Credibility at Risk in Peace Process, Diplomat Warns

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Byline: Nicholas Kralev, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Egypt's envoy to the United States said yesterday that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process begun in Annapolis last month is poorly thought through and will not succeed without a timetable and specific steps, which the Bush administration has yet to outline.

Ambassador Nabil Fahmy, who has been in Washington for eight years, also said that, whatever negotiations may be held in private, their progress or difficulties must be made public in the process in order to maintain its credibility.

"You can make or break this process on what's done publicly," Mr. Fahmy told a small group of reporters over lunch at his residence, adding that there is "a lot of skepticism" in the Arab world about resolving the decades-old conflict.

He criticized the administration for being too vague about how the negotiations are supposed to unfold, so they can achieve the Annapolis goal of a peace agreement and establishment of a Palestinian state in a year.

"The lack of a timetable discredits the process. ... You also need a specific mechanism and guidelines," he said "Annapolis was your party. We were your guests. You'll be held responsible whether it was credible enough."

Russia has offered to host another international meeting in support of the peace process in the spring. Mr. Fahmy said that by then, all six Israeli-Palestinian committees meant to negotiate the aspects of a final settlement must be organized.

He also said the U.S. should pressure Israel to "remove outposts" and "withdraw forces" from the Palestinian territories in advance of the Moscow meeting.

A resolution of the internal Palestinian conflict between the ruling Fatah party and the militant group Hamas must be resolved as well, the ambassador said. …