Reporters on the Job

Inaldo PeREZ/AP
Thirteen Colombian police officers wounded in the line of duty made a 250-mile journey by wheelchair this week to draw attention to the plight of dozens of hostages held by FARC.

New Palestinian Peace Plan: Staff writer Ilene Prusher says that meeting the richest man in the West Bank was like meeting a well-schooled gentleman from a bygone era.

"Munib al-Masri wears a finely tailored suit, speaks elegant English, and likes to kiss the hand of a lady when he bids he farewell, and somehow manages to do so without seeming chauvinist or dated," she says. " He told her that he's rarely slept more than four hours a day, so he feels he's already lived two lifetimes.

" 'If I were smart, I'd live in Tuscany now,' he joked with me when we met last week. Having made more than he needs, he acknowledged, he'd intended to retire by now. But that was before the Palestinian-Israeli peace process fell apart. "

The violent split within Palestinian society last summer was for him the final sign that he still had a lot of work to do. "If Gaza is detached from the West Bank, my dream is shattered. I want to see a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as both capitals, and I'm in a hurry." His kids, he says, laugh at him. "My children think I'm the biggest liar, because every year I tell them, soon. In two more years we'll have a Palestinian state."

On Thursday, Mr. Masri launched his own peace initiative: the Palestine Forum, an effort to reconcile the secular Fatah faction controlling the West Bank and Islamic Hamas in Gaza (see story).

David Clark Scott

World editor

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