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Israel wants 100 changes peace plan

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Feb. 20, 2003
Report: Israel wants more than 100 changes in US-backed peace plan

An Israeli newspaper reported Thursday that Israel wants more than 100 changes made to a US-backed peace plan, including erasing a key element - a timetable for moving to Palestinian statehood by 2005.

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that professional teams are working on a revised version of the so-called "road map," but government officials gave conflicting assessments on the accuracy of
Thursday's report in the Haaretz daily.

The three-stage peace plan was put together by the
so-called Quartet of Mideast mediators - the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia.

In an initial cease-fire phase, Palestinians would carry out government reforms and crack down on militants, while Israel would withdraw from Palestinian towns. In stage two, Israel would recognize a Palestinian state in temporary borders by the end of 2003, and in the last period, negotiations on full statehood would begin.

Israel objects to a timetable, saying moving from stage to stage must depend on whether the Palestinians meet their commitments. The Palestinians say the timetable is at the core of the plan, and accuse Israel of trying to evade its
obligations, including a freeze in settlement construction.

According to Haaretz, Israel also wants the Palestinians to declare in advance that they relinquish the "right of return" of Palestinian refugees to what is now Israel.

Israel also wants a "new and different leadership" as a precondition to statehood and strict limitations placed on a future Palestinian state.

In London, William Burns, a senior US State Department official, met with Palestinian Cabinet ministers on Wednesday to discuss the fate of the road map, which the Palestinians have accepted in principle. Burns told the Palestinians that discussions on the road map will only resume "after the forming of the new Israeli government, and depending on the developments in Iraq," said Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat, one of the participants.

The Palestinians asked the United States to send
international monitors in the meantime, to protect
Palestinian civilians during Israeli military offensives in the West Bank and Gaza, but Burns said Washington did not support such an idea.

The Israeli draft of the road map will be presented to Sharon's yet-to-be-formed government before it is handed to the United States, Haaretz said. Sharon has another month to put together a majority coalition.
Previous article

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