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April 30, 2003

"Road map" for Middle East peace presented officially to Israel, Palestinians

This article notes that the delivery of the Road plan comes at about the same time as the latest suicide boming. The Road plan to move on with little or no regard to the terror response to a planned two-state arrangement.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer presented a copy of the "road map" to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon this afternoon while representatives of the other Quartet members - Russia, European Union and the United Nations - were to simultaneously present a copy to newly appointed Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen in Ramallah. American officials said this morning's suicide bombing attack in Tel Aviv, which killed 3 Israelis and injured 55, would not derail the peace process.

Political analysts said the presentations were "symbolic" as the sides had already received copies of the "road map." Sharon's bureau chief attorney Dov Weisglass recently presented the Bush administration with a list of Israel's 15 "reservations" about the plan, but the Americans refused to consider changes to the original text at this stage of the process.

Publication of the long-awaited "road map" was made possible after Abu Mazen and his cabinet were sworn into office today. UN Middle East envoy Terje Larsen attended the swearing in ceremony. The Quartet said the establishment of a new "reformist" Palestinian government was the last remaining obstacle to publishing the "road map."

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is due to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories in mid-May and push for implementation of the "road map," which details the steps to creating an independent Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel by 2005. Powell postponed a visit scheduled for later this week in order to give Abu Mazen time to establish his leadership. "He has some work to do, and I don't want to burden him on day one," Powell told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

State Department spokeswoman Nancy Beck said Wednesday morning's terror attack in Tel Aviv wouldn't derail the peace effort, the Associated Press reported.

"This despicable attack was undertaken by those opposed to the restoration of dialogue and the peaceful pursuit of a comprehensive peace in the region," Beck said. "Attacks such as these will not deter us and the proponents of peace throughout the region from continuing down the path on which we have embarked." [more]