U.S. May Support Israel's Unilateral Moves

(New York Times) Steven Weisman - The Bush administration, signaling a major shift of policy on the Middle East, has indicated that it may support Israel's new proposal for a unilateral withdrawal from parts of Gaza and the West Bank, according to administration and Israeli officials. A senior American official said that the administration is "taking a close look" at the policy. Embracing Sharon's plan would mean accepting the idea that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians are not possible, at least for now. "Our assessment is that the administration is very receptive to the plan of Prime Minister Sharon, on the basis that it is within the context of the vision of President Bush and also within the road map," said Ambassador Daniel Ayalon of Israel. American officials say they are extremely concerned that they are not seen as walking away from the idea of a negotiated settlement or from pressure on the Palestinians to take charge of security in Gaza and the West Bank. However, increasingly, administration officials have said negotiations were impossible because of Palestinian recalcitrance. Martin Indyk, ambassador to Israel under President Clinton, said the Bush administration's challenge was "to get behind this plan and shape it to make it work to the benefit of an ultimate settlement." Israelis, he said, had given up on the PA because it had failed to stop terrorism.

2004-02-13 00:00:00

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