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November 09, 2002

Palestinians Eager, Israel Reserved on U.S. Mission

Deconstructing the media. Note the headline. A quick read would suggest Israel not as interested in the peace plan as are the Palestinians. And yet when you read the article you learn that there is an reluctance on the part ofr Israel for a quick response because of internal political matters. Unlike the Palestinians, the Israel democracy must first resolve internal matters rather than have all issues decided by a central authority (Arafat) who has yet to make any significant reforms. As for the peace plan, how different from that which Barak had accepted and Arafat refused?
RAMALLAH, West Bank - Palestinian officials said on Friday they would formally respond to a U.S.-sponsored peace plan within days, but Israelis indicated their response would be delayed by the collapse of their coalition government.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield is due in the Middle East on Monday to renew Washington's efforts to calm a Palestinian independence uprising ahead of a possible U.S. war on Iraq.

Israeli government sources said there would be "very little movement" on the internationally backed "roadmap" to peace until the rightist Likud party of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had decided who would lead the party in coming elections.

"We are almost done with formulating our response," Palestinian Planning and International Cooperation Minister Nabil Shaath told Reuters. "We might send it earlier so he (Satterfield) can come with an idea of our position."

During his week-long mission, Satterfield will travel to the Jordanian capital Amman for international talks on Palestinian reforms, a key element of the roadmap, U.S. officials said.

Other elements of the peace plan include an end to armed attacks, Israeli army withdrawals from occupied Palestinian cities, mutual efforts toward a final peace settlement, and a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip by 2005.

Israel and the Palestinians have both expressed misgivings about the roadmap -- the former concerned that its security will not be sufficiently safeguarded, the latter irked at the lack of a strict timetable for implementation.

The "Quartet" of Middle East mediators -- the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia -- hopes to adopt a final version of the roadmap once Israel and the Palestinians give their official response.


A source in Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office said Israel was still formulating its response to the roadmap but that it would not be ready for submission to Satterfield