The road map for peace envisages Palestinian statehood by 2005. The Israeli Prime Minister, Mr. Ariel Sharon, and the Palestinian Prime Minister, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, declared their political support for the peace road map evolved by the US. Both leaders vowed to take care of citizens in the other camp. Mr. Abbas announced his intent to end the 'Intifada' (armed uprising) against the Israelis. On his part, Mr. Sharon went to considerable length to accommodate Palestinian concerns. Palestinians have been demanding that the Israelis pull out Jewish settlements from the Palestinian administered areas of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. He signaled his intent to dismantle at least some of the controversial settler colonies situated in considerable depth, mainly inside the Palestinian West Bank area.
On June 29, 2003, Palestinian radical groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, announced a three month halt to attacks on Israel. The development came as the US National Security Adviser, Ms. Condoleezza Rice, held crucial discussions with the Israeli and Palestinian Prime Ministers in a bid to push both sides towards implementation for the 'road map' for peace. "The two movements decided to suspend military operations against the Zionist enemy for three months, starting today," the Hamas leader, Mr. Abdel Aziz Rantisi, who was the target of an Israeli assassination attempt earlier June, was quoted by the Israeli media as saying. However, there was still no announcement from the third group, Mr. Yasser Arafat's Fatah, which is believed to be wrangling over the wordings of the truce.
US invites Palestinian PM to Washington: Ms. Condoleezza Rice invited the Palestinian Prime Minister, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, to visit Washington in the next few weeks to meet President Bush, a senior Palestinian official said. The militants' ceasefire has given a major push to the U.S.-sponsored peace initiative, which got off to a rocky start because of continuing violence. The 'road map' plan for Palestinian statehood, launched by the U.S. President, George W. Bush, on June 4, 2003, is the latest effort to end the generations-old conflict. Intensive meetings were held between Islamic Jihad, the larger Hamas group and Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction to work out the final wording of an official ceasefire declaration.
At least one Palestinian faction, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine appeared to be holding out as a Palestinian negotiator tried to persuade the group's jailed leader to accept the deal, a Palestinian official said on condition of anonymity. Expectations were that the group would sign on. A statement issued in the name of another militia, the al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades said the group also had not yet committed itself to the ceasefire, apparently because there was no Israeli guarantee on the release of Palestinian prisoners. The statement from some of the militia's local West Bank leaders, however, did not necessarily represent the views of the whole group.
Pull out: In another sign that the peace effort was moving forward, Israel agreed to pull troops out of parts of Gaza Strip and the West Bank town of Bethlehem. The 'road map' peace plan requires Israeli forces to pull back to positions held before the outbreak of fighting in September 2000. The initial agreement on an Israeli troop withdrawal from Gaza and West Bank town of Bethlehem came with a pledge by Israel to halt targeted killings of Palestinian militants, sources said. That is one of the Palestinian militants' key demands for going ahead with a ceasefire. At its weekly meeting, Mr. Arafat's Fatah movement approved the agreement with Israelis on a troop pull back. The pullout started on June 29, 2003 from northern Gaza and from the West Bank town of Bethlehem three days later.