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Saturday, 18 September 2004
Man of Peace folds up Road Map

But don't tell the Bush administration.

JERUSALEM, Sept. 15 -

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has acknowledged that Israel is not following the moribund Middle East peace plan, and has said an Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip is unlikely to revive it, a newspaper interview published Wednesday said.

Mr. Sharon spoke on one of the deadliest days of the past year in the West Bank as Israeli troops killed nine Palestinian militants in two raids on hide-outs. An 11-year-old Palestinian girl was fatally shot in one of the clashes, Palestinians said.

It could very well be that after the evacuation, there will be a very long period in which nothing else will happen," he said. After the Gaza withdrawal, "Israel will continue its war on terrorism and will stay in the territories that will remain," he said, referring to the West Bank.

He later added: "Today, we are also not following the road map. I am not ready for this.'' Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said his comments "validate our fears."

"Mr. Sharon is saying that the Gaza disengagement is not part of the road map, it is an alternative," Mr. Erekat said. "We can only hope this will be an eye-opener for the American administration."

McClellan interprets it differently, eyes wide shut.

Press Briefing Sept. 16.

Q Scott, Prime Minister Sharon says Israel is not following the road map and may stay in the West Bank long after the Gaza pullout. Has he communicated this to you?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I saw a media report to that effect, and I don't think that accurately reflected what he was saying. Prime Minister Sharon has reaffirmed his commitment to moving forward on his bold proposal to move out of the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank. That is a proposal that can help get us jump-started again on the road map, which is the path toward the President's two-state solution. And so that -- I think that is what the Prime Minister is talking about, is moving forward on his disengagement plan.

Q Have you had any communications with him about this?

MR. McCLELLAN: We stay in regular contact with Israel. I don't know that we've had conversations specifically about this article you're referring to, but I didn't read it the same way you did. {We all read English, I dunno...]

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:31 PM EDT
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