US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, said on Wednesday that it made it clear for Israel that settlement construction between Jerusalem and Maali Adumim settlement contradicts with the American policy.

In a speech before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Rice said that the United States is concerned about settlement construction and expansion around Jerusalem, adding that the US administration reduced its financial support for Israel as a result of the continuous settlement activities.

The Bush administration is asking the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, to require candidates in the upcoming January’s elections to “renounce violence” as a means of easing tensions with Israel, a senior U.S. official said Wednesday.

But Edward Abington, a former U.S. consul-general in Jerusalem, said Abbas prefers bringing Hamas and other militant groups into the political process where he hopes to bind them to law-and-order legislation.

“In the lections process, you can’t cherry-pick between those you like and those who you don’t like”, Abington said, “If they are elected, they will be bound by the laws and legislations passed by the legislature”.

Meanwhile, the US administration urged the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to dismantle Hamas and other movements.

Abbas is due to meet Bush on Thursday at the White House, officials at the US administration held talks with Palestinian officials in Washington ahead of the meeting between the two leaders.

Bush and Abbas and slated to hold a press conference in the Rose Garden; Bush is expected to praise the leadership of Abbas, and his determination to “counter terrorism”, according to a source at the White House.

American officials said that they hope that the meeting will boost Abbas’ status and empower the Palestinian Authority.

Earlier on Wednesday the American leadership said the Bush administration is asking Abbas to ask the legislative council candidates to “renounce violence” before running the January 2006 elections.

Meanwhile, former U.S consul-general in Jerusalem, Edward Abington, said that the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, prefer to bring Hamas and other groups into the political process in order to bind them by law-and-order legislation.

Also on Wednesday, Israeli foreign Minister, Sylvan Shalom, said that Hamas should not be allowed to participate in the elections, and that this demand is not illegal.

“Our demand to bar Hamas for participating in the elections is legitimate”, Shalom said, “We are protecting democracy itself from a terrorist organization”.