Israeli sources said on Thursday that the U.S. administration will not push the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to disarm resistance groups until after the Palestinian parliamentary elections are over.
Abbas is currently visiting Washington for talks with the U.S. President George W. Bush, for the first time since he was elected President to success Yasser Arafat in early January.
Abbas was also slated to meet with Congressmen and to meet with Vice President Richard Cheney Wednesday night. In addition, he is to meet with some American Jewish leaders known to favor the peace process.
On arrival, Abbas said, "We expect a clear political stance from the U.S. on the implementation of the road map and economic support, and we hope to get it."
Abbas is slated to raise the issue of settlement expansion and Israeli land expropriations for the separation fence, particularly in the Jerusalem area and to present maps showing the details of Israeli control.
According to sources in Abbas’ entourage, there is an understanding that the Bush Administration will be temporarily satisfied with a commitment to be made by the Palestinian Authority to take action against arm smuggling in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Israel has halted most of the security arrangements with the Palestinian Authority until action is taken against resistance groups. Israeli government froze the transfer of security control over Palestinian cities, and demanded the PA to disarm resistance groups in the two cities already handed over to the PA. The PA said it already collected arms.
For several months, Israel has been trying to persuade the American Administration that Abbas is weak saying he is unable to dismantle resistance group. However, U.S. officials said they will support Abbas despite concerns over his weakness and made it clear to Israel that it must fulfill commitments made at the Sharm A-Sheikh summit in February.
They said Israel must continue with the hand over of the West Bank towns to the PA, release security prisoners and remove checkpoints that redistrict Palestinian freedom of movement in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Israel has pledged to release 900 prisoners in Sharm, however, only 500 have been released.
Palestinian Minister of Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners Affairs, Sufian Abu Zaida, commented that Sharon is "trying to make the release of 400 Palestinian prisoners who were supposed to be released two months ago according to Sharm Al-Sheikh agreement sound like a huge concession."
"Israel released 500 prisoners three months ago, as part of the agreement to release 900 prisoners, but has arrested over 500 during the last three months, which means that the number of prisoners is still the same," stated Abu Zaida.