U.S. Lowers Interest in Israeli-Palestinian Dispute

(Ha'aretz) Aluf Benn - The U.S. administration has lowered its level of interest in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and ceased efforts to renew the political process as it focuses on the war in Iraq and President Bush's reelection. Israeli sources said American moves cutting loan guarantees to match Israeli investment in settlements were very low-key and that the U.S. is working to foil a Palestinian effort to move the fence issue to the international criminal court in The Hague. U.S. Ambassador Dan Kurtzer is working closely with Mike Herzog, the defense minister's military secretary, to reach an agreement on the number of outposts that must be removed. Many of the outposts are regarded as extensions of existing settlements. With National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice focused on Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in the hands of Elliot Abrams, who is micromanaging the daily events. Secretary of State Powell has stepped into the vacuum left by Rice, and he no doubt is enjoying getting back at Sharon, such as with his readiness to meet with the Geneva Accord organizers. After the failure of PA prime minister Mahmoud Abbas, a Bush favorite, the administration is in no hurry to embrace Ahmed Qurei. Assistant Secretary of State William Burns told Qurei during their meeting over the weekend to stop posing preconditions for a meeting with Sharon, Israeli sources said Sunday.

2003-12-03 00:00:00

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