|Spanish FM: Nothing in peace plan 'Israel can reject'|
|By Akiva Eldar and Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondents, and The Associated Press|
Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs Miguel Angel Moratinos sought Friday to reassure Israel over a new Mideast peace initiative proposed the day before by Spain, France and Italy, saying that there was nothing in the plan "that Israel can reject." Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Thursday that Israel rejected the new peace initiative out of hand. She told Moratinos that it was unacceptable for an initiative concerning Israel to be launched without coordination with Jerusalem. Livni also told Moratinos that if the sponsors of the initiative were so inclined, they should seek to hold dialogue with Israel on any new plan. But Moratinos told Haaretz on Friday he had spoken to his Israeli counterpart about the initiative, in what he described was a "good conversation," and had "tried to convince her that it's not an anti-Israeli plan." He said that, "at the end of the conversation it was fine," and promised to provide Livni with "all the details." Introducing the plan Thursday during a meeting with French President Jacques Chirac, Spanish Prime Minister Spanish Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said it had five components, including an immediate cease-fire that would be monitored by an international presence in Gaza. Moratinos said that he had been anticipating a poor reception, but remained confident that the plan would be taken seriously. "We assume our responsibilities," he said. "I knew that in the beginning there will be a negative reaction but I have full confidence that the initiative will go through." The Spanish foreign minister acknowledged that there was still work to be done on the proposal, but said that the three countries had been driven by a desire to change the stalemate in the region. "It is not a final initiative, we will have to adapt. But we have a sense of urgency that something has to be done, and this stagnation and frustration which are affecting the lives of Israelis and Palestinians are [getting] worse." He also said that his own country has an interest in events in the Middle East, not least because they have a direct impact on Spain and its citizens. "We have police and civil guard [in Lebanon], two Spanish citizens were kidnapped in Gaza, because there is a big disaster," he said. "It's affecting my economy and security in terms of the whole situation. I have interests that are affecting my country, and so, what do I have to do, just wait and see?"According to Moratinos, European Union and American officials at the highest levels have been made aware of the initiative."We discussed with [EU foreign policy chief Javier] Solana and I discussed it this morning with the Americans, but the Americans have the Quartet," Moratinos said, referring to the foursome of the U.S., United Nations, Russia and the EU, who play a joint role in efforts to end the conflict." But we already discussed the general idea with [U.S. Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice a long time ago. And so we want the Americans to lead the initiative, but we have to forward some ideas. If they have better ideas, I am ready to accept them."
Friday, November 17, 2006
Posted by Molly at 9:03 AM