Egypt wants Palestinian borders first before Mideast talks

Daily News Egypt
4 Min Read

CAIRO: Egypt is to present the UN Security Council with a plan to reverse the timetable of the moribund roadmap for Middle East peace by fixing the borders of a Palestinian state before resuming talks. The roadmap, drafted in 2003 by the quartet of Middle East diplomatic players – United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia – was the latest peace plan aimed at ending the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The blueprint has hit countless snags, with Israel and the Palestinians failing to break the wall of distrust. The ultimate goal of the plan s last phase was the creation of a viable Palestinian state by 2005. In recent days, Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit has intensified efforts to relaunch the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in the aftermath of the Lebanon war. The roadmap should have a conclusion and that is the creation of a Palestinian state. We need to agree on the concept and the borders, and then negotiate on the means of achieving this goal, he said. Everyone must work toward the realization of the true goal of the peace process, which is to establish a Palestinian state, Abul-Gheit said. With the United Nations re-emerging as a broker in the region through its role in ending the Lebanon war and providing a peacekeeping force there, Egypt is pushing for the world body to take on the Israeli-Palestinian file. The Palestinians must agree on a government which defines a clear position towards Israel and the international community, said Abul-Gheit. In a veiled criticism to the ruling Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, the minister said there needed to be a more realistic approach to developments in the region. I cannot imagine a Palestinian group coming today to ask us to adopt a political position which takes us back decades, he said. We must assure the independence of the Palestinian decisions and we must not allow any foreign party, be it Arab or regional, to intervene in these decisions, he said referring to links between Hamas, and Iran and Syria. Egypt will present its proposal during a meeting of the Security Council at ministerial level that was called for by the Arab League. A provisional date of Sept. 21 has been set for the meeting, pending the approval of certain Security Council members, particularly the United States, Arab diplomats in Cairo told AFP. Arab countries are counting on European Union support to dissipate reservations in Washington, diplomats say. We have discussed this proposal [to hold a meeting at the Security Council] in general at the European Union and we support it, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said Sunday. Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo last week called for the establishment of an effective mechanism in order to quickly revive the negotiations and to define a timeframe and to secure international guarantees . According to analyst Emad Gad, Arab countries need Israel to commit to the peace process. Arabs want commitments from Israel to accept the [pre-] 1967 [Middle East war] borders, so that they can relaunch the peace process, said Gad, a researcher at Cairo s Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies. After the war in Lebanon, the Arab regimes found themselves in an embarrassing situation because of the halt in the peace process and they are looking for any way to relaunch it, he said. AFP

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