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US Delivers 'Roadmap' for Mideast Peace - 2003-04-30


The U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer, met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Wednesday to officially deliver the long-awaited road map for Middle East Peace. Shortly afterwards, diplomats delivered the plan to the newly-installed Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

The meeting between Ambassador Kurzer and Prime Minister Sharon took place behind closed doors at Mr. Sharon's Jerusalem residence.

International mediators, including United Nations envoy Terje Larson, were in Ramallah, to deliver the roadmap to Prime Minister Abbas.

The latest Middle East peace plan was drawn up by the so-called "Quartet" - the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia. It's described as a roadmap, by which both sides must take steps to eventually reach a two-state solution, a secure Israel living side by side with a viable Palestinian state to be established by 2005.

The Bush administration said the plan would be released once a credible, new Palestinian government was installed. That happened earlier Wednesday, when Prime Minister Abbas and his 24-member cabinet were sworn in.

Among the things the new Palestinian government will now be expected to do is to put an end to violence and crack down on militants.

How hard that will be was underscored early Wednesday when a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up in front of a crowded Tel Aviv cafe. Many saw it as a clear warning to Prime Minister Abbas against trying to curb militant activity.

Israel, too, will be expected to take action, including a withdrawal from Palestinian towns and villages, a freeze on all construction in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the immediate dismantling of illegal settlement outposts.

The settlement issue is an especially difficult one for Mr. Sharon, whose coalition relies on support from right-wing political elements adamantly opposed to such action.

The Palestinians have repeatedly called for immediate implementation of the road map. The Israelis have said they agree in principle, but have reservations and want to talk about changes.

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