Merkel: No alternative to 2-state solution
Obama’s Master Peace Plan
Blair: New Peace Plan Being Drafted
'Quartet to unveil new peace strategy'
By JPOST.COM STAFF AND AP
May 6, 2009
The US-led Quartet of Middle East mediators is working on a new strategy for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and is expected to present it in five to six weeks, Quartet envoy Tony Blair has said. The plan is being devised by the Obama administration, with input from others, Blair told Palestinian reporters.
"We're about to get a new framework," Blair said Tuesday evening, adding that he did not know the details. "The reason I say people should be more hopeful, is that this is a framework that is being worked on at the highest level in the American administration, (and) in the rest of the international community."
US President Barack Obama is holding separate meetings at the White House this month with the Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian leaders to hear their views. Once those meetings are over, the Quartet is to convene in Washington to discuss and present the new strategy, Blair said. "I think that within the next five to six weeks, you will have a very clear picture of what the plan is."
Blair said the international community was working on a new approach, adding, "The key thing for the next few weeks is to get an agreed strategy and then the key thing for the next few months is to implement it in a way that is credible for people."
The London-based pan-Arab daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported Wednesday that Arab leaders were formulating a new peace offer, more detailed than the original Arab initiative, which will include a proposal for resolving the two thorniest final-status issues in peace talks, Jerusalem and the refugee problem. According to the report, which relied on Palestinian sources, the new initiative was being led by Jordan's King Abdullah II at Obama's behest.
The offer will reportedly call for the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and the Old City designated as an "international zone." The question of borders will be resolved with land swaps.
Some of the descendants of Palestinian refugees from Israel's War of Independence in 1948 will reportedly be allowed a right of return to the Palestinian state, while others will be naturalized in their countries of residence throughout the Arab world.
According to the report, the idea of a revised Arab peace plan emerged during Abdullah's meeting with Obama in Washington last month. The US president had reportedly asked his guest to formulate a new offer that would elucidate some of the issues that remain vague in the original initiative. Immediately upon returning to Amman, Abdullah took off for Riyadh in order to begin hammering out the new plan with his Saudi counterpart.
On Sunday, the report said, Abdullah met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and filled him in on the details. On Monday he did the same with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem.
Palestinian sources quoted in the report said that Obama had requested that the plan outline a "timetable for normalization and the establishment of diplomatic ties between Israel and the Arab world, which will encourage Israel to employ the necessary means in order to create a demilitarized Palestinian state."
(will the "timetable be for SEVEN YEARS? )
The revised initiative, the sources said, "will allow the Israeli flag to billow in all the capitals of the Arab world, while the Palestinian flag will be raised in the Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem, which will be the capital of the Palestinian state."
The UN banner will fly over the holy sites of the Old City of Jerusalem, the sources were quoted as saying.
The Palestinian sources said that the new initiative conceded that an influx of refugees and their descendants into Israel was broadly perceived as an existential threat to the Jewish state. The refugees "cannot return to the occupied Palestinian territories of 1948," they said, "for, according to the Americans' point of view, this would pose a danger to Israel's future."
NATO-Russia tensions mount as exercises kick off
Russia to Expel 2 NATO Officials
Georgia Ends Coup, Russia Cries Foul
May 6, 2009
(Newser) – The Georgian government claims to have crushed an army mutiny at a base near the capital Tbilisi, but it backed away from earlier claims that Russia was backing a coup aimed at ousting or assassinating President Mikheil Saakashvili. The plot organizer has been arrested and several others remain at large. But after a day of hurling accusations, writes the Times of London, Georgia is getting hit with criticism from all sides.
Saakashvili's political opponents accused him of staging a "theatrical show" to gain support after a series of street protests demanding his resignation. The Kremlin has denied any role in the mutiny, and the country's deputy foreign minister blasted Georgia for imagining "totally insane things." NATO, which is conducting exercises in Georgia today, was also nonplussed, and urged Georgia and Russia to tone down the rhetoric as more than 1,000 troops arrived in the country.