The Spanish Prime Minister has announced a new Middle East peace initiative he will co-sponsor with France and Italy. After meeting with the French President for an annual summit, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said the plan had a number of components:
The first is an immediate ceasefire. The second, the formation of a Palestinian national unity government, that could gain international recognition, and the third, an exchange of prisoners, including a kidnapped Israeli soldier and Palestinian MPs.
“There could be an international observors’ mission in Gaza to consolidate the cease-fire. In the mid-term, it will be necessary to convene a Middle East peace conference involving all the interested parties,” Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said.
Zapatero said it was necessary to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to ensure world peace.
President Chirac said he would be telephoning Italian leader Romano Prodi to seek his agreement on the initiative.
Zapatero said the peace plan would be presented to an EU summit next month.
In the meantime, he hopes to gain British and German backing for the plan.