The U.S. administration is divided on what sort of gesture to offer to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is scheduled to meet with President George W. Bush on Thursday at the White House.
Following a meeting at Sharm el-Sheikh with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Saturday, Abbas called on the U.S. to define clearly its position on the implementation of the road map peace plan.
Palestinians are concerned that the U.S. Administration lacks the determination to press for the revival of diplomatic effort, and that the current Israeli government would continue to block attempts to revive diplomatic efforts, forcing de facto conditions, created by the implementation of the disengagement plan, to become a long term interim solution.
The Palestinian Authority would like to see the American gesture to Abbas take the form of compensation for the guarantees given to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in return for his support of disengagement.
Abbas is seeking a written letter of assurances from Bush, like the one Sharon received, but American officials believe that the American Administration is likely geared towards a public declaration by Bush during Abbas’ visit.
According to sources in Washington, Some administration officials have proposed a gesture to help Abbas, mainly to strengthen him ahead of elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council; however, other officials oppose a gesture that goes beyond already made promises.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s adviser Dov Weissglas will meet Tuesday in Washington with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. Weissglas is expected to lobby against providing Abbas with additional gestures, and to try to convince Americans that any extra promises to Abbas will make things difficult for Sharon domestically in terms of disengagement.