(photo credit: AP [file])
Egypt questioned Saturday the effectiveness of the "road map" to bring peace between Israelis and Palestinians, with President Hosni Mubarak's office saying the Egyptian leader sent a letter to the White House with a counterproposal.
Established in 2003, the US-backed "road map" calls for the dismantling of Palestinian terror groups, a freezing of Israeli settlement activity and the creation of a provisional Palestinian state before a final deal is signed.
But the Palestinians reject the idea of a provisional state, believing it would enable Israel to usurp much of the West Bank, where Israel is pressing ahead with West Bank settlement construction.
Egypt, a regional heavyweight and a top US ally, is a regular mediator in the crisis and is leading efforts to reconcile Palestinian factions whose weeks of deadly fighting have further stalled negotiations for a broader settlement with Israel.
"The last few years proved that unilateral steps ... didn't work out, and its time to talk about a comprehensive peace agreement between the Palestinian and the Israeli sides," Egyptian presidential spokesman Suleiman Awaad told reporters Saturday.
Only broader talks will put the long-stalled peace process in motion again, said the presidential spokesman.
He said Mubarak has sent a letter to US President George W. Bush carrying details of a new Egyptian peace proposal as an alternative to the road map, which he described as having failed.
"The road map stumbled on its first stage, so how about the second phase?" Awaad said.
The spokesman did not describe Mubarak's new proposal, but said the Egyptian leader would discuss it on Monday with visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He said Mubarak's new plan aims a "breaking the frozen peace process."
The Egyptian spokesman warned against a plan proposed recently by the Israeli foreign minister that calls for establishing a provisional Palestinian state with a border following the contentious barrier Israel is building along the West Bank.
"Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian brothers are mindful that by establishing a Palestinian state with temporary borders, such state will always remain provisional," Awaad said.