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Israel, Palestinians Express Opposing Views on Peace 'Road Map' - 2003-05-01

Israel and the Palestinians are expressing different views on whether the new international peace plan to end their conflict is open to amendment. The Palestinians say the original text should be implemented immediately but Israel says the document is merely a draft subject to change.

An advisor to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat says the Palestinian leadership is ready to adopt the new international peace plan.

The advisor, Ziyad Abu Zayyad says the proposals are far from perfect as far the Palestinians are concerned.

At the same time, he says the Palestinian leadership decided not to raise any objections at this stage for fear this would delay implementation of the plan. "This document, we don't like it," he said. "We have many reservations on it but we accept it as it is."

Mr. Abu Zayyad, who is also a member of the Palestinian parliament, was reacting to the publication of the so-called "roadmap" to peace.

The plan, presented to both sides Wednesday, sets out three phases leading to the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the establishment of a Palestinian state in 2005. It is sponsored by the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia.

A spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Daniel Taub, says the proposals are general in nature, and meant to form the basis for further discussion.

He says what will really determine the speed of the plan's implementation is whether the Palestinians stop their attacks against Israelis. "I think we just want some sort of reassurance that some of the principles that we think are necessary to move forward are enshrined in the road map," he said. "And the first one of those is that we cannot move ahead until the Palestinian leadership does what it promised to do over the past 10 years but has never done, which is immediately, unconditionally stop violence and terrorism and don't regard them as being a tool to be used in negotiation."

The road map does require the Palestinian Authority to crack down on militant groups that carry out the attacks.

The plan was made public Wednesday following the swearing-in of the new Palestinian Prime Minister, Mahmoud Abbas, and his Cabinet.

President Bush has praised Mr. Abbas for his stand against terrorism, and promised to invite the Palestinian Prime Minister to the White House. At the same time, Mr. Bush continues to shun Mr. Arafat, who he says should be replaced.