[Israel Resource News Agency has asked the US consul in Jerusalem if Burns would be willing to receive a delegation from Israelis who are concerned about peace and not members of the Israeli left. We are awaiting a response.]

On Sunday, May 4, 2003, the Israeli – Palestinian Peace Coalition was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to meet with William Burns, Deputy US Secretary of State. The meeting was attended by Israeli and Palestinian delegation:

Israeli Delegation:
Colette Avital, Yossi Sarid, Ran Cohen, Yossi Beilin, Janet Aviad, Mossi Raz, Moni Mordechi
Palestinian Delegation:
Yasser Abed Rabbo, Ghassan Al-Khatib, Nabil Kasis, Samih Al-Abed, Nazmi Al-J’ubi, Saman Khoury, Fadel Taboun.

Mr. Burns opened the meeting emphasizing Bush’s strong commitment to the Road Map, to working with Quartet and clear determination to get going. He also said that Bush realizes the strategic opportunity is right now because of three factors:

  • Abu Mazen’s new government, the reaction to this will not last forever
  • The overthrow of Saddam and the Arab states reactions
  • This period prior to the October US Primaries

The Coalition representatives informed Burns about the activities of the Peace Coalition, the joint adverts in the newspaper supporting the RM, the meeting on May 13, 2003, and described the public mood as realizing there is political chance, but only if it a process that is not bilateral, but with intense American pressure and support.

Ghassan Khatib, expressed his doubts over the practical measures of the agreement and that the Road Map will never work if the steps taken are not done by both sides at the same time. If the steps demanded by the Road Map are done separately then each side will be waiting to see if the other side complies and then nothing will be achieved.

Colette also expressed reservations about the US Conservatives, Christians and AIPAC that are lobbying to torpedo the Road Map and suggested the Americans should help us to express our views to the American Public.

She posed the question if there really is determination on the part of Bush?

Burns assured the forum that the President’s determination will run the whole process, and he believes the common sense of all peoples will override the Conservatives and Christians viewpoints once they see the RM potential.

The Coalition reps also stated that recent surveys showed that 65-70% of the Israeli public supports the RM, and Janet also pointed out to Burns that all the outposts are one and the same phenomena and not to accept that any are legal, or for security reasons.

Burns concluded that there is a need for more pressure and leadership from the USA as a precondition to its success. He thanked the Coalition for its work and encouraged us to continue, as new peace attempts reflects the peoples will and will result in fundamental changes.

Join us on May 13, 2003 at 12:00 noon for meeting at World Bank Offices, A-Ram
Yariv Oppenheimer, Peace Now Spokesman