Sharon flies to US to seek backing on Gaza

Ariel Sharon flies to Washington this week increasingly confident of securing the new accord with President George Bush that he needs to convince right-wing sceptics in his own party to back his unilateral plan to "disengage" from Gaza.

Ariel Sharon flies to Washington this week increasingly confident of securing the new accord with President George Bush that he needs to convince right-wing sceptics in his own party to back his unilateral plan to "disengage" from Gaza.

The Israeli Prime Minister, still under the shadow of deliberations by the Attorney General, Menachem Mozuz, on whether to indict him over the "Greek island" bribery allegations, holds talks with Mr Bush on Wednesday. These have become pivotal to his ability to win a referendum of 200,000 Likud members at the end of this month on the disengagement plan.

Two days before he meets Tony Blair to discuss ways to control the mounting chaos and bloodshed in Iraq, the US President will be obliged to turn his attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mr Sharon is seeking concessions in return for his planned pullout from Gaza and a handful of settlements in the northern West Bank.

Under the plan, the Israeli army would maintain a continuous presence only on the border between Gaza and Egypt. Over the next 18 months, 7,500 Israelis would leave settlements within the strip. Mr Sharon has also identified four remote settlements in the north of the West Bank, near Jenin, from which he would launch a largely symbolic evacuation.

Backing for the plan could be crucial to Mr Sharon's capacity to maintain political momentum in office over the coming year.

The Prime Minister, facing concerted opposition from his far-right coalition partners and vocal elements in his own party, including some ministers, has been seeking to persuade Washington to give guarantees on a permanent future for three of the biggest Israeli settlements, and to make it clear that there will be no right of return to Israel for Palestinian refugee families displaced since the war of 1948.

Mr Bush is unlikely to be as explicit as Mr Sharon had originally hoped. But Israeli officials hope the US will imply that the 1949-67 Green Line should not be regarded as an inviolable border in any final settlement, and that Washington accepts variations if needed for Israel's security. That could give Mr Sharon the room he needs to claim that the three big settlement blocks on the Palestinian side of the Green Line - Ma'ale Adumim, Ariel and Gush Etzion - will remain permanently in Israeli hands, to the inevitable dismay of even moderate Palestinian and other Arab leaders.

Israeli officials said this weekend that they were equally optimistic that the US would deliberately refer to Palestinian refugee families returning to a future Palestinian state. This would be seized on by Mr Sharon's government as firmly denying their right to return to Israel itself. Nabil Sha'ath, the Palestinian Foreign Minister, last week warned the US to do "nothing that will pre-empt a permanent settlement, neither on borders nor refugees or anything". Mr Sharon will press the US and its allies to tell the Palestinian Authority to clamp down on the militant factions, insisting that the disengagement will leave the PA with no excuse not to do so. Israel is also likely to seek firm assurances that the US recognises her right to resume military operations against the factions in Gaza if attacks on Israel from the strip continue.

There is also the question of money. In addition to $5bn (£2.7bn) granted to the Palestinian Authority to start rebuilding the shattered economy of Gaza, the Israelis are aiming to win American guarantees for loans worth an additional $5bn for the development of the Negev desert. This area is seen as a possible future home for more than 100,000 settlers if there is a wholesale pullout from the West Bank.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Battle of the Five Armies trailer released
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
Life and Style
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

PMO Manager (Portfolio Management, ExCel, Cost Benefit Analysis)

£450 - £500 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: PMO Manager - 6 month co...

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Functional Consultant

£50000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A Microsoft Dynamics CRM...

Senior BI Engineer (BI/MI, Data Mining)

£60000 - £65000 per annum + Bonus & Benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior BI Enginee...

Retail Promotions Manager – TV and Film Catalogue

Up to £171 PAYE per day (equal to 40 – 45K ) : Sauce Recruitment: This is a te...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on