Geneva Initiative Unveils 'Recipe' for Mideast Peace

Palestinian-Israeli manual offers solutions to top issues likely to be raised in talks, but omits refugee problem.

The Geneva Initiative, a private Israeli and Palestinian group which six years ago released an unofficial proposal for peace between the two sides, presented on Tuesday a the outline of a possible future peace plan.

The plan was shown to journalists in Tel Aviv and is the second stage of the initiative which was originally unveiled in late 2003 by Israeli and Palestinian officials, some of whom had taken part in previous negotiations.

Describing it as a "recipe" for resolving the conflict, Israeli team leader Gadi Baltiansky told reporters that the more than 400- page manual offers detailed solutions to several issues which are expected to be part of any final Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

The issues include water rights, security arrangements, the fate of Israeli settlements and settlers in the West Bank, a solution to Jerusalem, and the role of a multi-national force.

A detailed plan for solving the problem of Palestinian refugees and their descendents, one of the most controversial issues in Israeli-Palestinian talks, has not yet been completed.

The initiative envisages an independent Palestinian state, with no army but with a strong security force. The Gaza Strip and the West Bank will be connected by a land corridor, which will be under Israeli sovereignty but with full Palestinian control.

An international force will be placed in Palestine to aid the two sides in implementing the agreement, and another international force will be stationed on the flashpoint Temple Mount- Haram al-Sharif compound in the heart of Jerusalem's Old City.

Sovereignty in the Old City of Jerusalem will be divided between Palestine and Israel and the two sides will redistribute their shared water.

The plan calls for the evacuation of one third of the 300,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank, but also says that areas near Jerusalem containing large settlement blocks should be annexed to Israel, while Palestinians will receive territory adjacent to the Gaza Strip and along the south-west Israel-West Bank border.

"If and when peace talks are resumed, the negotiators will find our material a reliable guide on how to do things," former Israeli negotiator Yossi Beilin said.