Netanyahu seeks British backing for Palestinian deal

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ISRAEL'S prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, arrived in Britain yesterday with a four-point plan to move forward peace negotiations with the Palestinians. The proposals were hastily drafted on Mr Netanyahu's flight between Bonn and Oslo, according to the Israeli press.

The daily Yediot Aharanot reported Mr Netanyahu's aides joked on the airplane that the main reason for going to Norway was to "return, officially the Oslo accords to the place from which they came".

Since he became prime minister in 1996 Mr Netanyahu has withdrawn Israeli troops from part of the city of Hebron, but has implemented no other part of the Oslo agreements which he opposed as leader of the opposition.

The Israeli proposals given to Mr Blair may be partly a way of avoiding sounding too negative about peace and a response to proposals put for ward by Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, last week.

Mr Cook suggested six steps to revive the peace process. These include a halt to Israeli settlements on the West Bank, a fresh commitment to security by the Palestinians, substantial and immediate troop withdrawals by the Israelis and measures to boost the Palestinian economy.

Mr Netanyahu's proposals deal with more detailed issues such as the opening of a Palestinian airport at Gaza and the opening of an industrial park. He also says he would like to meet Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader.

Among those who will not be meeting Mr Netanyahu in the near future is King Hassan of Morocco, who had friendly relations with the previous Israeli government.

He is quoted as saying: "I'm not prepared to meet with this man, with Netanyahu. I watched him on CNN - his body language projects aggression, something violent."

In Israel yesterday 1,500 army and police officers published a letter calling for Mr Netanyahu to chose between peace and settlements.