- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 19, 2003

NEW YORK — The United States yesterday joined the U.N. Security Council in unanimously endorsing the foundering “road map” peace plan despite objections from Israel, which fears it will be forced into unwelcome concessions.

U.S. officials had lobbied unsuccessfully to prevent a vote on the Russian-sponsored resolution, which will increase pressure on both parties to halt hostilities and begin discussions, saying the vote was “premature.”

In the end, the Americans chose not to veto what amounted to an endorsement of a U.S.-backed peace plan.

Yesterday’s vote came amid new signs of movement in the Middle East, with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon saying he would be willing to meet his Palestinian counterpart, Ahmed Qureia. The Palestinians last week installed a new Cabinet.

“The road map is the way to go,” U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said in New York yesterday. “It lays out a framework; it charts a course. But this does require the implementation of the parties themselves.”

Advising patience, he added, “Let’s wait and see now how the process goes. You’ve got a new government being created in the Palestinian Authority. There are some steps that we can see looming on the horizon.”

The text, which was ultimately co-sponsored by Chile, France, China, Bulgaria, Spain, Britain, Germany and Guinea, calls on the parties “to fulfill their obligations under the road map in cooperation with the Quartet and to achieve the vision of two states living side by side in peace and security.”

The Quartet refers to the four parties that originally drafted the road map: the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union.

The resolution also demands an immediate end to violence, “including all acts of terrorism, provocation, incitement and destruction.”

Washington had sought a stronger condemnation of terrorism, but other council members resisted, saying the resolution should be a simple endorsement of the plan accepted by Israeli and Palestinian leaders last year in Aqaba, Jordan.

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