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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 June, 2003, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Mid-East foes back peace plan
George Bush watches as Abu Mazen (left) shakes hands with Ariel Sharon
It was the first time the three men had been together
A landmark Middle East summit has ended with pledges from Israel and the Palestinians to back the international peace plan known as the roadmap.

Both Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas - better known as Abu Mazen - supported the plan's vision of a Palestinian state existing in peace alongside Israel.

The two men came together in Jordan for the summit with US President George W Bush, who said progress had been made and announced that a US team would monitor the implementation of the roadmap proposals.

Reaction to the talks was hostile from armed Palestinian groups, as well as from those Israelis living in settlements built on Palestinian land who now face having their homes destroyed.

STEPS TO ROADMAP
June, 2003: US-Israeli-Palestinian summit in Jordan
May, 2003: Israel and Palestinians accept roadmap
April, 2003: US unveils roadmap peace plan
June, 2002: Bush outlines 'vision' of Israeli and Palestinian states

A BBC Middle East analyst, Roger Hardy, says the Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers committed themselves to making a fresh start, while giving away as little as possible.

Abu Mazen promised again to "act vigorously" against those who would attack Israelis and said the Palestinian uprising "must end".

"We do not ignore the suffering of the Jews throughout history. It is time to bring all this suffering to an end," he said.

Mr Sharon said it was in Israel's interest for Palestinians to govern themselves in their own state.

Settlement questions

But correspondents say there was disappointment among the Palestinian delegation that Mr Sharon said only that he understood the importance of a future Palestinian state being viable, but did not commit Israel to ensuring that outcome.

Mr Sharon said Israel would begin dismantling an unspecified number of "illegal outposts" built without authorisation by Jewish settlers in the West Bank in the past two years.

SETTLEMENTS IN THE WEST BANK AND GAZA

He spoke of new hopes for peace, but put the onus on the Palestinians to take the first key steps, as dictated by the roadmap.

He said his "paramount responsibility" was the security of the people and state of Israel and there would be no compromise with terrorists.

Mr Bush - whose first trilateral summit with the Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers followed a meeting a day earlier with Arab leaders - said: "The Holy Land must be shared between a state of Palestine and the State of Israel."

That solution would benefit the entire region, he said.

He announced that a US mission led by an experienced diplomat, John Wolf, would be set up to help both sides move towards peace and monitor the roadmap's implementation.

He added that his National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, would be his personal representative and that he had also instructed Secretary of State Colin Powell to make Middle East peace "a matter of the highest priority".

Resistance

But inside Israel and the Palestinian territories, the reaction was less positive.

ROADMAP MAIN POINTS
Phase 1 (to May 2003): End to Palestinian violence; Palestinian political reform; Israeli withdrawal and freeze on settlement expansion; Palestinian elections
Phase 2: (June-Dec 2003) Creation of an independent Palestinian state; international conference and international monitoring of compliance with roadmap
Phase 3 (2004-2005): Second international conference; permanent status agreement and end of conflict; agreement on final borders, Jerusalem, refugees and settlements; Arab states to agree to peace deals with Israel

Hamas vowed to continue its armed resistance to any Israeli occupation. A Hamas leader, Abdelaziz Rantissi, told Reuters news agency: "We will never be ready to lay down arms until the liberation of the last centimetre of the land of Palestine."

A resident of a Jewish settlement near Ramallah in the West Bank, Yaacov Kalifi, questioned what Israelis would get in return.

"Where will it end? How much do they want to take from us? They are talking about outposts. But the [larger] settlements could come next and that means trouble," he told Reuters.

Israel and the Palestinians formally accepted the peace plan last month, but they have yet to begin implementing its terms.




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