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Tenet, Mitchell, Saudi: 3 peace plans

©Associated Press
April 4, 2002

WASHINGTON -- When President Bush talks about achieving peace in the Middle East, he often sums up his administration's strategy in two words: Tenet and Mitchell.

Both refer to proposals to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. One consists of the recommendations of an international commission headed by former Sen. George Mitchell in May 2001; the other, a cease-fire plan proposed by CIA director George Tenet in June 2001.

They have been joined by a third proposal: a Saudi peace initiative made in February and endorsed by Arab leaders last week.

Here, in question-and-answer form, is a look at the plans:

* * *

Are the three plans compatible with each other?

Yes. They apply to different stages of the peace process. The Tenet plan seeks an immediate end to violence and a cooling off period. That would be followed by the Mitchell plan, which calls for Israel to freeze settlement activity and for Palestinians to prevent terrorism. The Saudi plan offers a long-term resolution: Its goal is ending the Arab-Israeli conflict.

* * *

How would the Tenet plan work?

Details have not been released, but Israeli and Palestinian officials say it calls for an immediate end to hostilities. Palestinians would arrest militants and stop anti-Israeli incitement in Palestinian media. Israel would pull its troops back from Palestinian areas and ease travel restrictions.

* * *

What steps would Palestinians have to take under the Mitchell plan to stop terrorism?

The plan calls on the Palestinian Authority to punish terrorists, to stop gunmen using its areas to fire on Israelis and to renew security cooperation with Israel. Israel would freeze Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel's military would have to consider withdrawing to positions held before the violence began in September 2000.

What have been the Israeli and Palestinian reactions to the Tenet and Mitchell plans?

Both sides have expressed a general willingness to use the plans as the basis for negotiations.

* * *

Then why have U.S. attempts to revive the peace process failed?

Any tentative steps toward peace have been undermined by the ever-intensifying cycle of Palestinian suicide bombings and Israeli military retaliation. Israel and the Bush administration say Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat isn't doing enough to stop terrorist attacks. Arafat's supporters say he can't fight terrorism while he is under siege and his security forces are being attacked by Israel.

* * *

What makes the Saudi plan different from other peace proposals?

The plan marks the first time the entire Arab world is offering to recognize Israel. But it would entail major concessions by the Israelis: ceding West Bank settlements and east Jerusalem and allowing Palestinian refugees to return to family homes, including those in Israel, or receive compensation.

* * *

Would the Saudi plan call for a Palestinian state?

Yes. This might not be the biggest area of dispute. At a summit two years ago, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Palestinians a state. His successor, Ariel Sharon, takes a tougher approach with negotiations but has acknowledged that a Palestinian state is likely to emerge over time. What might be more difficult to resolve are questions about the future of Jerusalem and whether Palestinian refugees have the right to return to Israel. Those issues contributed to the collapse of the 2000 peace talks.

* * *

How have the two sides responded to the Saudi proposal?

The Palestinian Authority has enthusiastically embraced it. Israel has expressed reservations but has welcomed it as a possible starting point for talks.

* * *

How has the United States responded?

The Bush administration has welcomed the plan. Secretary of State Colin Powell has called it a "bold vision."

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