RAMALLAH, West Bank, April 11 (Reuters) – Palestinians voiced anger and disappointment on Monday at U.S. President George W. Bush’s affirmation that Israel should be able to keep some West Bank settlement blocs under a future peace deal. “This American position gives an unequivocal message to the Palestinians that the United States still sees itself as a partner for Israel and Israeli interests rather than an honest broker,” Hassan Abu-Libdeh, a cabinet minister, told Reuters. Bush told reporters after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the presidential ranch in Texas:

“While the United States will not prejudice the outcome of final status negotiations, those changes on the ground, including existing major Israeli population centres, must be taken into account in any final status negotiations.” Bush’s commitment, originally made to Sharon last year, broke with decades of U.S. policy and disappointed Palestinians, who said it unfairly prejudged the outcome of final status negotiations. “Legitimacy should not be given to any settlement activity or to any existing settlements,” Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil Abu -Rdainah said after Bush spoke on Monday. (MORE)


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