Photo: AFP
Abbas and Bush. American pressure on PA
Photo: AFP
Photo: Reuters
Shaath. Diplomatic incident
Photo: Reuters

U.S. scolds Abbas for Shaath's remarks

During U.S. summit, PA chairman Abbas reproached by officials for Palestinian minister's comments on Bush during T.V. interview. Abbas fails to secure American support for speeding up diplomatic talks

A high ranking American government official reproached Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas Thursday, for embarrassing remarks PA Information Minister Nabil Shaath made during a television interview to the BBC, Ynet has learned.


In an interview to the British channel several weeks ago, Shaath alluded to a meeting that was held between him, then PA Prime Minister Abbas and American President George W. Bush in June 2003, during which, according to Shaath, the U.S. president declared that his Middle-Eastern policy was motivated by what he called "a mission from God."


According to Shaath, Bush said he was instructed by God to launch American invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq.


American officials were outraged by Shaath's words, and Bush himself has denied the contents of the interview.


Abbas was reproved for the incident shortly before his meeting with Bush in the White House Thursday.


No concrete accomplishments for Abbas


The PA chairman has left Washington without having achieved his goal to persuade the American government to forego the implementation of the Road Map peace plan, and move directly to talks over a permanent resolution to the regional dispute.


Bush has even hinted that the establishment of a Palestinian state may not be realized during his term in office.


The American president has also stressed that progress in the diplomatic process will depend on the activities on the ground, and that no stage agreed upon in the Road Map plan will be forfeited.


While during his joint press conference with Abbas, Bush maintained a calm and balanced appearance, the president was reportedly less poised behind closed doors. Bush asserted pressure on Abbas to crackdown on terror groups in Gaza.


Palestinian sources in Washington confirmed that Bush demanded that Abbas start exercising control over "armed groups" and enforcing law and order in Gaza.


The use of the term "armed groups," the sources said, indicated that the government expects Abbas to move against factions associated with the PA and the Fatah as well.


No American pressure to ban Hamas from elections


On the issue of Hamas participation in the general elections in the Authority, the Americans have however presented a less decisive stance.


Bush refrained from openly supporting the Israeli standpoint on the matter, which states Hamas should be banned from the elections.


The Americans have refrained from the question in a bid to avoid accusations they are interfering with PA internal political matters.


Abbas was however asked how it would be possible for the Hamas to participate in the elections without it has disarmed. The chairman responded by explaining that if popular figures in the Palestinian public are prevented from running in the elections, the entire electoral process may be perceived as illegitimate.


Abbas was also presented with a letter signed by 50 congress members, stating that a terror organization must not be allowed to take part in democratic elections. It appeared, however, that the Palestinian leader remained firm in his decision to allow such participation.


פרסום ראשון: 10.21.05, 18:17
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