Abbas to push Bush on settlements


Palestinians will ask President Bush to curb Israel’s settlement activities, Mahmoud Abbas said.

The Palestinian Authority president said Monday that a halt to Israeli building in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, and their eventual evacuation, were vital for progress in the peace process, and that he would make this point to Bush when he visits the region Jan. 9-11.

“President Bush comes for the sake of pushing forward the peace process,” Abbas told reporters in Bethlehem.

“We would like for him first to ask the Israelis to stop the settlement building and then to push the peace process forward, reaffirming the need to end the occupation that happened in 1967,” he said, adding that Palestinians want a state alongside the Jewish state with Jerusalem as a shared capital.

Bush said last week that in his talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, he would raise the need to freeze settlement expansion and scrap illegal settler outposts in accordance with the 2003 U.S.-led peace “road map.”

But there has been no indication that Washington expects further Israeli moves before the Palestinians satisfy their own road map requirement of disarming and dismantling terrorist groups like Hamas.



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