Palestinians Reject any Fundamental Change to Egypt-Jordan Peace Plan
Palestinian officials said on Wednesday they rejected any fundamental changes to a peace plan put forward by Jordan and Egypt, said AFP.
"We have heard that the Israelis want to make modifications to this plan, but we will accept no fundamental change to this initiative," international cooperation minister Nabil Shaath told Voice of Palestine radio.
His comments came as Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that he will send Foreign Minister Shimon Peres to Cairo to discuss Israel's response to the Egypt-Jordan initiative, which is aimed at quelling seven months of deadly violence and putting the peace process back on track.
Legislative council speaker Ahmed Qorei also told the radio that the Palestinian Authority would not accept amendments that would change the "basics of the plan."
"The European Union has adopted this initiative, while the Americans, without accepting it, are considering it seriously," Shaath added.
According to the Israeli media, the plan calls for steps to rebuild confidence, including a halt to Israel's settlement activities, a lifting of the blockade and a troop withdrawal to positions before the outbreak of the violence late September.
The Palestinians would guarantee a renewal of security cooperation and end incitement to violence. After a period of calm, negotiations would resume on a final status agreement, based on "progress" so far, with a deadline of one year.
SHARON TO SEND PERES TO EGYPT OVER ARAB PEACE PLAN
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will send Foreign Minister Shimon Peres to Egypt to discuss Israel's response to the Egyptian-Jordanian diplomatic initiative aimed at restarting negotiations with the Palestinians, reported The Jerusalem Post newspaper on Wednesday.
Sharon, in an interview with the paper, said that Peres will travel to Egypt before his planned visit to Washington next week.
In the interview, which will be published in full in Friday's paper, the prime minister also revealed that Israel is holding high-level economic discussions with the Palestinians concerning a number of large projects, including joint use of Israel's planned water desalination plant, improving the water supply to Hebron and Kiryat Arba, and a Gaza-Tulkarm train line.
"Initiatives are important," said Sharon, referring to the Egyptian-Jordanian plan.
"We received a proposal. We think it needs some changes and improvements. We're working on it now, and I thought it would be good idea if he [Peres] went to Egypt and explained our position."
According to Sharon, talks should not be considered as negotiations but rather as an attempt to put a stop to the current violence.
Peres, said Sharon, will tell the Egyptians that before anything else, there has to be "an end to terror, of all kinds, and not just mortars," said the paper.
Stressing that there "will be no diplomatic negotiations under fire," the prime minister added "we have an interest in economic talks that are important to both sides, for example the water desalination plant, the train line - I have an interest in them riding in a train rather than on crowded roads."
Meanwhile, Sharon revealed that there will be a meeting this week between Peres and National Infrastructure Minister Avigdor Lieberman with a Palestinian official where the issue of improving the water supply to Hebron and Kiryat Arba was agreed upon.
Such talks, he said, went hand in hand with his principle of looking to ease the difficulties of the vast majority of Palestinians, looking to improve their daily lot while at the same time "fighting those responsible for terror." - Albawaba.com
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