Jordan, Egypt to Respond to Israeli Reservations on their Joint Peace Plan Wednesday
Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdel-Ilah Khatib is to send an emissary to his Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres on Wednesday with Jordan's and Egypt's response to Israeli reservations on their peace initiative, reported the Jerusalem Post newspaper.
The initiative was formally presented to Israel by Khatib on his visit to Jerusalem last month.
It has since received a great deal of international support.
Peres went to Cairo and Aqaba at the end of last month with Israel's response to the initiative.
Like the Mitchell Committee, the Egyptian-Jordanian initiative calls for cessation of the escalating violence in the Palestinian territories and a complete settlement freeze.
But contrary to the Mitchell report, the initiative called almost exclusively upon Israel to take confidence-building measures, such as lifting its "military and economic siege" of the West Bank, Gaza, and east Jerusalem, withdrawing to positions it held before the outbreak of the Intifada in September, and transferring revenues it has held up to the Palestinian Authority.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was opposed to earlier versions of the initiative because it set a firm timetable for reaching a final-status agreement, according to the paper.
He was opposed both to the idea of a timetable and to the idea of reaching a final-status agreement. His strategy is apparently to reach long-term interim agreements.
Meanwhile, Israel formally responded to the Mitchell report on Tuesday, saying it views the report in a positive light and sees it as both "constructive" and an attempt to be balanced, the paper said.
At the same time, it rejected the call for freezing Jewish settlements, saying that “to do so would be to give a prize to terrorism.”
Israel also rejected claims that “it is using excessive force in dealing with the violence,” the paper noted.
Peres, at a meeting of spokesmen from a number of different ministries and the Israeli army, said there were many positive elements in the report, even if Israel could not accept a settlement freeze.
"This is one of the more balanced documents on the diplomatic agenda today," Peres said, adding that it could provide an opportunity to improve the situation and present a workable formula for getting back to negotiations – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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