U.S. Micro-Managing Israeli-Arab Conflict

(Ha'aretz) Aluf Benn - A seasoned American official with years of experience in the Israeli-Arab conflict remarked recently that he could not recall a time when the U.S. had so "micro-managed" the Mideast political process as it was doing today. Secretary of State Colin Powell told his hosts in Jerusalem on Friday that the close American supervision reflects President Bush's deep involvement in the peace process. Powell's visit will be followed next week by the arrival of National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. Special American envoy John Wolf has already begun actively participating in the security talks. The meetings Rice and her staff held last week with Dov Weisglass, the head of the Prime Minister's bureau, Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter, and the prime minister's military secretary, Yoav Galant, sounded like an "operational forum" at army headquarters. The sides reached understandings on the "rules of the game" during the period between the IDF's withdrawal (from parts of Gaza) and the acceptance of security responsibility by the PA. The Americans said, "If there are terrorists who are hiding, action has to be taken," and that "ticking bombs" must be taken out as quickly as possible. It was agreed that Israel would only act if the Palestinians failed to do so. The view in the Prime Minister's Office is that the understandings reached with the Americans are essential, and that the White House has kept its promise to take into consideration Israel's reservations regarding the road map. The discussions on the implementation of the plan are focusing on the security aspects, as Israel requested; and the mechanism for monitoring implementation is limited in size and mandate, and is made up solely of Americans.

2003-06-23 00:00:00

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