Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in a "town hall" forum with her employees, said she doubts Middle East peace is possible
"without a Palestinian state that is viable, that can represent the aspirations of the Palestinian people."
She said that President Bush's road map for peace foresaw concessions that
"Israelis were going to have to make about creating conditions in which a new Palestinian state could emerge, and, indeed, that meant that the Israelis were going to have to recognize that there was going to have to be land for -- contiguous land for this Palestinian state to exist on. And he
(President Bush) talked about the responsibility of Arab states to end incitement and to support the peace process and for all of us to recognize that peace and security and democracy and an end to terror all go together."
Preparing to leave Feb. 3 on a week-long trip to Europe and the Middle East, Rice said: "The good thing about the last couple of months has been that I think you're starting to see the parties make good, fundamental choices. And as they make those good, fundamental choices, it opens up the possibility of getting back on the roadmap toward a two-state solution."
Concerning her trip, she said, "We're going to be working with the parties, now that they've begun to make those fundamental choices, to push forward toward the date when we have a two-state solution. And I think it's in our grasp, although it's still something that has to be worked toward vigilantly."
Rice was asked the question about Israel and the Palestinian territories by Charlie Hale, who identified himself as a brand new
State Department employee with about threee hours tenure prior to the town hall
"Oh, good for you," responded Rice. "You're even newer than I am. That's great."
At a briefing for the media, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Rice would fly from
Ankara, Turkey, to Tel Aviv, Israel, on February 6, spend the night in Jerusalem, and would meet with Israeli officials and with Palestinians on the West Bank, before flying
on Feb 7 to Rome. (See previous