Geneva peace plan launch postponed

Former Israeli minister, Yossi Beilin (left), and his Palestinian counterpart, Yasser Abed Rabbo, have signed the accord Keystone Archive

The planned launch of an unofficial peace plan for the Middle East has been postponed.

This content was published on November 5, 2003 - 22:21

Wednesday's announcement came as the United Nations secretary-general, Kofi Annan, praised the accord, saying it could work alongside the United-States backed “road map” for peace.

The “Geneva Accord” was due to be launched by Palestinian and Israeli politicians in the Swiss city of Geneva on November 20, with the former United States President, Jimmy Carter, in attendance.

The Swiss foreign ministry said no new date for the formal launch of the peace initiative had been decided. It said the delay was necessary so that copies of the accord could be distributed to Israeli and Palestinian homes.

"The promotors of the accord need to distribute this document as widely as possible so they can have some popular support for their proposals," said Kurt Gasteyger of Geneva University's Graduate Institute of International Studies.

The document, which is more than 50 pages long, must first be translated into Hebrew, Arabic and Russian.

“The parties involved are trying to raise funds for the distribution of the text,” said Alessandro Delprete, spokesman for the foreign ministry.

Switzerland was considering helping to fund the distribution, he added.

The Swiss government has already provided logistical and financial support for the accord.

UN support

Kofi Annan released a statement on Wednesday voicing his support for the Geneva Accord.

“Such initiatives aimed at breaking the deadlock in the Middle East peace process should be welcomed and encouraged,” he said.

He added that the plan was compatible with the aims of the road map, which was drawn up by the US, the UN, Russia and the European Union.

Gasteyger told swissinfo it was important to get such international support for the accord. "It is important to relaunch the debate about the future of Israel and the Palestinian Authority since talk about the road map has become dormant," he added.

The Swiss foreign minister, Micheline Calmy-Rey, presented the peace plan to Annan during a visit to New York at the end of October.

Israeli opposition

The accord was signed by a former Israeli cabinet minister, Yossi Beilin, and his Palestinian counterpart, Yasser Abed Rabbo, in Jordan on October 12, following two years of secret negotiations.

But despite the involvement of politicians from both sides of the conflict, the accord has met with stiff opposition from the Israeli government, which has made it clear it is only interested in the road map.

The Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, called the Geneva Accord “dangerous” and told his cabinet to oppose it.

Meanwhile, Washington has declined to take a position on the document.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The launch of the Geneva Accord has been postponed so that copies of the document can be distributed to Israeli and Palestinian homes.

No new date for the launch has been arranged yet.

The United Nations secretary-general, Kofi Annan, said the accord should be encouraged and could work alongside the United-States-backed "road map" for peace.

The accord was drawn up after two years of secret negotiations by Palestinian and Israeli politicians.

However, neither the Israeli government nor the Palestinian Authority has given their support to the plan.

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