Washington, Asharq Al-Awsat- While the US administration is seeking to make Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas’s visit to Washington an opportunity for discussing the launch of direct negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis, the focus has become centered on Gaza and a new policy for dealing with the situation there.
A White House official told Asharq al-Awsat that Abbas’s visit, which started yesterday, will be an opportunity for discussing “new long-term strategies concerning Gaza.” The US administration is looking forward to hearing new ideas from Abbas during his meeting with US President Barack Obama today about this strategy, foremost of which is the issue of the roadblocks and easing the blockade imposed on Gaza since 2007.
There is a consensus in Washington that a long-term strategy for Gaza depends on Palestinian reconciliation and putting the Palestinian house in order. The US official, who asked to remain unidentified, said “the United States backs a Palestinian reconciliation but the terms (for it) are important.” He explained: “Only a Palestinian government which accepts the PLO’s obligations, that is, renounces violence, accepts previous agreements, and recognizes Israel’s right to exist, can achieve the legitimate Palestinian aspirations for independence and building the state.” The US administration will inform Abbas that these terms are essential “conditions for achieving peace in the Middle East.” The official added that the United States “stands strongly behind the international consensus that all the parties, including Hamas, must accept these principles so as to have a role in the negotiations.”
Obama will discuss with Abbas the possibility of drawing up a strategy for Gaza as the United States is meanwhile consulting with its allies in the EU in addition to the UN about the next steps it will take. No clear strategy has crystallized yet while Washington is consulting bilaterally with its allies in the region and EU about the possible steps which might include new measures at the crossing points to Gaza.