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Israel and the United States are in disagreement over when the Palestinian terror organizations should be disarmed.

Contrary to the Israeli stance, the U.S. administration has accepted the position of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) that the right time to confront Hamas and its disarmament is after the Palestinian elections in January.

The U.S. believe Abu Mazen should first be allowed to deal with the chaos in the PA and the Fatah before the elections and not begin a forceful confrontation with Hamas now.

Washington believes it is of paramount importance that Abu Mazen be in a strong position before the elections, and to this end is putting pressure on Israel to make concrete concessions to the Palestinian population to assist him.

At the same time, Washington officials have stressed to Abu Mazen that he will have to ensure there is "one PA, one law and one army." But the U.S. is not yet putting pressure on him to do so.

The officials have also accepted Abu Mazen's view that it is impossible to prevent Hamas from participating in the January elections and that, therefore, it is best for Israel not to make problems.

Israel has been demanding that Abu Mazen confront Hamas now because it has created a "second authority" that is posing a threat to the PA and Abu Mazen's future. Israel is also opposed to Hamas' participation in the January elections, but because of Washington's position has said it will not interfere in the elections - but will not promise to help.

The Prime Minister's Bureau refused comment yesterday evening.