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EU Delegation Tries to Rejuvenate Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process - 2001-11-17

A high level European Union delegation is traveling in the Middle East, hoping to rejuvenate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Delegation officials had some optimistic comments.

"I hope for positive news for the peace process in the coming weeks," said the European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mr. Solana made his comments following meetings in Cairo with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Saturday.

He is part of the highest-level European Union mission to the Middle East since hostilities broke out between Palestinians and Israelis 14 months ago.

Mr. Solana said the peace process does not need a new initiative. All it needs is political will. He said, "all of the plans are there, the Tenet agreement and the Mitchell report." Now, he said, "we have to push both parties to start implementing these plans."

The report from the commission headed by former U.S. Senator George Mitchell calls for, among other things, a halt to violence for at least six weeks, followed by negotiations on the Palestinian territories.

The Tenet memorandum, named after U.S. CIA chief George Tenet, sets out an agreement for a ceasefire.

Heading the EU delegation is Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt who agreed that both parties must be pressured to sit around the same table to start implementing the recommendations of the Mitchell report and Tenent memorandum.

The delegation has since left Egypt for the Palestinian territories and a meeting with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, to be followed by visits to Israel, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.