Sharon told Friday U.S. envoy Eliot Abrams he would keep his promise to remove unauthorized settlersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ outposts.
‘I am steadfast in my promise on the issue of the outposts,’ he said. ‘It’s true that the pace of evacuation until now is not alright, but I hope that we will move the issue forward quickly.’ The Israeli Prime minister said.
American and Israeli sources said Thursday that the Bush administration does not plan to exert pressure on Israel over these issues of outposts and construction in settlements during election season.
In response to American mild criticisms on IsraelÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s intentions to construct 600 more housing units in order to link the settlement of MaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ale Adumim to Jerusalem, Sharon’s bureau chief, Dov Weisglass told Abrams that those units were part of an old construction plan for the expansion of an existing neighborhood in the built-up area of Ma’aleh Adumim.
Abrams will meet with Labor Party chairman Shimon Peres Friday.
Sharon Denies Plan to Expand a WB Settlement
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon denied plans to create territorial continuity between Jerusalem and the West bank settlement of MaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ale Adumim.
Army Radio reported Thursday that the housing and construction and defense ministries will soon complete a plan to create a new settlement comprising thousands of housing units north of Jerusalem. The new settlement would create a territorial continuity with the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim.
A source in the Prime Minister Office said Thursday that Sharon confirmed to the United States envoy Eliot Abrams that Ã¢â‚¬Å“there are no such plans.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Even when no official information were available on the Thursday talks between Sharon and the American envoy, media sources reported that Abrams demanded explanations on the continued construction in settlements contrary to the terms of the road map.
American sources said that Abrams, the U.S. National Security Council Senior Director for Near East Affairs, requested clarification of the plan to build 600 new homes in Ma’aleh Adumim.
American sources predicted Thursday that Abrams might be carrying a strongly-worded letter expressing American frustration at Sharon’s failure to keep promises made to Washington.
Abrams met earlier on Thursday with Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and updated him on his Thursday morning meeting with Palestinian Prime minister Ahmed Qurei.
Palestinian Minister Saeb Erekat described the meeting with the American envoy as ‘positive.’, but concluded that Washington is still far from taking an active role to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
U.S. Frustrated over Sharon’s failure to Fulfill Promises
In a move reflecting ‘frustration and bitterness’, the U.S. administration is considering sending Israel a letter listing unfulfilled obligations and promises.
A senior American source said that the administration is frustrated over Israeli Prime minister Ariel Sharon’s failure to evacuate the illegal outposts or freeze the construction in the settlements, as he had promised.
The letter to Israel is intended to remind Israel that the American administration’s expects a swift implementation of obligations.
Senior administration officials accuses that Sharon is taking advantage of the fact that the U.S. is in an elections period, knowing it will not worsen the relations with him.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted A senior American source as saying ‘When President Bush is elected for a second term he will no longer treat Sharon as he did the first term if the promises are not kept.’
Administration sources say that for 18 months Sharon’s promises have not been kept and this is harming his credibility and status in Washington.
An Israeli official source said that Israel intends to ask the Bush administration for a different understanding that allows Israel to expand major settlement blocs.
U.S. complains came ahead of Negotiations slated to begin in coming weeks on demarcation of construction borders for each West Bank settlement.
Israeli plans to demand a special status that allows Israel to expand major settlement blocks parallel to the implementation of the disengagement plan.
A senior Israeli political official cited Ma’aleh Adumim, Gush Etzion, Ariel, Immanuel, Betar Ilit, and Modi’in Ilit as examples of such blocs.
Israeli Defense Ministry confirmed Monday the approval of 600 new housing units in the West bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim after Sharon gave his go ahead a month ago.
The White House’s Senior Director for Near East Elliott Abrams is due to arrive in Israel on Thursday.
Abrams is scheduled to meet Sharon and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom to discuss issues related to the West Bank separation wall, Israel’s settlement construction, unauthorized settlement outposts, and the humanitarian aspects of West Bank and Gaza Strip checkpoints.
‘We continue to pressure them [ Israel] to live up to their commitments as defined in the road map.’ State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said Tuesday after a meeting between Israeli and American officials in Washington.