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Thursday, April 29, 2004

The Bush Letter(s)

Israel got one, so now King Abdullah (Jordan), Saudi Arabia and the Palestinians all want one too
Haaretz: Also Wednesday, the U.S. administration moved to soothe Israeli fears in the wake of reports that Washington intended to send a letter of assurance to Jordan to "balance" the letter President George W. Bush sent to Sharon detailing his commitments regarding the disengagement.

Bush provided Sharon with the document during their White House meeting two weeks ago.

Senior White House officials spoke with Israeli Ambassador to Washington Daniel Ayalon on Wednesday, to clarify that Bush does not intend to renege on the commitments he granted to Sharon, despite Jordanian and Palestinian pressure. The U.S. has informed Israel it will have to make a "corrective" move toward its European allies and the Arabs, but that it will under no circumstances renege on its promises to Sharon.

"The president's commitments to Israel, detailed in the letter to the prime minister, are valid and binding as they are written and are clear and to everyone," said a statement released by the Israeli Embassy in Washington following the meeting between Ayalon and the White House officials.

Reports that the American administration is inclined to present King Abdullah with a "balancing message" to the letter of commitment that Bush presented to Sharon have reached Jerusalem over the past few days. The monarch is due to visit Washington on May 6.

Bush is considering giving written assurances to Abdullah that the issues of settlements and the Palestinian refugees will be decided in negotiations between the two sides, the Reuters news agency reported.

The Jordanians had requested a letter of this nature in talks with American officials, but when it met with opposition, they decided that Abdullah would postpone his visit to the American capital until after Sunday's Likud vote on Sharon's disengagement plan.

Similar letters have been requested from the Americans by Saudi Arabia and the Palestinians.

Jordan's King Abdullah (L) welcomes Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed
Qurie on his arrival at the Royal Palace in Amman, April 28, 2004.
REUTERS/Yousef Allan

Jordan's King Abdullah told visiting Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia Wednesday that Israel's planned pullout from the Gaza Strip should be part of a "total Israeli withdrawal" from all Palestinian areas, said a statement from the royal court.