The U.S. government is working to prevent Israeli military responses which could damage the diplomatic process, following the terror attack in Gush Etzion in which three Israelis were murdered. At the same time, the American government is pressuring the Palestinian Authority to begin disbanding armed militias.
The U.S. government, which "condemns the attacks" of terrorists, is pressing the Authority "not only to prevent terror attacks, but also to disband terror networks behind the attacks," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.
At the same time, security coordinator General William Ward released a statement in which he said that the U.S. government is "continuing to ask Israel, as it has previously requested, to take steps to ease the day to day lives of Palestinians," in response to Israel's decision to limit Palestinian traffic in the West Bank after the drive-by attack in Gush Etzion.
U.S. President George W. Bush will meet with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in the White House on Thursday, during a difficult time from the perspective of the Palestinian leader. Abbas met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarrak and with French President Jacque Chirac on Thursday, during which Abbas condemned Sunday's attack.
The Americans have decided not to wait until Thursday to begin diplomatic initiatives aimed at pressuring both sides to ensure a calm atmosphere and the continuance of security dialogue, led by General Ward.
McCormack also referred to Israel's decision to cut off ties with the Palestinians, saying: "The dialogue is important and the contacts are important. We hope that the sides will take the consequences of their actions into consideration."
The comments were mainly aimed at Israel. "We understand and support Israel's right to defend herself," said the American spokesman. "As we are ourselves victims of terror, we understand the need and the obligation of every government to defend its citizens," he said.
He added, however, that "we also understand that there is a diplomatic process in which the Israelis and the Palestinians are involved in. In terms of peace, stability and security in the long range, disagreements must be solved through the diplomatic process."