Israel border plan 'dangerous' says Chirac

15th April 2004, Comments 0 comments

ALGIERS, April 15 (AFP) - Israel's unilateral plan to reshape its borders by withdrawing from the Gaza Strip but keeping West Bank settlements was "dangerous," French President Jacques Chirac said Thursday.

ALGIERS, April 15 (AFP) - Israel's unilateral plan to reshape its borders by withdrawing from the Gaza Strip but keeping West Bank settlements was "dangerous," French President Jacques Chirac said Thursday.

The plan -- which was given public backing Wednesday by US President George W. Bush -- would set "a troubling precedent," Chirac told reporters during a visit to Algiers, where he met Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan involves the dismantlement of all Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and four from the West Bank, as well as ruling out a right of return for Palestinians who lost their homes when the Israeli state was created in 1948.

"For the borders, I consider that international law must be respected. I have reservations about any unilateral or bilateral undermining of international law," Chirac said.

"If circumstances or men start playing with international stability and the rules of international law, it is a troubling precedent," Chirac said. "It's dangerous."

France plays a significant part in the so-called quartet made up of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States which is trying to find a solution to the long-running Middle East conflict.

Senior Palestinian officials have said those efforts were effectively killed off by Bush's acceptance of Sharon's plan, which ignores UN resolutions defining Israel as being within certain borders set after the first Israeli-Arab war in 1967.

Chirac said that the best path to the goal of finding peace was negotiation. "I don't believe that peace can be imposed, especially when it concerns two adversaries who have been seriously fighting for such a long time."

Any lasting settlement could only be brought about through an agreements acceptable to both Israelis and Palestinians, he said.

"I fear that we are not going down that path," Chirac said.

© AFP                                                   

                                                         Subject: French news

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