I think it's way too early for the President to bring any palestinian leader to Washington. The pals have done little to even make it appear as if they might live up to their obligations of the Road Map that were supposed to have been completed almost 2 months ago.
The question, for me, is how will the President handle it? Will he prop up Abu Mazen by forcing the Israelis to concede even more than they already have? Or, will he get tough with the palestinians and tell them they get nothing more until they demonstrate good faith?
I fear the former is how it will play out. The palestinians have already taken an Israeli gesture of goodwill and are complaining it doesn’t go far enough. Even though prisoner release is not mentioned in the text of the Road Map, the Arabs are now acting as though it is a prerequisite to further action. Arafat is even using the West’s infatuation with his Abu Mazen puppet to make it more likely they’ll get more criminals released from jail. More criminals on the street is just the prescription for peace that Gaza needs.
Yasser Arafat gave his blessing for the trip. That was necessary because after he became prime minister Abbas was asked when he would go on state
missions overseas, and he said it was unreasonable to expect him to travel the world while Arafat is imprisoned in his office. Arafat's blessings were accompanied by
a veiled warning: "This is a decisive test of the American position," said Arafat's aide,
Ahmed Abdul Rahman, and the intention was clear - we'll see what Abu Mazen can get out of the Americans.
One PLC member, Hatem Abdul Kadr of Jerusalem, said it even more bluntly. "If Abu Mazen doesn't bring about an Israeli withdrawal (meaning a lifting of the checkpoints), and freedom for the prisoners, then he won't last and will have to resign."
This will also be the message Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas will deliver to US President George Bush in their meeting at the White House on Friday, he added.
"The fence will kill everything it will destroy hope of the Palestinians...Israel should immediately stop building it", he said.
According to Qurei who will travel with Abbas to Washington, the fence will be one of the main issues on the agenda, and Palestinians expect to get US backing on that issue.
The Arabs are sounding like Navin R. Johnson, "All I need is some prisoners released. That's all I need. That and the fence, all I need is for all the prisoners to be released and for the fence to come down. That's all I need, that and the checkpoints, all I need is for the fence to come down and all our prisoners to be released and the checkpoints to disappear. That's all I need........."