A source close to Sharon on Wednesday said the date of the summit had yet to be finalised.

But according to Palestinian and Israeli sources, the meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 16 March.

It would be the first such encounter between the two since Quraya took over in October from his predecessor Mahmud Abbas, who had two meetings with Sharon during his four month as prime minister.

The agenda for the summit will be finalised at a meeting of the two premier’s bureau chiefs on Sunday.

Palestinians are expected to raise the issue of the concrete barrier Israel is constructing, slicing off parts of the occupied West Bank, said Aljazeera.net's West Bank correspondent Khalid Amayreh.

The separation barrier cuts off some of the most fertile areas of the West Bank and separates thousands of Palestinian farmers from their land.

Gaza withdrawal 

Sharon's so-called disengagement plan from the occupied Gaza Strip will also dominate talks, he said.

For its part, Israel is expected to reiterate demands for the Palestinian Authority to crackdown on resistance fighters spearheading the Intifada against the continued occupation, reported Amayreh.

However, the meeting may not take place if Israel continues to carry out invasions into parts of the occupied territories, he said.

The wall separates thousands of
Palestinians from their towns

"This meeting is not a reflection of narrowing differences" between the two sides, he stressed, adding it came due to increased international pressure.

There has been no change in Israel's policy regarding the separation barrier, added Amayreh.

Israel's decision to halt construction of the eastern section of the barrier was due to a funding problem and not a political consideration, he said, echoing the views of other analysts such as Uri Avnery.

White House visit

Sources close to Sharon have said he wants to hold talks to smooth the way for a White House meeting expected in late March or early April. 

Sharon is due to meet visiting US envoys on Thursday.
 
For his part, Quraya has said he wants assurances a meeting with Sharon will yield benefits for the Palestinians, such as an easing of Israel's military crackdown in Palestinian areas.

Sharon has refused to make such guarantees.

Egyptian intelligence

Also on Wednesday, Egyptian intelligence chief Umar Sulayman met in Ram Allah for talks with Arafat, as Cairo's involvement in the Middle East peace process deepened. 

Sulayman made no comment to reporters as he entered Arafat's Ram Allah headquarters, known as the Muqataa, alongside Arafat's national security adviser Jibril Rajub. 

Sulayman, who has been at the forefront to persuade Palestinian armed factions to agree to a ceasefire, had met Sharon on Monday night.