"We believe an opportunity to promote the peace process ahead of the international conference in November has been created. We urge the prime minister to make the greatest effort to reach substantial agreements with the PLO head and not miss this opportunity," prominent Israeli intellectuals wrote in a petition addressed to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
The petition, which called on Olmert to reach an agreement with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, was written in cooperation with the Geneva Initiative organization and was signed by AB Yehoshua, Amoz Oz, David Grossman, Meir Shalev, Yehudit Katzir, Eli Amir, Yeshua Sobol, Esti G Chaim, Professor Alice Shalvi and Dorit Rabinyan, Savion Librecht.
In the petition titled, "Deal with Abu Mazen (Abbas), negotiate for ceasefire with Hamas," the intellectuals urged the Israeli government to hold talks with Hamas in order to put an end to Qassam rocket attacks.
"The continued Qassam attacks from the Gaza Strip are intolerable. Israel has in the past negotiated with its toughest enemies, and also now it is negotiating, and rightfully so, with Hamas in order to bring home Gilad Shalit.
"These talks must include an attempt to reach a complete ceasefire, without preconditions. An end to the mutual attacks would give the residents of the western Negev a sense of security, would spare the Gaza vicinity residents any further suffering, and would increase the political process' chances of succeeding."
The petition came a few days after Israel declared the Gaza Strip, which is run by Hamas, a hostile entity. Hamas in return called this decision Israel's "declaration of war". Nonetheless, there have been reports of efforts to reach a ceasefire through talks.