Woman Settler Killed in West Bank; Mubarak Warns of ''Chaos''; EU Endorses French Proposal for Mideast Peace

Published February 10th, 2002 - 02:00 GMT

A woman settler was killed on Saturday night and her son was lightly injured when Palestinians opened fire on their vehicle south of the West Bank city of Nablus.  

 

The shooting attack took place next to the village of Marda. The son, who was in the driver's seat, managed to continue driving for several more kilometers, where Israeli rescue services attempted to revive the woman, but to no avail. The son was taken to a hospital in central Israel for further treatment. 

 

Mubarak 

 

Meanwhile, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak warned on Saturday that "chaos" would erupt in the Middle East region, if Palestinian President Yasser Arafat were to be harmed, according to AP.  

 

“If, by misfortune, the slightest thing happens to President Arafat, it would be terrible,” he told reporters after meeting with French President Jacques Chirac. “Chaos would sweep through all the states in the region, including the countries that support Israel.”  

 

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has sought to sideline Yasser Arafat diplomatically, with the intent of advancing the emergence of a new Palestinian leadership. 

 

In early December, Prime Minister Sharon confined Palestinian leader Arafat under effective house arrest in the West Bank city of Ramallah, and since last month, Arafat has been unable to leave his headquarters, which are surrounded by Israeli Army tanks.  

 

Mubarak stated he maintains “permanent contact” with the Palestinian leadership and said he conversed with Yasser Arafat twice by telephone in the last week.  

 

However, Mubarak added that he “does not defend any one person in particular, simply the cause of peace and stability in the region”.  

 

For his part, President Chirac restated his call for new dialogue in the Middle East.  

 

“It is absolutely necessary to emerge from this impasse. For that, we must rediscover a political perspective which will allow the return of the parties to the negotiating table,” French President Chirac said in a statement by the presidential Elysee Palace.  

 

EU 

 

The European Union on Saturday endorsed a French proposal for Mideast peace calling for Palestinian elections and the establishment of a Palestinian state to be "immediately" recognized by Israel and admitted to the United Nations.  

 

Establishment of such a state must be the "starting point of a negotiating process" for a Mideast peace accord, French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine told his EU colleagues.  

 

Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Pique, the meeting's chairman, said the plan would be developed further in talks among the 15 EU foreign ministers and at a mid-March European summit in Barcelona.  

 

This support put the EU at odds with Washington which has upset European capitals by its hands-off attitude toward Mideast peace talks and what is seen in Europe as an increasingly pro-Israel bent.  

 

The United States has already dismissed the French ideas to break the Middle East peace stalemate, emphasizing the need to stick to plans already on the table and to maintain pressure on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.  

 

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher declared the U.S administration was sticking to two plans worked out last year by CIA Director George Tenet and former US senator George Mitchell to end the violence, adopt confidence-building measures and restart the peace process. (Albawaba.com) 

© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)


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