American President George W. Bush is expected to pressure Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, on their Thursday meeting, in order to end the attacks carried out by resistance groups against Israeli targets in the occupied West Bank.
A senior source at the American administration said that in spite of the U.S pressure on Abbas to disarm the resistance, he might receive what was described as “sympathetic hearing” for his complaints regarding Israeli settlement activities and expansion in the West Bank.
In a bid to bar Hamas from participating in the January legislative elections, the United States is expected to ask Abbas to condition that each candidate should denounce “violence and the usage of illegal means” in order to be allowed to run for candidacy.
Abbas is expected to reject American pressures in order to dismantle Hamas, a Palestinian source reported, but Abbas called on Hamas to be part of the political process which will eventually lead to disarmament.
Also, US officials asked Israel not to interfere in the election since such an act could strengthen Hamas and increase the support it already enjoys.
The U.S administration believes that now, after Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip, there are more chances to revive the Road Map Plan that envisions the establishment of an independent Palestinian State.
Also, the shooting attack against settlers in the West Bank which left three killed and four injured in Gush Etzion junction, near the West Bank city of Hebron, on Sunday, added more difficulties to the mission of Abbas.
Yet, one Palestinian was killed by the army on the same day in the West Bank city in Jenin. The resident is believed to be a leader of Al Quds brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad movement.
White House spokesperson, Scott McClellan, said that the Palestinian leadership can do more to end the violence, without referring to the Israeli military activities in the occupied West Bank which significantly increased in several West Bank areas including Hebron, Jenin and Tulkarem.
Palestinian officials said on Thursday that Abbas will tell Bush that the Gaza pullout raised hopes for peace, but also Bush’s vision of a viable Palestinian state in the West Bank gives further chances for peace.
Abbas hopes to achieve American support and pressure Israel to halt settlement construction and expansion in the West Bank.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed American objection to the Israeli plan to expand the Maali Adumim settlement and link it with Jerusalem by annexing Palestinian lands east of the city which will block the geographical contiguity of the Palestinian areas.
The settlement expansion project is known as E-1 intends to construct some 3500 homes for the settlers; Maali Adumim is the largest settlement in the West Bank.
Rice said that the U.S would deduct “some of the sources” it provides to Israel because of settlement activities in the Wets Bank.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, repeatedly stated that Israel will never evacuate large settlement blocks in the Wets Bank where approximately 240.000 settlers are living, disregarding the fact that settlements are constructed on Palestinian lands which were annexed by Israel.
Also, Abbas hopes to end the argument over the Rafah Border Crossing in the Gaza Strip which left Gaza completely sealed up after it was closed following the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
Abbas wishes to arrive to an agreement to operate and open the Rafah crossing, and to open the sea and air ports in Gaza, in addition to achieving free land route to the West Bank.