Arabs, Israel May Pitch Ideas for Palestine State

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Byline: Abraham Rabinovich

JERUSALEM - The Israeli and Palestinian leaderships are reportedly planning to formulate proposals in the next few days for the creation of a Palestine, but for different places.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is considering the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state when he addresses the U.N. General Assembly in New York, according to the London Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat. Such a state would include the Gaza Strip and the West Bank within its pre-1967 borders.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres has formulated his own proposal for a Palestinian state - in the Gaza Strip alone - that would in time extend to the West Bank as well, which Israel would propose to the United States as a first step in a renewed peace process.

Mr. Peres is expected to meet tomorrow with right-wing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who has expressed interest in hammering out a joint political plan with his left-wing foreign minister that could be presented to President Bush when Mr. Sharon meets with him later this month.

Neither approach is considered realistic but they reflect a desire to find a political alternative.

According to the Al-Hayat report, Mr. Arafat hopes that the declaration of a Palestinian state would bring international involvement.

However, the United States is almost certain not to recognize such a unilateral declaration. Neither are many other Western countries who want instead a settlement between the Palestinians and Israel. Another difficulty is that the Israeli army now occupies more than half the territory of the proposed state.

Last week, the speaker of the Palestinian parliament, Ahmed Qurei, proposed a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state to be followed by negotiations over the relations of the state with Israel. …