On the day Israel announced the conclusion of the IDF’s Autumn Clouds operation in Gaza and ahead of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s scheduled trip to Washington next week, an American diplomat called on Israel to ‘decrease its activity in Gaza to a minimum.’
The senior official said that despite the fact that the US sympathizes with Israel’s position regarding the incessant Qassam attacks and its efforts to bring about the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, the country must apply a diplomatic strategy along with a military one.
The diplomat called on Israel to release the detained Hamas ministers and parliamentarians it is holding, unless there is any evidence against them; ‘in this case, they should be put on trial,’ he said.
As to the Palestinian Authority government the official said that while the US was disappointed with Hamas’ rise to power, ‘it’s still preferable that the Authority be governed in a democratic fashion.’
Turning his attention to the situation in the Middle East, the diplomat said the US supports the holding of a meeting between Olmert and Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.
'No point in negotiations'
The official said the Bush Administration understands Israel’s need to conduct flyovers over Lebanese territory, but warned that the flyovers may serve as an excuse for Hizbullah to resume its attacks.
The diplomat expressed doubts over Syrian President Bashar Assad’s ‘peace proposals,’ saying Damascus must present ‘concrete offers.’
The US does not see the point in negotiations between Israel and Syria at present time, he said.
The official further stated that he did not believe Israel would attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, as ‘Israel has repeatedly stated that this is an international problem and such an attack would make it an Israeli one.’
The US does not oppose to Arab countries obtaining nuclear capabilities for civilian purposes, he said, but it does fear that this would encourage other Arab countries to launch nuclear programs of their own.