The Sharm El Sheikh Summit of 2005 took place on 8 February, when four Middle Eastern leaders gathered at Sharm El Sheikh, in the Sinai Peninsula, in an effort to end the four-year Al-Aqsa Intifada. The four leaders were Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and King Abdullah II of Jordan.
Sharon and Abbas explicitly undertook to cease all violence against each other's peoples, marking a formal end to the Al-Aqsa Intifada and to move on in the Road map for peace process. Sharon also agreed to release 900 Palestinian prisoners of the 7,500 being held at the time, and to withdraw from West Bank towns. However, the violence continued into the following years, though suicide bombings decreased significantly. By the spring of 2005, 500 of the prisoners had been released, but after Qassam rocket attacks on Sderot on 5 May, Sharon stopped the release of the remaining 400, saying the Palestinian Authority needs to rein in the militants.
The Al-Aqsa Intifada, which began in September 2000, left over 5,000 Palestinian and Israeli casualties and took extensive toll on both economies and societies. The cycle of violence persisted throughout this period, except for the short-lived Hudna in mid-2003.
Neither side was willing to negotiate until there was a halt to violence. Yasser Arafat, the man thought by many to have engineered the intifada and to have kept it alive, died in November 2004. The Palestinian presidential election to elect Arafat's successor was held on 9 January 2005 and confirmed Mahmoud Abbas as President of the Palestinian Authority. His initial efforts were to bring order to the anarchy of the Palestinian territories and halt attacks against Israel. Ariel Sharon changed his attitude towards negotiations and ordered a significant reduction of Israeli military activity in the Palestinian territories and took many measures to help Palestinian civilians.
The summit began with a series of meetings between Sharon and Mubarak, King Abdullah and Abbas. Later, all leaders except King Abdullah read statements reaffirming their commitment to continued efforts to stabilize the situation and to move on in the Road map for peace process.
Sharon and Abbas explicitly included an intended cessation of all violent activity against each other's peoples in their closing statements, marking a formal end to the Al-Aqsa Intifada. Sharon also agreed to release 900 Palestinian prisoners and to withdraw from West Bank towns.
A 2007 report entitled "Quiet, We're Disengaging! Israeli Media Coverage of the Tense Ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian Authority Following the Sharm El Sheikh Understandings" by the Israeli media monitoring NGO Keshev (trans. "Awareness"):
the Israeli media played down Israeli violations of the Sharm El Sheikh understandings and highlighted Palestinian violations.
Criticism of Israel, by Palestinian, Israeli and international actors, appeared infrequently and always on the margins of the news. Criticism of Palestinians, by contrast, was covered profusely. In general, policy questions concerning Israeli violations of the ceasefire received secondary attention, as the media coverage mainly focused on the disengagement plan.
These patterns of coverage and editing, which broadly covered each Palestinian attack on Israelis, provided media consumers with a clear and unequivocal situation report: Israel is abiding by its commitments and in the vast majority of cases it is not endangering the ceasefire. The Palestinian Authority, on the other hand, is consistently breaking its commitments and its leader, Abu Mazen [Abbas], does not want or cannot keep the ceasefire for any length of time. The ceasefire is therefore bound to collapse - and the Palestinians bear exclusive responsibility for this.
The report also notes:
In this sense, the Israeli media continues to operate according to the prevailing established point of view, according to which the Palestinian Authority is not a "partner". This perspective also forms the basis for the unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip.
We have agreed with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to stop all acts of violence against Israelis and Palestinians, wherever they are. ... [w]e have announced today not only represents the implementation of the first articles of the roadmap....
Today, in my meeting with Chairman Abbas, we agreed that all Palestinians will stop all acts of violence against all Israelis everywhere and, in parallel, Israel will cease all its military activity against all Palestinians anywhere. ... The disengagement plan can pave the way to implementation of the roadmap, to which we are committed and which we want to implement.