Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Tuesday that a coordinated disengagement could signal a "new era of trust" with the Palestinians.
Addressing the audience in the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C., the Israeli prime minister said that Israel is willing to assist Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as much as possible, as long as it does not endanger Israel’s security.
“We see a great opportunities in the election of Abbas. We hope he will be able to lead his people and create a democratic, law-abiding society,” Sharon said, calling upon the new Palestinian leadership to fight “terror” and dismantle “terrorist” organizations.
On Monday, in a closed session in New York, Sharon questioned the commitment of all Arab leaders to signed agreements with Israel.
“Without hurting the Arab world, it must be established that their agreements, declarations, and speeches are not worth the paper they were printed on,” he said.
“It’s safer to sign agreements with President Bush than with the Arab world.” He added.
The noted shift in Sharon’s stand on Abbas and the PA is likely due to U.S. pressure or due to concerns that uncoordinated pullout would take place under intensive Hamas fire.
Sharon promised that upon arrival to Israel, He will present a plan to release 400 Palestinian prisoners for cabinet approval, and expressed willingness to transfer more West Bank cities to PA security control.
“I appreciate Chairman Abbas’ decision to condemn violence and terrorism. With this approach, it can be a partner in implementing the [internationally-brokered] road map and to move the process forward," Sharon said.
Yet, on Monday, Sharon told Israel Bonds leaders in New York large Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank, including Maaleh Adumim, Gush Etzion, and Ariel, will remain part of Israel forever.
Also, Sharon vowed to keep Jerusalem united.
“My government will not negotiate Jerusalem; the Israeli capital is united and indivisible for eternity." Sharon said.
Earlier in the week, Sharon also dismissed Palestinian refugees’ right to return.
If Jerusalem, settlements, and refugees rights are not open for discussion, then what would be the point of reviving the road map peace plan?