U.S. Seeks Safeguards for Israel's Gaza Pullout

(Washington Post) In the absence of Palestinian action against militant groups, the Bush administration has for many weeks signaled that it is supportive of Sharon's plan to "disengage" from the Palestinians. Deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley, national security senior director Elliott Abrams, and Assistant Secretary of State William Burns are arriving in Israel Wednesday with a list of questions to better understand how the plan would unfold, how it is connected to possible unilateral steps on the West Bank, and how it meshes with the broader goal of establishing a Palestinian state. U.S. officials are especially concerned that the PA is so weakened that Hamas could emerge as the de facto ruler in Gaza in the wake of Israel's departure. Israeli officials say they also do not want a Hamas ascendancy in Gaza, but they appear to welcome a fracturing of the Palestinians, such as the emergence of Dahlan as a sort of mayor of Gaza. A White House invitation for Sharon to visit Washington will not be forthcoming until the administration reaches an understanding on the scope of Sharon's plan.

2004-02-18 00:00:00

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