Olmert to Tell Bush Contact Between Gaza, W. Bank Must Be Prevented

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is planning to tell United States President George Bush at their meeting at the White House next Tuesday that there is an urgent need to view the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as separate entities and prevent contact between them, political sources in Jerusalem said Thursday.

According to the sources, the defense establishment is recommending a "separation policy" for the two territories, and is emphasizing the importance of "ensuring that what is happening this week in Gaza will not happen in the West Bank."

Bush and Olmert's meeting will center on Hamas' takeover of the Gaza Strip in recent days, and they will discuss whether it is possible to move the peace process forward, and in what ways.

A political source noted: "As we predicted, the Palestinian unity government has failed."

"We need to utilize all the available force in the handling of Hamas," he added.

Olmert will also raise the topic of deploying a multi-national force along the Gaza-Egypt border in his meetings with Bush and later with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. An international force would be deployed in order to curb the smuggling of arms from Egypt into the Gaza Strip, and strengthening Hamas.

Israel, however, has not yet formulated a unified stance regarding the deployment of the force, which would be commanded by the Arab League, and the security cabinet will meet on the topic when Olmert returns from the U.S.

The second issue for the meeting between the two leaders be the question of curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions.