Haaretz: Ramon, Arafat’s Advisor Proposed ‘Ceasefire’ Plan

Published May 10th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Israeli Labor MK Haim Ramon, and Mohammed Rashid, economic adviser to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, have formulated a ceasefire plan to enable the resumption of negotiations, reported Haaretz newspaper on Thursday.  

The central proposal in the plan involves a one-third Israeli withdrawal in the West Bank, totaling some 10-15 percent of the territory, said the paper.  

But neither Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon nor Arafat have agreed to this idea. 

The plan was presented to Omri, Sharon’s son, who has served as an unofficial envoy to the PA on behalf of his father.  

Omri Sharon said he would present the plan to his father, but added that the decision was the prime minister's to make, the paper quoted him as saying. 

Rashid and Omri Sharon hold regular meetings, and the Palestinian official also participates in meetings between Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian Parliament Speaker Ahmed Qorei, said the paper. 

The plan has also been presented to Peres and EU envoys to the area, Javier Solana and Miguel Moratinos. 

In another development, Sharon is expected to depart for a series of meetings in European capitals.  

Sharon received an official invitation from French President Jacques Chirac to visit the French capital. The invitation was presented to Sharon by the special French envoy, Yves Aubin de la Mussuziere, head of the Middle East section at the French Foreign Ministry, Haaretz said. 

In the meantime, Peres has also been preparing the way for a Sharon visit to Europe, and called on the EU to “forcefully condemn Palestinian terrorism.”  

Peres on Wednesday told his German counterpart, Joschka Fischer, that a “European condemnation similar to that of the US could serve to convince Arafat that violence is not the answer to the conflict.” 

The European nations, especially France, are interested in stepping up their role in the area, and de la Mussuziere brought with him a message to that effect for Sharon.  

In his message, Chirac expressed France's deep concern over the continuing violence and his support for the resumption of the diplomatic dialogue.  

The French president emphasized his support for the joint Egyptian-Jordanian initiative and his personal wish to strengthen the dialogue with Sharon, the paper added. 

The French envoy passed a similar message to Arafat and is planning to meet with Israel’s Foreign Ministry director, Avi Gil. 

In an unofficial meeting of EU foreign ministers over the weekend, French Foreign Minister Hubert Vendrine suggested that Europe needed to coordinate a more active diplomatic role in the Middle East with Washington. 

A French source said on Wednesday that France was opposed to economic sanctions as a means of imposing diplomatic pressure.  

The same source rejected claims in the press that the recommendations were used as diplomatic leverage to undermine the economic agreements between Israel and the EU, the paper added. 

According to the same source, Vendrine suggested that Europe take advantage of its economic means to provide economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority, and utilize its trade agreements with Israel in order to play a more effective and active role in the region. 

Meanwhile, Sharon’s office is preparing a public relations campaign abroad. 

"In light of the importance of public relations in our day, a brain-storming session was held in which different persons participated, among them internal ministerial staff and external professionals," a statement by Sharon’s office said, cited by the paper. 

However, a dispute has arisen between the director-general of Sharon’s office Rafi Peled and Gil about which body will run the public relations campaign – Albawaba.com 


© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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