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Rice's Mideast Trip Aimed at Showing U.S. Commitment to Talks
Cat : Palestine
Date : 2006-10-02 18:24:52                      Reader : 359
 and Security Council in favor of Israel. Also Israel bombards Palestinians with US arms. So how can Rice help in two states solution, where Israel occupies 78% of Palestine, and implant colonies in half of the rest. Why US is against elected government ?
Why not bilateral recognition on 4th June, 1967 borders with return right of refugees ?!
Rice came to complicate the affair, and push Palestinians into civil war, as US did in Iraq.


Google News 2/10/2006

Rice's Mideast Trip Aimed at Showing U.S. Commitment to Talks

By Janine Zacharia

Oct. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrives in Saudi Arabia today on a mission intended to show the U.S. remains committed to an Israeli-Palestinian peace process even with little prospect of restarting talks anytime soon.

Rice has modest goals for the trip, which fulfills a commitment President George W. Bush made two weeks ago. Along with the frozen talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the agenda includes possible discussions about Lebanon, Syria and Iran, according to her spokesman.

``These meetings are more about consultations, taking stock of where we are,'' State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said last week.

European and Arab governments have been pressuring the Bush administration to re-engage in the peace process now that the focus of international diplomacy has shifted from Israel's battle against Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israel withdrew the last of its troops from Lebanon yesterday.

The conflict in Lebanon and the election of a Palestinian parliament dominated by the militant Hamas movement sidetracked negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority at the same time U.S. attention has been distracted by increasing violence in Iraq.

In a speech to the United Nations on Sept. 19, Bush promised to dispatch Rice ``to engage moderate leaders across the region'' in an effort to help the Palestinians take the steps toward restarting negotiations.

Four Stops

Rice visits Saudi Arabia today, Egypt tomorrow, and then will travel to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The top U.S. diplomat went to Israel twice this summer within a week to help broker an end to fighting between Israel and Hezbollah. She has not visited Egypt and Saudi Arabia since February, when she tried to persuade those countries to cut support for the then-newly elected Hamas-led Palestinian government.

The election of Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel or past agreements with the Jewish state, prompted the U.S. to freeze its role in peace negotiations. Bush vowed the U.S. wouldn't deal with Hamas, which the U.S. regards as a terrorist organization, unless it renounced violence and recognizes Israel. Israel's government also refuses to negotiate with Hamas.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a member of the competing Fatah Party, is exploring forming a national unity government, and Rice will be trying to determine whether that effort has any possibility for success, said Daniel Kurtzer, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel.

Palestinian Strife

Abbas's initiative is beset by internal strife between Hamas and Fatah, primarily over recognition of Israel. The differences sometimes have played out violently. At least five people were killed and 50 others injured in Gaza yesterday during clashes between Palestinian security personnel loyal to Abbas and forces attached to the Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry.

Rice also will need to spend time working on implementation of the UN Security Council resolution that halted the battle in Lebanon to ensure there is not another flare-up of violence across Israel's northern border, Kurtzer said.

At her first two stops she'll ``just need to figure out where the Saudi mindset is right now, and that of Egypt,'' he said.

`Buying Time'

Concrete progress may not be necessary. If Rice ``can stimulate a process on the Palestinian issue to put that back on track, that will calm regional tempers right now,'' Kurtzer said. ``It has very little to do with an outcome on the Israeli- Palestinian track. It's more about buying time.''

Bush was the first U.S. president to endorse a plan for Palestinian statehood. That framework, known as the road map, has been put on hold as a result of the impasse between Israel and the Palestinians.

Part of the plan was Israel's withdrawal from Palestinian territories, which was begun under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. All 8,000 Israeli settlers were removed from the Gaza Strip and a small chunk of the West Bank in August 2005.

He was set to carry out further withdrawals when he suffered a debilitating stroke in January and remains in a coma. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Sharon's successor, pledged to continue the withdrawals. The future of that plan remains in doubt following controversy in Israel over his handling of the war with Hezbollah this summer.

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