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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Mubarak calls for alternative to road map Israel-PA peace plan

Last update - 09:39 14/01/2007   

Mubarak calls for alternative to road map Israel-PA peace plan
By The Associated Press

Egypt questioned Saturday the effectiveness of the "road map" to bring peace between Israelis and Palestinians, with President Hosni Mubarak's office saying the Egyptian leader sent a letter to the White House with a counterproposal.
Established in 2003, the U.S.-backed "road map" calls for the dismantling of Palestinian terror groups, a freezing of Israeli settlement activity and the creation of a provisional Palestinian state before a final deal is signed.
But the Palestinians have rejected the idea of a provisional state, believing it would enable Israel to usurp much of the West Bank, where Israel is pressing ahead with West Bank settlement construction.
Egypt, a regional heavyweight and a top U.S. ally, is a regular mediator in the crisis and is leading efforts to reconcile Palestinian factions whose weeks of deadly fighting have further stalled negotiations for a broader settlement with Israel.
"The last few years proved that unilateral steps ... didn't work out, and its time to talk about a comprehensive peace agreement between the Palestinian and the Israeli sides," Egyptian presidential spokesman Suleiman Awaad told reporters Saturday.
Only broader talks will put the long-stalled peace process in motion again, said the presidential spokesman.
He said Mubarak has sent a letter to U.S. President George W. Bush carrying details of a new Egyptian peace proposal as an alternative to the road map, which he described as having failed.
"The road map stumbled on its first stage, so how about the second phase?" Awaad said.
The spokesman did not describe Mubarak's new proposal, but said the Egyptian leader would discuss it on Monday with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He said Mubarak's new plan aims at "breaking the frozen peace process."
On her first stop of a weeklong Mideast tour, Rice said Saturday in Israel that she had no new sweeping initiatives in hand for resolving the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"I'm not coming with a proposal, I'm not coming with a plan," she said, ahead of her meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
The Egyptian spokesman warned against a plan proposed recently by the Israeli foreign minister that calls for establishing a provisional Palestinian state with a border following the contentious barrier Israel is building along the West Bank.
"Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian brothers are mindful that by establishing a Palestinian state with temporary borders, such state will always remain provisional," Awaad said.

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