After the pomp and ceremony of Jerusalem, US President George W. Bush will face a delicate balancing act later today when he continues his three day peace initiative in the West Bank. Palestinian officials said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is likely to renew complaints to Bush about Jewish settlement growth and also demand an easing of Israeli military roadblocks in the West Bank.
While urging both sides to make concessions, Bush has reserved some of his toughest language for the Palestinian leader, saying he must do more to stop militant rocket attacks.
Experts say Abbas is hoping Bush’s visit will boost his own standing among Palestinians, who, while desperate to have their dream of an independent state fulfilled, remain sceptical.
Analysts say the biggest question is how Abbas can extend his authority to Gaza and make good on any peace promises. The coastal strip has been controlled by Hamas militants since last June. Hamas, which refuses to acknowledge that Israel exists, has been left out of the diplomatic loop.