Palestinian extremists protest at Geneva Accords peace plan

Thousands of Palestinian militants staged protests yesterday against the ground-breaking Geneva Accords initiative developed by Palestinian and Israeli moderates.

The proposals, which emerged from two years of secret talks between moderate Palestinian and Israeli public figures, were denounced by Palestinian militants as well as Israel's right-wing Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon.

Three million copies of the peace plan are to be presented to the former US presidents, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and to Nelson Mandela at a ceremony in Geneva in 10 days. The proposals will then be distributed among Palestinian and Israeli families in Israel and the occupied territories.

Brokered between leading Palestinian and Israeli opposition figures, the Geneva Accords are intended to break the stalemate on peace since Mr Sharon came to power.

The initiative proposes to end the three-year intifada by removing Jewish settlements in Israeli-occupied Gaza and the West Bank to make way for a Palestinian state. The accord grew out of dismay with lack of progress on the US road-map for peace, and is intended to show negotiations are possible between the two sides.

Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, is sponsoring the initiative after playing a key role in its development. Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, and Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, have also given cautious praise to the peace plan.

But President George Bush seemed to go out of his way to avoid mentioning the Accords in his foreign policy speech in London on Wednesday.

Mr Sharon's office has been particularly scornful of the peace plan. One of his central policies while in power has been to wreck the Oslo peace process, another objective he shares with Palestinian militants.

His office refused to accept a copy of the draft agreement and the government has tried to prevent Israeli radio from broadcasting advertisements endorsing the proposals. Mr Sharon has accused the Geneva architects of undermining democracy.

Yasser Arafat has welcomed the initiative, in principle, as a possible way of out the Middle East deadlock.

Yesterday it was the turn of Palestinian extremists to denounce the process. "Foreign occupation is destined to be erased, as is the monstrous Geneva Agreement," said Mohammed al-Hindi, the chief of Islamic Jihad, during a rally called to denounce the document.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad plan to step up protests by demonstrating outside the homes of the peace plan's Palestinian signatories - the former cabinet minister Yasser Abed Rabbo, the Minister for Prisoner Affairs, Hisham Abdel-Razek, and members of the Fatah movement.

Nizar Rayan, political leader of Hamas, told a cheering crowd of thousands: "They must be punished and prosecuted. Who gave them the right to speak on behalf of our people inside closed restaurants and air-conditioned hotel rooms? We will continue to condemn it [Geneva] and collect people's signatures and take to the streets until we bring it down just like Oslo."

With the crowd chanting "the Geneva Agreement is a betrayal", speakers attacked the calls for greater security co-ordination between Palestinians and Israel to curb militant groups, which is also a requirement of the road-map proposal to achieve peace in the Middle East.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...