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas declared a halt to more than four years of bloodshed at a summit in Sharm El-Sheikh in February.