U.S. security official: No new concrete Mideast peace plan
Lebanon prime minister says Obama is the 'ideal person' to head new Middle East peace efforts.
United States National Security Advisor James Jones said Friday the administration was discussing how to jump-start the lagging Middle East peace process, but did not have a new plan to offer.
Speaking to reporters accompanying U.S. President Barack Obama back to Washington from Prague, Gen. James Jones said, there's been no decision made regarding a concrete Middle East peace plan.
Earlier this week there had been reports saying that the administration was poised to offer a new U.S. peace proposal to Israel and the Palestinian Authority that would build on understandings reached at Camp David, Maryland, in 2000.
Jones said the Mideast strategy came up during a meeting Obama recently had with a half-dozen former national security advisers, and that the discussions are ongoing don't intend to surprise anybody.
Earlier Friday, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri called for a "world leadership" to force all the parties to the Middle East conflict to negotiate, describing U.S. President Barack Obama as the "ideal person" to head the effort.
Israel does not have an "authentic interest" in reaching a "wide- ranging and fair" peace arrangement with the Arab world, Hariri claimed at an economic forum on the second day of his official visit to Spain.
The Obama administration has a sincere commitment to promote peace, Hariri said, also stressing the importance of the Spanish European Union presidency.
He urged the international community to pressure Israel with measures such as "cutting off some aid" to the country.
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on Thursday joined Hariri in urging Israel to help create the conditions for peace.
Hariri's statement came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told close aides Wednesday that Israel would not accept a Middle East peace agreement that is forced on it by external forces.
Netanyahu said an external arrangement "won't work and it won't be acceptable if a settlement is forced on us," stressing the need to ensure proper security arrangements as part of any future peace deal.
For that end, the PM reportedly said, Israel would have to retain a military presence along its eastern border with Jordan, adding that any agreement that doesn't allow for those measure will not be accepted.
Netanyahu's comments came as the Washington Post quoted senior U.S. officials as saying earlier Wednesday that President Barack Obama was weighing the possibility of submitting a new American Middle East peace plan by this fall.
Internal Lebanon pressure
Lebanon politicians expressed concern Friday that tensions between rival Palestinian groups in Lebanon could destabilize the country, the day after clashes killed one person in a Palestinian military camp.
A gun battle erupted on Thursday between rival members of the Damascus-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian- General Command (PFLP-GC). The clash, which took place in a Palestinian camp in the east of the country, killed one member and wounded several others, a Palestinian source said.
Some 376,000 Palestinian refugees live in 12 camps scattered across Lebanon.
In the aftermath of the battle, Lebanese politicians called on the government to revive talks on armed Palestinian groups operating outside the camps.
"The Lebanese find themselves every time before military battles imposed on them by the armed Palestinian groups in eastern Lebanon," said Sami Gemayel, a member of parliament for the Christian Phalange Party.
"[They] launch bombs and terrorize the Lebanese and Palestinians, killing them over power-sharing disputes."
He urged the Lebanese state "to take an immediate and decisive decision that gives the Lebanese Army the green light for immediate intervention in order to control the situation and collect the weapons of these outlaw groups."
Gemayel also warned that postponing a solution to the issue of Palestinian armed groups in Lebanon could lead to another "Nahr al- Bared," a reference to battles which broke out in a refugee camp near Tripoli in 2007.
Fatah al-Islam, an obscure al-Qaeda-inspired group, fought deadly battles against the Lebanese Army which killed 400 people and displaced more than 40,000 refugees.
Security inside the Palestinian camps is in the hands of Palestinian groups, but the entrances are controlled by the Lebanese army.
The PFLP-GC, which is backed by Syria and has close links with the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, maintains bases outside the refugee camps.
One is based in eastern Lebanon, which is close to the Syrian border, where the clashes took place Thursday, and the other in Naameh, 15 kilometres south of Beirut.