US political experts: Russia promotes road map

Russia is a full-fledged member of the international quartet (the UN, the EU, Russia and the United States) who is actively promoting the implementation of the road map plan of the Middle East settlement.

RIA Novosti learnt this from famous US political scientists - John Alterman, director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., and Ambassador Philip C. Wilcox, Jr., President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, a Washington D.C.-based foundation devoted to fostering peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Before 2002, Mr. Alterman was an assistant to the assistant secretary of State for the Middle East. Mr. Wilcox is a career diplomat and a former US consul in Jerusalem.

The political experts believe that the recent developments in the region require that all the members of the Middle East quartet take an active and clearer position.

In my opinion, the quartet has recently been insufficiently active - progress is being made through the bilateral Russian-Israeli or US-Israeli dialogue, and not through the more complicated process involving all the quartet participants, stressed Mr. Wilcox.

He also pointed out Russia's negative attitude to Ariel Sharon's intention of building the security fence.

It is very dangerous because it undermines the negotiations. Only talks can solve such problems as the Palestine-Israel borders, Israeli settlements, Jerusalem, water and security, said Mr. Wilcox.

According to him, the road map in endangered because Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has decided to act unilaterally - this is what he calls the demarcation program. The road map envisages talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, but Mr. Sharon does not want any negotiations because he doesn't see a Palestinian partner to negotiate with, as he puts it.

In his opinion, the incumbent Israeli prime minister would like to continue the construction of the security fence, but the borders he is promoting would not allow creating a viable sovereign Palestinian state.

Mr. Sharon's plan does not coincide with the road map, said Mr. Wilcox noting that Mr. Sharon had asked the Bush administration to accept his plan and make certain promises, for example, recognize the annexation of a number of settlements.

I think the Bush administration would not agree to it, nor will it push Mr. Sharon to begin negotiations with the Palestinians, said the ambassador.

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