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Tuesday, 17 September, 2002, 21:09 GMT 22:09 UK
Attempt to relaunch Mid-East peace
From left, Colin Powell, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, the UN's Kofi Annan and Per Stig Moeller of the EU
The quartet has been trying to reach consensus for months
Senior diplomats who make up the international "quartet" on the Middle East conflict are attempting to re-launch the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

Representing the United Nations, Secretary General Kofi Annan sketched out the quartet's plan.

He described it as a "road map" which envisages Palestinian security reform and elections, Israeli troop withdrawals and finally the creation of a Palestinian state.

United States, European Union, Russian and UN representatives have been consulting Israelis, Palestinians and foreign ministers from several Arab states, in New York.

Three phases

In the initial phase, from now until the first half of 2003, the plan proposes comprehensive Palestinian security reform; Israeli withdrawals to their positions of September 2000 as security improves; and Palestinian elections in early in 2003.

Quartet plan
Phase 1 (2003): Palestinian elections, security reform, Israel pull back, humanitarian initiatives, security agreement
Phase 2: Palestinian state created
Phase 3 (2004-2005): Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on permanent status solution
The first phase would also include various humanitarian, development and rebuilding initiatives in Gaza and the West Bank.

The quartet's communiqué warned that for the plan to succeed, a strict monitoring regime had to be established to ensure compliance by both Israel and the Palestinians.

It also called for an Israeli-Palestinian security agreement ahead of Palestinian elections in January.

In the second phase, the quartet would look into options for creating a Palestinian state with provisional borders, "as a way station to a permanent status settlement", the communiqué said.

In its final phase, from 2004 to 2005, the plan proposes Israeli-Palestinian negotiations aimed at a permanent status solution in 2005.

The group urged Israel to take steps to move to improve the living conditions of Palestinians and called for the immediate end to settlement building in the occupied territories.

It also called on Israel to ensure "full, safe and unfettered access for international and humanitarian personnel".

Plan welcomed

The members of the quartet are Mr Annan, US Secretary of State Colin Powell, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and representing the EU, its current President, Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller, its foreign policy chief Javier Solana, and the external affairs commissioner, Chris Patten.

In early reaction to the plan, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, who is in New York, said he was satisfied.

"As far we are concerned, we approved the role of the quartet," Mr Peres told reporters.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is believed to be critical of an EU proposal earlier in September on which the quartet's plan is partly based.

Mr Sharon was reported to have deep reservations about the plan and consider the timetable unrealistic.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Moasher and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said they were disappointed that the plan did not propose clearer timetable, but still welcomed it.

Mr Powell said there had been no change in US position that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat should resign or be replaced.

He commented that some Palestinian politicians had begun to oppose his rule.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
"A process that is both performance drive and hope driven"

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See also:

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