Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, is heading on Tuesday to the New York to attend meetings with world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly this week, and to declare the “end of Israel’s responsibility for the Gaza Strip”.

The main aim of Sharon’s trip is to harvest the fruits of his pullout plan which was concluded on Monday, and to demonstrate to the Israeli public the contribution of the Gaza pullout in improving Israel’s international image. 

Sharon wants international recognition that Israel has ended its control of the Gaza Strip, and that the Palestinian Authority (P.A) is now responsible for the fate of the Palestinians there.

After advised by the position of his Foreign Ministry, Sharon decided that it is out of place to declare “the end of occupation in Gaza”, since the P.A does not control the airspace and territorial waters, and decided to use the term “end of Israeli responsibility in Gaza”. 

Also, Sharon plans to counter the Palestinian objections to his policy of deepening the occupation in the West Bank by planning to expand settlements, especially the Maali Adumin project and linking the settlement with Jerusalem, and continue the construction of the Separation Wall.

The Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported that Sharon intends to highlight disengagement, and to call on the P.A to what was described as “taking advantage of the opportunity, and advance towards implementing the Road Map Plan”. 

Also, Sharon will demand the P.A to counter resistance factions as a condition to advance in peace talks, yet he will say that he will not discuss Jerusalem, Haaretz added.

Sharon, while at the US, will meet the American President, George W. Bush, and the leaders of Turkey, Russia, Canada, Australia, U.K, and The European Union in addition to the UN secretary General.

Sharon has scheduled a meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan, and will try to meet with Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir (prince) of Qatar. Other meetings may take place between Sharon and Muslim dignitaries, including “a hallway” conversation with Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani President.

Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Minister Sylvan Shalom will be leaving to the U.S on Tuesday at night, and will meet for the first time with his Indonesian counterpart, Noer Hassan Wirajuda.

Also, Shalom will be attending Sharon’s political meetings, and will hold separate meetings with Arab Foreign Ministers. He might meet with his Pakistani counterpart, Khurshid Kasuri, whom he previously met in Istanbul earlier this month.

Israeli Industry, Trade and Employment Minister Ehud Olmert, cancelled on Monday the need for a license to import from Pakistan, and signed the exemption; the Israeli Foreign Ministry welcomed this step and considered it as “a signal that Israel is ready to advance the relations with the largest Muslim country in Asia”.

Israeli political sources reported that Sharon will thank Bush for his support, but will not talk about the Israeli request to the States for aid to develop Negev and Galilee in view of Hurricane Katrina. The aid application is on hold on until a more suitable time, Haaretz reported. 

The Bush administration has been working secretly to ensure that European and Arab country will not “pressure” Sharon to end his policies in the occupied territories, and only focus on the “accomplishments of disengagement”.