Jerusalem, Feb. 20 – Former IDF chief and Kadima Party leader Shaul Mofaz presented his own three-stage peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians, calling Wednesday for a regional peace conference to help bring both parties back to the negotiating table.
“I believe that this year will be a very critical one,” said Mofaz told a foreign press briefing organized by The Israel Project. “The first goal of the state of Israel is to push forward the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.”
“After the visit of President Obama we should call for a regional (peace) conference under the umbrella of the Quartet and the U.S. in order to have a restart of the negotiations between the two sides,” Mofaz said. “The conference should include Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and other Arab countries willing to participate.”
Mofaz proposes the conference set the goals for an interim agreement that will set up a Palestinian state with provisional borders as negotiations continue for a permanent peace treaty. The most sensitive issues of Jerusalem and refugees will be left to the final third stage of a negotiated permanent settlement.
President Barak Obama is expected to visit Israel next month, and Mofaz said he met with the American leader last June in Washington, where Obama appeared to agree with his concept that negotiations should start on borders and security arrangements – two areas where Mofaz says Israel and the Palestinians are already close to agreement.
The plan is “a pragmatic way to implementing the two-state solution, or the vision of two states,” the Iranian-born Mofaz said.
His centrist Kadima Party lost considerable footing during the January elections, falling from being the largest block in the 120-seat Knesset with 29 seats under former party leader Tzipi Livni to being the smallest faction with only 2 seats.
Livni, who formed her own Movement Party that captured six seats, became the first politician to join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is forming a coalition government. She is reportedly being tasked to head future peace talks. Having led the peace negotiations four years ago, Livni already has a positive relationship with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and senior officials of the Palestinian Authority.