Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Friday that the European peace initiative contained “Good points” that should be studied further. Israel’s rejection of the proposal, he said, “Is proof that Israel doesn’t want any form of stability or quiet in the region.”
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who is close to Abbas, said any international peace initiative was welcome, but he stopped short of a warm endorsement of the new one. “We don’t need to reinvent the wheel; we don’t need a new initiative. What we need is a mechanism for implementation and timelines,” he said.
On Thursday French President Jacques Chirac announced that his country, in cooperation with Spain and Italy, are drafting a new diplomatic initiative for the Middle East.
Ismail Haniyeh on Friday (Photo: Reuters)
The new plan includes five elements: An immediate ceasefire, the formation of a Palestinian unity government that would be able to receive international recognition, prisoner exchange between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (including the three kidnapped Israeli soldiers), talks between the Israeli prime minister and his Palestinian counterpart, and an international force that will deploy in Gaza and reinforce the ceasefire.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry rejected the plan, saying, “The European Union initiative is not supported by the international community as a whole.
In addition, officials said, Israel prefers direct dialogue with the Palestinians over mediation by foreign elements ‘that will only complicate matters.’