U.S. mulls sending CIA's Tenet here to push road map
The American administration may send CIA chief George Tenet to the region to help formulate security arrangements between Israel and the Palestinians. Tenet has more experience than any other top American official in mediating between Israel and the Palestinians.
The American administration may send CIA chief George Tenet to the region to help formulate security arrangements between Israel and the Palestinians.
Tenet has more experience than any other top American official in mediating between Israel and the Palestinians. Two years ago, he formulated the security plan for a cease-fire that has become the basis for all subsequent peace plans. However, due to the failure in carrying out the plan till now, Tenet has avoided the Israeli-Palestinian issue this past year. Tenet's last visit to Israel at the beginning of March focused on preparations for the Iraq war.
According to reports reaching Jerusalem, the proposal to send Tenet on another regional mission was raised in recent internal discussions by the administration, but no decisions have yet to be made.
Apparently, Tenet is willing to make a visit to the region only if he is convinced the Israelis and Palestinians seriously intend to implement the road map.
Head of the Israeli military intelligence, Major General Aharon Zeevi, went to Washington yesterday to present Israeli intelligence assessments of the Palestinian Authority's intentions and capability to fight Hamas and other terrorist organizations. Farkash met senior officials in the American intelligence community and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. His mission took place just one week after a White House visit by Shin Bet head Avi Dichter.
Israel and the PA yesterday continued talks on transfering security responsibility in the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians. Major General Amos Gilad, the coordinator of operations in the territories, met the PA Security Affairs Minister Mohammed Dahlan. The two have yet to reach an agreement, but Israeli sources reported "a more positive atmosphere" than at previous meetings between the two.
Controversy over transfering security responsibility of Gaza's central route has yet to be resolved, even though the two sides have discussed various solutions. According to Israel, the Palestinian government is close to reaching an agreement with Hamas to stop terrorist attacks, which would pave the way to take over security from the Israel Defense Forces in Gaza.
A similar assessment was made yesterday by the European Union's envoy to the peace process, Miguel Moratinos, after his meeting with Dahlan in Gaza. At a press conference ending his seven-year mission in the region, Moratinos said that "good results" are expected in the next few days in talks among Palestinian groups about the hudna and between Israel and the Palestinians.
Moratinos said he is pleased with the resumption of cooperation between the United States and its Quartet partners. The Quartet's envoys in the region will meet special American envoy John Wolf, who is supervising implementation of the peace plan, for the first time today. Diplomatic activity will be stepped up toward the weekend in anticipation of an agreement over an Israeli withdrawal from the PA territories in the Gaza Strip and Bethlehem, which will herald the beginning of implementation of the road map. Undersecretary of State for the Middle East William Burns is to arrive in Israel tomorrow, and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice will arrive Saturday evening.
The administration will demand that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon continue evacuating illegal West Bank outposts. U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer said yesterday that pictures of the evacuation of Mizpeh Yitzhar made it clear how hard it will be to keep the road map commitments.
Kurtzer said implementing the road map "will not be easy, despite the support of the U.S. and the parties themselves." He said the Palestinian leadership is weak, and that Yasser Arafat is still trying to demonstrate leadership.