Friday, October 15, 2004

EU's new plan

The EU has a new plan regarding the "viability of a Palestinian state."

The European Union is set to produce a plan to ensure the viability of a Palestinian state, based on 1967 borders, it has emerged.

In a bid to step up the EU's engagement in the region, the plan is set to focus on reconstruction as well as ensuring security is brought to the territories.

It will also set out the need for holding free and fair elections.

Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, who is a former EU envoy to the Middle East, said that it is hoped the plan would be adopted in November at a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels, according to reports.

The move follows deep unease in Europe over the lack of progress in implementing the EU, US, UN and Russian backed ‘Road Map’ for peace and a response to Israel's plans to withdraw from Gaza.

"We want to show the will to start moving and commit ourselves to the situation in the Middle East", Mr Moratinos told a press conference.

Road Map

Diplomats insist that the Road Map is still on the table, but little progress has been made ahead of the US presidential elections.

EU diplomats also insist that the move does not represent the EU stepping away from the Quartet and is compatible with the Road Map.

However, with a vote on prime minister Ariel Sharon's plans to withdraw from Gaza in 2005 set to come before the Knesset in two weeks time, the EU is keen to make sure no power vacuum ensues.

Mr Solana's paper is expected to deal with four major areas; security, facilitating elections, economic development and reforms.

In the security area, the EU is said to be considering a police mission on the ground to help train Palestinian security services in the event of an Israeli withdrawal, in co-ordination with the Egyptian government.


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