Blair Hosts Conference on Palestinian Reforms

(IFM) Officials from 23 countries and six international organizations, including U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, were attending a one-day conference hosted by British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London recently to discuss Palestinian reforms, Israel Radio, Kol Yisrael, reported. Blair outlined "five steps" which he said that he and U.S. President George W. Bush believed would lead to a just solution of the conflict: Two of those – Palestinian elections and the outlining of an overall vision for a two-state solution to the conflict – have already been completed, Blair said. The third was taking place at the London conference, and was meant to help the PA in areas of governance, economic development and security also. The fourth step, Blair pointed out, was Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s disengagement plan, and the fifth step, a return to the road map.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told the conference that any security measure adopted by the Palestinians would have to be part of a broader political path that would "put an end to the occupation."

In a statement released at the conference, the Quartet of countries sponsoring the road map peace plan condemned Friday’s suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, which killed five people, and called for "immediate action by the Palestinian Authority to apprehend and bring to justice the perpetrators." Israel and the Palestinian Authority should hold direct dialogue and negotiation to push forward the peace process, the quartet added.

Israel: London Conference Should Have Focused
More on Fight Against Terror Groups

(IFM) While Israel reaffirmed its commitment to the road map peace plan, it stressed Tuesday’s meeting in London on Palestinian reforms should have more strongly urge for a crackdown on terror organizations, HA’ARETZ reported. Leaders attending the conference said they expected "action by Israel" regarding its commitments to the road map. Senior British sources said they did not accept Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s position that Palestinians had to fulfill a series of obligations before the implementation of the road map could begin.

But Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that the conference had skirted the real issue, that of the Palestinian Authority’s vow to fight terrorism. "Words in London must correspond to some sort of reality here,” Olmert said. "The fact is that terrorism is continuing, and we have yet to see any genuine effort by the Palestinian leadership, and this is certainly worrisome and cannot be ignored."

Meanwhile, PA Chairman Mahoud Abbas, who is making his first visit to the European Union headquarters in Brussels since taking office in January, said he was optimistic Palestinians and Israelis could take advantage of a "new era of peace and hope" to reach a final peace deal that will see the realization of Palestinian statehood.