Home>News Center>World

Israeli sources say Sharon's plans to get US nod
Updated: 2004-04-12 08:37

Israeli political sources said on Sunday Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will get a written U.S. pledge that in exchange for a Gaza pullout, Israel will not have to give up all of the West Bank under a future peace deal.

There was no immediate U.S. comment, three days before Sharon was due to hold talks at the White House with U.S. President Bush on his unilateral plan to withdraw from Gaza and four of the 120 Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

But an Israeli diplomat in Washington where senior U.S. and Israeli officials have been meeting ahead of Sharon's visit, said the report might be an overstatement of where the two sides currently stood.

U.S. sources in Washington said last week "understandings" had been reached with Israel on key aspects of Sharon's plan after officials close to him said he expected approval to retain parts of the West Bank.

Palestinians, while welcoming the prospect of an Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip, fear the move masks intentions to annex West Bank settlement blocs.

"I hope this visit will be successful and allow Israel to make gains on all fronts," Sharon told reporters, as his right-wing Likud party set April 29 as the date for a binding referendum among its 200,000 members on the withdrawal plan.

The vote is expected to be close. Should Likud approve Sharon's proposal, it would then be put to a vote within his cabinet and later in Israel's parliament, when it convenes in early May after a month-long recess.

The Israeli sources said Washington's assurance would come in a letter Bush will hand Sharon on Wednesday at a meeting expected to give a U.S. green light for Israel to unilaterally "disengage" from Palestinians.

The Israeli daily Haaretz, quoting from what it said was the planned letter from Bush, said borders to be established under any final peace accord would reflect "demographic realities," an allusion to large settlement enclaves in the West Bank.

A source in Sharon's office said the issue would be on the Washington agenda.

Analysts say the more benefits the United States offers Sharon, the easier it will be for him to overcome rightist resistance at home for his plan to withdraw from Gaza and four of some 120 West Bank settlements.

The Palestinians want all of the West Bank and Gaza, seized by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, for a viable state they hope to establish under a U.S.-backed peace "road map."

But sources in Sharon's office said Bush would make clear he does not expect Israel to quit all the West Bank under any deal.

"I do not know the exact wording. But it will definitely contain an insistence that Israel will not return to the 1967 border," said a source, referring to the expected Bush letter.


Palestinians cried foul.

"The side that needs assurances and guarantees is our side," Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie told reporters. His foreign minister is to visit Washington a week after Sharon.

"This is the worst American political position since 1967. We will reject it," said Yasser Abed Rabbo, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's ruling executive committee. "It replaces the road map with the Sharon plan."

The source in Sharon's office said the prime minister would reiterate Israel's commitment to the road map and the vision of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"Disengagement is good for peace. There is no doubt this plan creates an opening in the future for a peace process," Sharon said.

Sharon has said that more than three years of violence has shown that Israel has no real Palestinian peace partner. In further violence on Sunday, witnesses said Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian villager during a search for militants.

  Today's Top News     Top World News

Seven Chinese nationals kidnapped in Iraq



300,000 people protest Taiwan election



PLA brass decides on high-tech innovations



Prosecutors team up to snag corruption



Personal cheques to flourish in China



Newsweek poll: Kerry leads Bush by 7 points


  Nine hostages said freed in Iraq, Japanese still held
  Israeli sources say Sharon's plans to get US nod
  Fragile cease-fire holds in Fallujah
  Bordeaux growers think unthinkable
  US Apache copter shot down west of Baghdad
  At least 40 dead in Russian mine blast
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  Related Stories  
Two Palestinians kidnapped in Iraq - TV report
Sharon threatens Arafat in interview
Israeli soldiers remove West Bank outpost
Sharon's son must yield graft probe papers
Sharon's son told to hand over documents
Hamas leader: Bush is enemy of God, Islam
  News Talk  
  April Fool's!