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Mubarak to Unveil Mideast Peace Plan - 2002-06-04


Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is bringing U.S. officials a Middle East peace plan that includes a timetable for Palestinian statehood.

Senior Egyptian officials say the most significant part of Mr. Mubarak's plan is its call for the declaration of a Palestinian state by early 2003. They say the declaration would occur before negotiations about boundaries, the issue of refugees, the division of Jerusalem, and the dismantling of Israeli settlements.

But the advisers say some steps have to be taken before the statehood declaration, including the restructuring of Palestinian security services and presidential and parliamentary elections late this year.

Under the plan, the Palestinian state would be formally admitted to the United Nations, followed by negotiations with Israel leading to a total Israeli withdrawal from lands it occupied in 1967. The withdrawal would be phased over three or four years and guaranteed by the United States, Russia, the United Nations, and the European Union.

Mr. Mubarak has said his plan is much more detailed than a Saudi land-for-peace proposal adopted at a March Arab summit in Beirut. That plan was rejected by Israel because it insisted on the return of Palestinian refugees.

Mr. Mubarak's plan, which has not been made public, is said to call for a just settlement of the refugee problem, without specifically mentioning the right of return.

In a recent interview, Mr. Mubarak said that when he meets with President Bush he will ask him to apply pressure on the Israelis and Palestinians to return to negotiations.

An adviser to Mr. Mubarak, Osama el Baz, says it should be clear by now that "using military might" is not the way to end the fighting between Israelis and Palestinians. Mr. el Baz says power cannot bring an end to the conflict. Power, he says, only creates temporary solutions. The real solution will have to come from the will of the international community.

Hassan Nafae is the chairman of the political science department at Cairo University. He says 'President Mubarak will be traveling to Washington as the most influential leader throughout the Arab world.' "Egypt is the most important regional player, at least as far as the Arab world is concerned," he said. "If Egypt has some reservations on any peace plan, this plan will never get its way forward. So, if you want to do anything concerning peace in the region you have to go through Egypt and work with Egypt."

Mr. Mubarak is expected to have at least two days of talks with President Bush. He is also scheduled to meet with Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Secretary of State Colin Powell.

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