This one's definitely worth a read. I'm glad to see my hard-earned tax dollars at work. What an incredible contrast with the EU position:
U.S.: No contact until PA meets all demands
WASHINGTON - Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat must fulfill every one of the demands on a list the Bush administration recently sent him before the United States agrees to resume contacts with him, senior administration officials said this week.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell gave this message to the speaker of the Palestinian parliament, Ahmed Qureia (Abu Ala), during their meeting in Washington on Monday, and he later reiterated it publicly. Speaking to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday, he said that Arafat "must act decisively to confront the sources of terror and choose once and for all the option of peace over violence. He cannot have it both ways."
This is good news for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who plans to tell the Americans when he goes to Washington tomorrow that pressure must be stepped up on Arafat until he either changes his behavior or loses international legitimacy. Sharon plans to ask the Americans to avoid all contact with the Palestinian leadership, but has not yet decided whether to ask that they also close the PLO's offices in the U.S. and add the Tanzim and Force 17 to their list of terrorist organizations.
The American demands of Arafat, which were delivered by special envoy Anthony Zinni during his last visit, relate to two issues. The first is the arms ship Karine A, which Israel intercepted smuggling weapons from Iran to the PA. The U.S. is insisting that Arafat arrest the smuggling attempt's three principal organizers, sever the PA's ties with Iran and Hezbollah, pledge not to buy any more arms and thoroughly investigate the affair. The second set of demands relates to terrorism. These include the arrest of the 33 men whose names Israel gave the PA, the dismantlement of Hamas and Islamic Jihad's infrastructure, and an end of fund transfers from the PA to these organizations.
The U.S. is also demanding a monitoring mechanism for PA prisons that would permit it to determine whether terrorists whom Arafat claims to have arrested actually remain in jail. The administration has become convinced that most such arrests are temporary, and has publicly criticized what it terms Arafat's "revolving door" policy.
However, it has not specified what kind of mechanism it wants. Various ideas have been proposed, ranging from European monitors to transferring the arrested men to another country.
Sources in Washington said that if Arafat does not comply with these demands, the administration is likely to carry out its threat to add the Tanzim militias and Arafat's presidential guard, Force 17, to its list of terrorist organizations. That would mean Arafat could not even pay his guards' salaries without arousing the administration's ire.
Sources in Washington say that Powell and the State Department would like to see more flexibility toward Arafat, and some senior administration officials have said they doubt the current approach can end the violence. But the hard-line approach promoted by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney currently has the upper hand.
However, the U.S. has asked Sharon to come to Washington with "creative ideas" for easing the distress of ordinary Palestinians, which would include lifting closures and assisting economic development. It has also asked Israel to refrain from house demolitions and from escalating the violence.
The U.S. National Security Council has not yet finished its strategic review of American relations with the PA, and does not plan to do so until Israel completes its own planned strategic review on the subject. Sharon, however, has so far repeatedly postponed Israel's review.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Planning Minister Nabil Sha'ath urged Britain yesterday to pressure Israel to end targeted killings and military incursions into the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Speaking to reporters before talks with Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Sha'ath also repeated Palestinian calls for Britain and its European Union allies to take a more assertive role in the Middle East to counter what Arabs see as Washington's pro-Israeli stance.
Sha'ath said he would also press Straw to back a French call for the proclamation of a Palestinian state accompanied by new Palestinian elections.