Geneva Initiative to be signed before Swiss minister: Israeli TV

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JERUSALEM (AFP) Nov 13, 2003
The "Geneva Initiative", an unofficial Middle East peace plan, will be signed on December 1 in its namesake city before Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, Israeli state television reported Thursday.
The backers of the initiative began a publicity drive in Israel earlier Thursday to whip up support for their alternative peace plan, placing adverts in major newspapers.

Adverts placed in the Yediot Aharonot, Maariv and Haaretz dailies said it could usher in a "new era based on peace" and informed readers that the full text of the document will be mailed to every Israeli household next week.

Palestinian media outlets will also publish the text of the plan, the television added.

The so-called Geneva Initiative was drawn up by figures on both sides, including former Palestinian information minister Yasser Abed Rabbo and former Israeli justice minister Yossi Beilin, who have claimed support from US Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The Geneva initiative deals with all key points in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the thorny issues of the Jewish settlements and the borders of a future Palestinian state.

Under the agreement, both sides would share sovereignty over Jerusalem and reach a compromise on the issue of Palestinian refugees' right of return.

Implicitly supported by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has branded the project an "illusion" and insists that the internationally-backed "roadmap" is the only hope of reaching peace.

Switzerland bankrolled discussions of the plan, which was drawn up in Jordan in October.

Initial meetings took place in Geneva, hence the name of the peace deal.