Abu Ala and Sharon to meet within days

12 December 2003
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Palestinian counterpart Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) will meet within seven days, reported the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot. In an interview with Abu Ala published in the newspaper, Abu Ala confirmed that the two would meet - a point later ratified by Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Silvan Shalom. In his interview, Abu Ala said that he was going into the meeting with the clear aim of reaching a final agreement. 'I want to come out with results,' he said. 'I want a positive message for both the Palestinians and the Israelis.'

The news of a meeting between Sharon and Abu Ala came as about 40,000 Palestinians took to the streets in the Gaza Strip to celebrate the 16th anniversary of the creation of the militant Islamist group Hamas. As crowds swept thought the Jabalya refugee camp in the north of the strip, Hamas' spiritual leader told the gathered crowds: 'We will never make concessions on our absolute right to the whole of the Holy Land, to the whole of Jerusalem and to the right of return of all our refugees.'

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