Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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5 Iyar 5762 - April 17, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Home and Family
Sharon Proposes Mideast Peace Summit
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon proposed in talks with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell that an international peace summit be convened to discuss the Middle East.

"I said we are ready to have a regional conference in which a number of countries would participate: Israel, Egypt, the Saudis, Jordan, Morocco and Palestinian representatives. It doesn't have to be limited to these," Sharon said.

"The conference would be hosted by the United States. . . . I estimate that within a short period of time the conference will indeed convene," added Sharon, who first proposed the idea before last month's Arab summit in Beirut and again in the Knesset. It was not clear if heads of state would participate in the conference or foreign ministers.

Sharon said after the meeting with Powell that his proposal for a U.S.-hosted regional peace conference was acceptable to the United States.

White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card said that the White House expects that Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia will contribute to reaching a comprehensive peace treaty in the Middle East. According to Card, the time has come for the leaders of the aforementioned states to assist Arafat in choosing the path of negotitions.

During the meeting held in Tel Aviv, the secretary of state briefed Sharon on his earlier meeting with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat in Ramallah. Powell urged Sharon to withdraw IDF troops from Palestinian areas.

Earlier, Powell met with President Moshe Katsav and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak to discuss his talks with Yasser Arafat.

Emerging from the three-hour meeting with Arafat in Ramallah, Powell said he had "useful and constructive" talks with the PA Chairman. There was no immediate indication, however, that the meeting had brought an elusive truce any closer.

U.S. Secretary of State Powell was scheduled to pay unscheduled visits to Beirut and Damascus on Monday as part of his effort to bring about a cessation of hostilities in the Middle East, the Lebanese government said.

His visit comes after a week during which Hezbollah has been firing rockets on a daily basis at IDF posts in the Shebaa Farms area in southern Lebanon, and Israel has responded with artillery bombardments and airstrikes on Lebanon. The UN has determined that the area is not part of Lebanon, but Hizbullah disputes this.

The conference proposal is an apparent attempt by Sharon to seize the initiative to influence the future course of events. In order to be successful, it will have to be taken up by others, especially the U.S. So far this has not happened.


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