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Unofficial peace plan for Middle East drawn up

26th November 2003

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An alternative peace plan drawn up by leading Palestinian and Israeli politicians and intellectuals is due to be unveiled in Switzerland on Monday.

The following is a summary of the key points of the so-called Geneva Initiative.

The pact would constitute a final agreement, which would commit both sides to renounce any new claims and would replace all previous United Nations resolutions.

This includes: - Mutual recognition.

It foresees the creation of a Palestinian state next to Israel, conforming to the boundaries of the Palestinian territories before the start of the Israeli occupation in 1967, with certain modifications.

Israel's withdrawal from Palestinian areas would take place in phases but all areas must be evacuated within 30 months of the agreement coming into force.

- Right of return.

There is no mention of the term "right of return" for Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their homes in 1948.

A small number of people will be allowed to settle in Israel but that would not be regarded as a realisation of the right of return.

Other members of the Palestinian diaspora would have the right to reside in the new Palestinian state or in a third country, with the exception of Israel.

Refugees would be entitled to compensation for their loss of property while a "refugeehood fund" would be established to which Israel would contribute.

- Jerusalem.

Both parties would "have their mutually recognised capitals in the areas of Jerusalem under their respective sovereignty".

Palestinians would have control over the Old City in Jerusalem but with the exception of the Jewish quarter and the Western Wall.

The Al-Aqsa mosque compound would also be under Palestinian sovereignty but with unhindered access, supervised by an international force, for all religions.

Jews would not be allowed to pray at the site, which is also known as the Temple Mount, while archaeological excavations would be forbidden there.

Special arrangements would also be established to guarantee access to agreed sites of religious significance such as the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem.

- Settlements.

Israel security forces would have the right to guard the Gush Etzion bloc of settlements in the southern West Bank and settlements on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The West Bank settlements of Ariel, Efrat and Har Homa would form part of a Palestinian state.

Israel would transfer control of areas of the Negev desert bordering the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians in exchange for areas of the West Bank, which would remain under Israeli control.

The two states would also establish a land corridor linking the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which would be under Israeli sovereignty but administered by the Palestinians.

- Terrorism and security.

Both sides would recognise and respect each other's right "to live in peace within secure and recognised boundaries free from the threat or acts of war, terrorism and violence".

The Palestinian state would be demilitarised and border points would be supervised by an international force.

Israel would be allowed to keep a small military presence in the Jordan valley under the authority of a multilateral force for 36 months after the withdrawal from the rest of the Palestinian areas.

- Prisoners.

Anyone imprisoned before May 1994 as a result of offences committed during the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be immediately released along with all women, minors and inmates in ill-health.

Those jailed after 1994 would be freed no later than 18 months after the agreement comes into effect except in "exceptional cases".

Palestinian cabinet minister Qaddura Fares has said that the blueprint would allow the Palestinians to create a state on 97,5% of the land, which has been occupied by Israel since 1967.

The total land mass of this new Palestinian state would be 6 200 km2. – Sapa-AFP.
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