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Switzerland asked to continue peace efforts

Nabil Shaath thanked Switzerland for its peace efforts Keystone

The Palestinian foreign minister has urged Switzerland to maintain its support for an alternative Middle East peace plan.

This content was published on December 12, 2003 - 16:08

Nabil Shaath said Swiss efforts to bring about a resumption of peace talks were “very useful”, after meeting his counterpart, Micheline Calmy-Rey, in Bern.

He appealed to the Swiss foreign minister to continue her work on the Geneva Accord – launched earlier this month – even if doing so carried a certain amount of risk for Switzerland.

"It’s better to take a million risks for peace than fight a war,” said Shaath.

He thanked Switzerland for its ongoing support of the Palestinian people in their pursuit of an independent state.

“Switzerland has not only offered financial support but also moral support,” he said.

For her part, Calmy-Rey called the Geneva Accord a success because it had led to increased dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.

Shaath said that while the Palestinian Authority did not officially recognise the accord, it did support the initiative.

Blueprint for future talks

However, he added that the accord could be used as a blueprint for future negotiations if peace talks between the two sides resumed.

Official talks between the Israelis and Palestinians on the "road map" peace plan - which was launched in April - have come to a virtual standstill amid continuing violence in the Middle East.

The Swiss government has acted as a logistical and financial facilitator to the accord, but has always maintained that it is not a substitute for the United States-backed “road map” peace plan.

The Geneva Accord outlines a plan for the division of Jerusalem and the creation of a Palestinian state.

It also covers other contentious issues such as the return of Palestinian refugees and the removal of most Jewish settlements in the occupied territories.

Logistical support

Calmy-Rey reiterated that Switzerland did not have any influence over the content of the unofficial peace plan.

The Geneva Accord was initially signed in Jordan on October 12 by former Israeli cabinet minister, Yossi Beilin, and his Palestinian counterpart, Yasser Abed Rabbo, who brokered the deal during two years of secret talks.

It has met with stiff opposition from the Israeli government, which insists that the road map is the only route to peace in the Middle East.

Switzerland gave around SFr31 million ($25 million) this year to support Palestinian refugees in Jordan and the Gaza Strip.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The Geneva Accord outlines a plan for the division of Jerusalem and the creation of a Palestinian state.
It also covers the return of Palestinian refugees and the removal of most Jewish settlements in the occupied territories.
It was first signed in Jordan in October.
Neither the Israeli government nor the Palestinian Authority is officially supporting the initiative.

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