Beliefnet
JERUSALEM (AP) - U.S. President George Bush's Mideast peace plan--which has not yet been formally released--includes a Palestinian state and a freeze on the current status of Jerusalem until negotiations conclude, according to a Palestinian Cabinet minister.

But Israel is resisting the plan. Environment Minister Tzachi Hanegbi said Wednesday that if Israel has disagreements with the U.S. administration, Bush must be "fully aware of the unprecedented level of support Israel has in the Senate and Congress, and it will therefore be very hard to pressure Israel."

Palestinian Planning Minister Nabil Shaath told The Associated Press that Bush planned to disclose his program in a speech at the United Nations on Sept. 24, but it was delayed because of the Sept. 11 terror attacks in New York and Washington.

Shaath said Bush talked with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdullah about the plan. Then Saudi Foreign Minister Saud el-Feisal informed Jordan, Syria and Egypt about it.

He said Bush planned to declare support for "the Palestinian right for self-determination, including the right to establish their state on their land." He said the status of Jerusalem would be decided in negotiations, and in the meantime, "the situation there should not be changed."

With ongoing Mideast fighting, the Bush administration has said it would not attempt to force a settlement on the Israelis and Palestinians.

However, the Americans are now seeking calm in the region as they try to gain Arab support for an international coalition against terrorism.

Bush, speaking Tuesday in Washington, said, "The idea of a Palestinian state has always been part of a vision, so long as the right to an Israeli state is respected."

Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia said the declaration is an "important step." He told The Associated Press on Wednesday, "Establishing a Palestinian state is a basic condition to achieve a comprehensive and lasting peace in the area."

Though best known for his hard-line views, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has also spoken of a Palestinian state, though he has also said he would not give the Palestinians more territory than they already partially control - about 40 percent of the West Bank and two-thirds of Gaza.

Referring to more than a year of Palestinian-Israeli violence, Hanegbi charged that Israel now has "no balanced and rational partner" for negotiations.

In peace talks that broke down in January, then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians a state in all of Gaza and about 95 percent of the West Bank with sovereignty over Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem and control of a hotly disputed holy site in the Old City of Jerusalem, plus a corridor connecting the West Bank and Gaza, according to Israeli negotiators.

However, the Palestinians insisted on a total Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, the removal of Jewish settlements and right of millions of refugees and their descendants to reclaim their former homes and land in Israel.

Shaath said the Bush plan would be based on implementing recommendations of an international commission headed by former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, a sequence starting with a case-fire and proceeding through a cooling-off period, confidence-building measures and resumption of peace talks.

Also, Shaath said, a truce plan worked out by CIA director George Tenet would be implemented, he said. In the meantime, another truce, agreed on last week by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres appears to be unraveling.

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