U.S. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice told a correspondent for Abu Dhabi TV today (Monday, Feb. 7) that she hopes
Israelis and Palestinians will put "everything on the table" at their summit with
Egypt and Jordan on Tuesday rather than one side or the other seeking to have only its concerns discussed.
"Both sides seem to understand that it is a time to try to make progress," Rice told correspondent Shireen Younes during an interview in Jerusalem. "Of course the security issues are critical, not just for Israelis but for Palestinians too. A better security environment will make it possible for Israelis to withdraw from Palestinian cities, it will make it possible for the Palestinians to resume a more normal life in terms of commerce, in terms of the freedom of movement, and a better security environment will, of course, then allow further progress toward the others goals of the parties.
"So, security environment is very important. So too are the issues that the Palestinians will bring about checkpoints and freedom of movement, about the route of the fence, but these are all related, and so... it is a good thing that both parties bring their concerns so that they can be addressed at this summit."
The Secretary of State was interviewed prior to her meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas whom, she
said, she planned to tell that the U.S. expected to find other countries to donate to the Palestinian Authority in addition to the $350 million in aid already pledged by the United States.
"We will also be working with others in the Quartet, in the EU
in the World Bank to try and promote re-construction and development and assistance," Rice said. "The Palestinian people deserve a better life than they have had. I think you are seeing the international community rally around the Palestinian leadership. The Palestinian leadership will have to make some difficult choices, to do some hard things concerning security, but they will find very good partners in the international community, and the United States will be foremost among them."
When the reporter suggested that Israel was not showing sufficient flexibility on the prisoner release issue, Rice offered this rebuttal:
"I think that progress will be made on that issue. I would not presume to try and tell the parties which prisoners should be released, this is a very difficult situation and difficult issue. But I do think that as a part of a larger package, in which not just the Israelis but the Palestinians make difficult choices as well, that they will make progress on this very difficult issue. In the long run, the security of both Israelis and Palestinians will depend on the ability of both sides to fight terror. On the ability to have, as President Abbas has put it, one authority and one gun. So, the re-unification of the Palestinian security forces, the
reconstruction of the security forces is something else that I think the United States will be able to be helpful with the Palestinians."
Asked how the United States could help Abbas achieve a "cease fire with the opposition Islamist movements," Rice answered this way:
"The very best thing that we can say I think that the United States can say to President Abbas, is that we are working very, very hard with everyone to try and give this new Palestinian leadership a chance to make good decisions on behalf of the Palestinian people. That will include financial support. It will include political support. It will include training and security. It will include efforts with other parties to get them to be active. One thing that is very important is that the other parties in the region support this Palestinian leadership, and they can do that in two important ways. financial support: there are a number of states that have made pledges to support the Palestinians financially that have not been fulfilled. They need to be fulfilled. There is also the matter of telling those who would try and disrupt the process that is the rejectionists, the terrorists that they will get no support from states in the region, that they will get no support from the Europeans because in order to have peace, everyone will have to make difficult decisions, and that includes the Israelis, the Palestinians, the Arab neighbors, the Europeans, and the United States."