Swiss salute relaunch of peace process

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (left) and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas declared a truce on Tuesday Keystone

The Swiss foreign minister, who is on the final leg of a week-long tour of the Middle East, has welcomed the ceasefire between Israelis and Palestinians.

This content was published on February 9, 2005 - 16:17

Micheline Calmy-Rey arrived in Egypt on Wednesday, 24 hours after Israeli and Palestinian leaders shook hands on a truce in the Red Sea resort of Sharm-el-Sheikh.

During talks in Cairo, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit brought his Swiss counterpart up to speed on the decisions agreed at Tuesday’s summit.

Calmy-Rey welcomed the ceasefire, saying it had brought respite to civilian populations caught up in a long cycle of violence.

She told reporters that she now wanted to see both sides embark on the first stage of the United States-backed “road map” peace plan.

After an end to the violence, the first of three steps calls on the Palestinian Authority to reform its security forces.

The Palestinians are also required to stop attacks by militants and to dismantle terrorist groups.

Withdrawal from Gaza

According to the text, Israel must pull out of areas occupied since September 2000 and stop building new settlements in the Palestinian territories.

The Israeli government is also bound to call a halt to the destruction of Palestinian homes and the confiscation of land.

Speaking in Cairo, Calmy-Rey said the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip would be a key test of the country’s willingness to achieve a lasting peace.

She reiterated that the pullout, which is due to be completed by the summer, would only be considered a success if the basic needs of the Palestinian population were assured.

The Swiss foreign minister proposed on Wednesday that Switzerland appoint a group of experts to draw up a set of rules ensuring that the local population in Gaza had access to food and goods.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The Swiss foreign minister met her Egyptian counterpart, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, on Wednesday in Cairo.

They discussed Tuesday’s Middle East summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm-el-Sheikh, where Palestinian and Israeli leaders declared a ceasefire.

During her week-long tour of the Middle East, Micheline Calmy-Rey held talks with senior officials in both the occupied territories and Israel.

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