U.S., Egyptian envoys to prepare for Sharon-Abbas summit

Several Egyptian and U.S. officials are expected to visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority over the next few days in an effort to ensure the success of next week’s meeting between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. According to Palestinian sources, Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and Foreign Minister Ahmed Abdul Gheit will visit the PA and Israel this week to try to reach an agreement with Jerusalem on future arrangements for the Philadelphi route following the pullout from the Gaza Strip. The Egyptian officials will also be seeking to strengthen the understandings between the PA and the Palestinian opposition groups with regard to the cease-fire, which has been undermined in recent weeks. During recent weeks, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been demanding a reevaluation of the security calm following Abbas’ decision to postpone Palestinian elections to an unnamed date. U.S. envoys Elliot Abrams and David Welch are also expected in Israel and the PA, starting from Tuesday. The two will be preparing the ground for U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s visit to the region on the weekend. Abbas met Monday in Ramallah with U.S. security envoy General William Ward for further discussions on coordinating the Gaza withdrawal with Israel. BPI-info