U.N.: Sharon, Pakistani president meet
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf approaches Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, shakes his hand and introduces his wife to the prime minister during U.N. summit; earlier U.S. president meets with Sharon; says he is a brave leader to have carried out pullout; government official says
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf approached Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, shook his hand and introduced his wife to the prime minister during Wednesday's U.N. General Assembly summit deliberations in New York.
Earlier Sharon met with U.S. President George Bush, who said, "now is the time for Palestinians to come together and establish a government that will be peaceful with Israel and Gaza is a good chance to start."
"I'm looking forward to our meeting. I've said several times publicly that I am inspired by your courageous decision to give peace a chance," he said. "I know it was hard, but I admire your courage."
Turning to Sharon, the president said, "I look forward to talking to you about how we can get on the road map."
"The world needs to help the Palestinians. The Arab neighbors need to help the Palestinians develop an economy," he said. "Now is the time for people to step up. It's an opportunity that was created by a bold decision, and I want to work together to see the vision of peace come to be."
Sharon responded by saying, "Thank you. Mr. President, I'm glad to meet with you again. I'm glad that we are working together in order to achieve peace in the region."
During the meeting, Sharon also informed Bush of the recent incidences along the Philadelphi route and of the Palestinian security forces inability to control the thousands of Gaza residents who entered Egypt and the evacuated Jewish settlements over the past few days.
Bush responded by saying that the PA must prove it is fighting against terror and that quiet in Gaza in a condition for continuing the peace process between Israel and the PA.
What about Pollard?
Eventually to conversation lead to a more sensitive subject for Israel - the release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard.
"Pollard has sat in prison for 20 years," Sharon said, turning to Bush. "Release him, it will help me."
However, Bush's response was unequivocal.
"This was not what I had in mind when I said we would assist. My answer has not changed," he said.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, Advisor to the Prime Minister Dov Weisgalss and Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Danny Ayalon were also present in the meeting.
Sharon later met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Erdogan, the prime minister that his country will be involved "in the financial aspects of the Gaza Strip rehabilitation," and praised Sharon for carrying out the pullout from Gaza.
Sharon said in response that if any political developments with the Palestinians are to take place, "I will be happy to hold the talks in Turkey."
He is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin later Wednesday.
Sources: Sharon's speech is 'balanced'
The prime minister is expected to speak at the U.N. summit Thursday and to announce Israel's recognition of the right for a Palestinian state, in the framework of the U.S-backed road map peace plan.
He is expected to start his speech by saying, "I have come to you from Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel," and to demand the Palestinians put an end to their culture of hatred and to use the opportunities created since Israel's unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
Sharon is also expected to say that the Palestinians now have an opportunity to fulfill their aspirations, now that Israel no longer controls the Gaza Strip.
He will also emphasize the need for the Palestinian Authority to enforce law and order and to fight terror.
Sources close to Sharon have said that the prime minister's speech is "balanced" and will deal with the Palestinians right to establish a state and the need to return to Bush's road map peace plan.
A senior official in the Prime Minister's Office said that that the central message of Sharon's speech is, "I did what I did for my nation and this is an opportunity for the Palestinians to take things into their own hands. This is their chance; Israel has lived up to its end of the bargain."
Meanwhile, a government official said earlier that Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom is expected to secretly meet with several officials from Arab countries during his stay in New York. However, he could not elaborate which countries were in question.
PA minister: Israel destroyed everything in Gaza
Palestinian Foreign Minister Nasser al-Kidwa told Ynet in New York that "the publications regarding the reasons for (former PA leader Yasser) Arafat's death is nonsense."
"According to our knowledge, we have not yet received final answers. The only thing that can be done is to leave the file open," he said. "What was published is nonsense."
Speaking to reporters, al-Kidwa said, "Israel destroyed everything in Gaza and decided to close the border crossings despite the total destruction. Israel also left the synagogues, which goes against international law."
"The situation in Rafah was chaotic. We did not want this situation, however it occurred because of the unilateral move," he said. "We are willing to do the maximum, but you must remember that everything was destroyed."