Israel braces for US, world pressure

Sunday, March 16, 2008 |  by Staff Writer

Israeli officials believe Washington is gearing up to put enormous diplomatic pressure on the Jewish state to begin implementing concessions to the Palestinians ahead of US President George W. Bush's visit to the region in May.

An American diplomatic source cited by Ha'aretz said Mr. Bush is adamant that something concrete have been achieved on the ground before he arrives.

To that end, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to return to the region next week to press Israel to take steps that prove it is committed to a two-state solution, such as the forcible removal of small Jewish communities set in Judea and Samaria up without official government authorization.

Israeli leaders insist they cannot make significant progress toward implementing their commitments until the Palestinians halt their anti-Israel violence and media incitement.

However, there was no indication from the US officials that the Palestinian Authority will come under similar pressure to meet its decade-old unfulfilled obligations.

In the coming week Israel will also host German Chancellor Angela Merkel along with eight German ministers, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, US Vice President Dick Cheney and US Republican presidential candidate John McCain, all of whom are expected to likewise press Israel to move forward with implementation of its commitments while refraining from intensifying its war on Palestinian terror.

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