U.S. to Press Palestinians, Israel

(New York Times) Steven Weisman - Administration officials cautioned that Israel and the Palestinians needed to take concrete steps to capitalize on Abbas's election. American, European, and Arab diplomats said in interviews over the past week that progress would depend on Abbas gaining control of his security forces, achieving further financial and political reforms, and doing much more to fill the vacuum in Gaza to be left by the Israeli withdrawal this summer. "The Palestinians have not done anything to prepare for the Israeli withdrawal," one senior official said. "There'll be lots of help from the international community, but the Palestinians need to get their house in order." Administration officials said there would be renewed American pressure on Israel to remove so-called settlement outposts in the West Bank and to work with the U.S. to define a freeze in "settlement activity" there that would stop the expansion of settlements in at least parts of the West Bank. "The issue of settlement outposts cannot be postponed until after the Gaza withdrawal," said the senior administration official. "This was a pledge to the president, and that pledge has to be redeemed." There is expected to be renewed pressure in Europe from the Palestinians and from Arabs to do something that American and Israeli officials say they are loath to do: start talking about such issues as the final boundaries of a Palestinian state and the right of Palestinians to return to Israel.

2005-01-10 00:00:00

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