Kouchner and Blair outline Gaza ceasefire plan

16th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

The pair revealed new details of a draft accord which Egypt has proposed to Israel and Hamas to end the latest fighting.

PARIS - Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Thursday they were still hopeful for a ceasefire in the Gaza conflict, unveiling details of a peace plan.

"There is no doubt at all now that there are not just the elements but the details of a plan," said Blair, representative of the diplomatic Quartet: the European Union, Russia, the United States and the United Nations.

Briefing reporters, the pair revealed new details of a draft accord which Egypt has proposed to Israel and Hamas to end the latest fighting.

Kouchner confirmed it includes a renewable one-year ceasefire, the withdrawal within five to seven days of Israeli forces from Gaza and a reopening of Gaza's frontier crossings, which Israel and Egypt have blocked.

"The basis of that plan is very clear. It is on the one hand actions to stop the smuggling of weapons into Gaza and on the other hand the opening of crossings so that Gaza can be rejoined with the outside world," Blair said.

"Over the last few days, the details have been discussed and worked on, and I think actually there is plainly a credible plan to stop, and people want to stop. So I hope very much, in a short space of time, there is a stop."

Speaking alongside Blair in Paris, Kouchner welcomed the visit by Israeli military negotiator Amos Gilad to Cairo, where he held talks on a French-backed Egyptian initiative to broker a truce between Israel and Hamas.

"It appears to me that this will lead to the ceasefire we hope for, insist upon, as quickly as possible," Kouchner said.

Separately, France's President Nicolas Sarkozy thanked his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak for his efforts in promoting the peace plan.

A statement from Sarkozy's office said the French leader had called Mubarak to thank him for his continued efforts just over a week after the pair met in Cairo to draw up the initiative.

Hamas and Israel are both studying the plan, but neither has formally accepted it and fighting continues in Gaza, where on Thursday a Red Cross hospital was in flames and the Palestinian death toll climbed past 1,100.

Kouchner and Blair held talks with EU external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Norway's Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere, co-chairs of the International Donors' Conference for the Palestinian State.

Under the auspices of the conference, world governments have pledged more than three billion dollars to build the infrastructure of a future Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank, a project endangered by the latest fighting.

The four released a statement calling for an immediate halt to hostilities and renewing their committment to the so-called "Road Map" that international mediators hope will lead to a lasting settlement in the conflict.


0 Comments To This Article