BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  World: Middle East
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Wednesday, 27 February, 2002, 10:59 GMT
Mid-East diplomacy stepped up
Javier Solana
Javier Solana: Mr Sharon has expressed interest
The European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, has arrived in the Saudi city of Jeddah to discuss a Middle East peace plan proposed by Crown Prince Abdullah.

It's really up to Israel, the Palestinians, Lebanon and Syria to negotiate because it's their land

Adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah
The search for ways to calm Israeli-Palestinian violence is also being debated by the United Nations in a sign of growing international concern about the situation in the Middle East.

There has been some support for the Saudi plan, which would see Israel withdraw from the occupied territories in return for a recognition of its statehood by Arab nations.

"It is fair to say that [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon expressed interest in having more information on the content of the idea," Mr Solana said.

Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
Crown Prince Abdullah's peace proposal:
  • Israel should withdraw to pre-1967 borders and sign a peace deal with the Palestinians
  • In return, Arab states offer Israel full diplomatic relations, including security guarantees and trade relations
  • Initiative cautiously welcomed by Israel and the US

    See also:
      More detail on plan
      History in maps

  • He cut short his visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories so as to discuss the plan in Saudi Arabia.

    But an adviser to Crown Prince Abdullah cautioned that the proposal was a vision and not a blueprint for borders.

    "We are not in the real estate or zoning business," Adel al-Jubeir told the Associated Press news agency. "It's really up to Israel, the Palestinians, Lebanon and Syria to negotiate because it's their land.

    Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, speaking during a visit to Paris, welcomed the initiative.

    "This plan foresees more flexibility over Jerusalem and other subjects," Mr Peres told French state television.

    More bloodshed

    But the violence has continued, with a Palestinian man shooting dead an Israeli man early on Wednesday morning in an industrial area near Jerusalem.

    It happened hours after a 25-year-old Palestinian man was killed in an exchange of fire with Israeli troops at the Balata refugee camp near the West Bank city of Nablus.

    Yasser Arafat with his cabinet members
    Yasser Arafat has been kept at his headquarters
    Israeli and Palestinian security officials continued security talks in Tel Aviv on Wednesday.

    The talks resumed on Tuesday, with officials from both sides meeting for six hours in the presence of US officials.

    The Palestinians had suspended the security meetings after Israel refused to allow Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to leave the West Bank town of Ramallah, where he has been confined since December.

    UN debate

    The BBC's Greg Barrow at the United Nations in New York says that the Security Council is sending a signal that the international community is still engaged in the search for a peaceful settlement in the Middle East.

    But council members cannot agree on a unified approach.

    UN Security Council
    Security Council members cannot agree a course of action
    A number of speakers supported the latest proposals by Crown Prince Abdullah, but other nations re-stated entrenched positions.

    Israel declared that it was not prepared to resume negotiations with the Palestinians until there was a complete and unconditional cessation of violence, while the Palestinian observer urged the Security Council to put more pressure on Israel.

    The US delegate said Security Council action would not resolve the problems between the Palestinians and Israelis.

    If America does not want the council involved, it can always use its power of veto to stop any action it proposes.

    The BBC's Nick Childs
    "These are desperate times in the Middle East peace process"
    The BBC's Barbara Plett
    "The Israeli's are encouraged by the initiative"
    See also:

    25 Feb 02 | Middle East
    Israeli president seeks Saudi talks
    26 Feb 02 | Middle East
    Pregnant women under fire
    26 Feb 02 | Middle East
    Israel jails dissenting soldiers
    27 Feb 02 | Middle East
    What is in the Saudi peace initiative?
    Internet links:

    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

    Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.

    E-mail this story to a friend

    Links to more Middle East stories