The next round of talks on an unofficial Middle East peace plan known as the Geneva Initiative will take place in the eastern French city of Lyon in March or April, the city’s mayor said Friday.
“Lyon will play host to the second round of negotiations on the Geneva Initiative in an effort to push the Middle East peace process forward,” Socialist mayor Gerard Collomb told reporters.
Robert Rouach # an advisor to former Israeli justice minister Yossi Beilin, one of the promoters of the plan # hailed the scheduled talks as “a major first, explaining: “For 50 years, Israel refused that negotiations be held in France, as France was considered to be pro-Palestinian.”
Collomb was due to travel to Israel in the next two weeks to plan the talks among former Israeli and Palestinian elected officials.
The Geneva Initiative, backed by Beilin and former Palestinian information minister Yasser Abed Rabbo, envisions a Palestinian state encompassing virtually all of the West Bank and shared sovereignty over Jerusalem.
The plan, launched last month in Switzerland, seeks to solve the thorniest problems in the Middle East conflict, including the status of Jerusalem and the right of return of Palestinian refugees.
The proposal has been rejected by the government of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The Palestinian parliament has refused to adopt a proposal condemning the plan but has voted against its official endorsement.