Ahead of the visit of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Washington, sources in the US government expressed reservations over the schedule for unilateral action. "No one is presenting a schedule. There is time for everyone. Olmert too is talking about 2007. Until then, changes can take place in Palestinian politics," the sources said, adding: "The pressure on Hamas is only at the beginning, and we could see a change."
While the US prefers to wait, Europe has made an unequivocal declaration that unilateral steps are unacceptable in its view. French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said at the end of a meeting Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni that "the stance of the European Union and France is a correct decision which can be kept, and won't be obtained in any way other than negotiations between the sides. It is unacceptable that an international border be drawn up unilaterally."
The Americans will tell Olmert that the US is interested in Israel renewing contacts with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, especially over the issues of cooperation on border crossings and humanitarian aid.
'I'll meet with Abbas if he fights terror'
Olmert has expressed willingness to meet with Abbas during a meeting with the French foreign minister. With that, Olmert conditioned the meeting on Abbas fighting terrorism.
"Mahmoud Abbas must start to keep the obligations the Palestinians took on themselves in the context of the Road Map," said Olmert.
In Washington, the US expects to hear about Olmert's plan, but won't express support or objection to the plan, which has still not been formulated to the point of details. Bush and Olmert will meet on Tuesday, and American National Security Council has prepared a list of ten questions, lined to the question, that will be presented to Olmert during his visit.
Olmert will also be asked if the IDF will remain on both sides of the security fence after the withdrawal, as well as the timing of discussions with Jordan on its involvement in the plan. Other questions will probe the security fence's legal standing, and whether Israeli views the fence as a base for an international border.
The US will tell Olmert that it has not changed its stance supporting a solution obtained through negotiations between the sides for the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel, and President Bush will seek to know how Olmert's plan fits into that principle.