American envoy to the Middle East, David Welch, said on Friday during a visit to the West Bank city of Ramallah, that the United States strongly believes that Palestinians everywhere are entitled to vote in the January 25 Palestinian Legislative elections.
The statements of Welch came after meeting with the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, in Ramallah. U.S. deputy national security adviser Elliot Abrams also participated in the meeting.
Chief Palestinian negotiator, Dr. Saeb Erekat, said that Abbas emphasized during the meeting that the elections are very crucial to the Palestinians, especially in East Jerusalem.
Also, Abbas told Welch that Israel should remove checkpoints, which are isolating the Palestinian areas, in order to allow free movement of candidates and constituents.
The Israeli cabinet is expected to vote Sunday on allowing the vote to take place in East Jerusalem at post offices, Israeli online daily Haaretz reported.
Haaretz added that the Israeli acting Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, along with advisers Dov Weissglas, Shalom Turjeman and Gadi Shamni, the military secretary to the Sharon, also met with Welch, U.S. assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, and Elliott Abrams.
Olmert and several top advisers told the U.S. envoys that the Palestinian Authority (P.A) could collapse if Hamas takes after winning the legislative elections.
During the meeting, Israeli and American officials discussed "what might happen if Hamas wins the elections", and ways to strengthen, Mahmoud Abbas.
On Thursday, met Welch and Abrams and told them Israel expects Abbas to present a detailed plan for dismantling the armed groups.
Mofaz said that there will be no negotiations with the P.A if Hamas takes control and "does not denounce terror".
Olmert will most likely visit Washington in early February, after the Palestinian elections in order to hold talks with the U.S. President George W. Bush on the way to "create a policy for the day after the elections".
Yet, if Fateh movement does well, they will talk about moving the peace process forward; if Hamas gets stronger, Bush and Olmert will hold talks on ways to deal with the new political structure of the P.A.
The preparation for this visit have not started yet, Bush and Olmert spoke over phone on Thursday, for the first time since Sharon was hospitalized.