Russian expert calls Bush's new Mideastern plan "Uphill"

A new plan for Middle Eastern settlement which President George W.Bush has recently advanced is uphill, said Yefim Zhigun in a RIA Novosti interview on Tuesday. Zhigun is the director of the Institute of Israeli and Middle Eastern Studies.

It is so primarily because the plan includes "aspects unacceptable to each of the sides," said Zhigun. "Each of the sides will assess this plan proceeding from its traditional positions," believes Zhigun. In his opinion, "Palestinians will speak of pro-Israeli direction of the Bush plan and refer to his words of the right of Israel to combat Palestinian terror. Israelis will negatively take the clauses which intend return to the 1967 frontiers, which much of the Israeli political elite is against". In addition, the right forces in Israel will oppose the ban on the construction of new settlements, believes the expert.

He doubts that Palestinians will be ready to change their leader.

In addition, "the most topical and complicated problems -- Jerusalem, borders and refugees -- are left out," said Yefim Zhigun. The plan does not take into account the interests of other states in the region. Particularly, it offers no solution for the Golan Heights problem, or actually says nothing of the interests of Syria. "The conclusion of peace in the Middle East without Syria is virtually impossible," stressed the expert.

"Practice proves that the setting of a concrete timeframe in the Middle East leads to nothing. It is counterproductive in the Middle East to create a state or conclude a peace timed to a date," Yefim Zhigun is sure.

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