Suleiman with Abbas
Aboul Gheit with American envoy George Mitchell
Egypt's plan: Jerusalem Palestinian capital before talks
Al-Gomhuria newspaper reveals main principles of Egyptian initiative for permanent agreement negotiations, which will start off with Israeli recognition of 1967 borders, east Jerusalem as Palestine's capital. Palestinians, in return, to agree to thousands of new housing units in settlements
An Egyptian initiative aimed at resuming Israeli-Palestinian peace talks on a permanent agreement includes an Israeli recognition of the 1967 borders and east Jerusalem as the Palestinian state's capital even before the negotiations are launched, Egyptian newspaper al-Gomhuria reported Wednesday.
The plan also includes a possible exchange of territories and a Palestinian agreement to construction of 8,000 new housing units in Jewish settlements.
According to the report, the initiative was formed during talks held by Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman and Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit. The newspaper said the plan's details have already been relayed to the two sides in separate talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and to Saudi representatives.
Suleiman and Aboul Gheit are expected to visit Washington in two days and brief American administration officials on the initiative.
The newspaper also noted that Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal traveled to Damascus after visiting Cairo on Tuesday, and that Jordan's King Abdullah also visited Cairo and was briefed on the initiative.
The paper added that during recent Israeli-Egyptian talks, Prime Minister Netanyahu presented a series of suggestions, "which may serve as a good foundations for a dialogue with the Palestinians, in order to prevent the peace process from reaching a deadlock again."
According to the report, the Egyptian initiative – which includes proposals made by Netanyahu to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak – has a few stages:
- Removing roadblocks set up by Israel in the West Bank in order to help Palestinians move freely.
- An Israeli recognition of the 1967 borders and declaring east Jerusalem the future capital of the state of Palestine.
- Holding negotiations on the future borders, which will be followed by a discussion on other matters which have yet to be resolved by the sides, including the water and refugee issues, in a bid to reach an agreement on compensation or return.
- If the sides fail to agree on the borders, they will agree in principle on the establishment of a Palestinian state, and later discuss an exchange of territories at a ratio of 1-3%.
- The sides will engage in a series of mutual goodwill initiatives. For example, Israel will remove illegal outposts unauthorized by the government and release 500 Fatah prisoners, in order to bolster Abbas. The Palestinians, on their part, will agree to the construction of 8,000 housing units in the settlements.
According to the report, the Egyptians are considering hosting a US-brokered peace summit in the spring, as reportedly suggested by Netanyahu during his meeting with Muabarak. The summit, the paper said, will convene in March or April and will be followed by the negotiations on a permanent agreement.