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Geneva Peace Initiative of 2003


An unofficial agreement meant to serve as a template for a possible settlement of the Palestine-Israel dispute. It was negotiated, under the sponsorship of the Swiss government, by a group of prominent Palestinians and Israelis including former cabinet ministers, active politicians, and private citizens following the failure of peace talks at Camp David. The Palestinian delegation was led by Yasser Abed Rabbo, former minister of information in the Palestine Authority; the Israeli delegation was led by Yossi Beilin, a former Israeli justice minister. The initiative was signed in Jordan on 12 October 2003 and launched in an attention-getting public ceremony in Geneva that was attended by former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and others on 1 December 2003. The agreement provides for a sovereign, demilitarized Palestinian state on 97.5 percent of the territory of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and secure borders for Israel based on the 1967 border; for shared jurisdiction over Jerusalem; for Palestinian sovereignty over the Temple Mount and Israeli sovereignty over the Western Wall; for almost all Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory to be evacuated; for the remaining settlements to be incorporated into Israel, for which equivalent amounts of territory would be ceded to Palestine as compensation; for a Palestinian-administered access corridor to be established between the West Bank and Gaza; and for Palestinian refugees to give up their right of return to areas within the borders of Israel, in return for which they would receive financial compensation from Israel for their property and their refugee status. (The initiative provides that some refugees could apply to return to Israel, which could accept them at its "sovereign discretion.") The agreement would replace all previous agreements and United Nations resolutions. The initiative was rejected outright by the Israeli government and has not proved popular with Israelis. It was publicly praised by Yasir Arafat but neither Arafat nor any official or quasi-official body, party, or group endorsed it, and it was condemned by many. The most objectionable aspect, for Palestinians, is the cession of the right of return. There are currently 3.8 to 4.1 million Palestinians with the official status of refugees.

SEE ALSO Abd Rabbo, Yasir; Arafat, Yasir Muhammad; Beilin, Yossi; Gaza Strip; Palestine Authority; West Bank.

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