Skip to comments.Rice sees 'moment of opportunity'
Posted on 10/17/2007 1:12:17 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
JERUSALEM - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday that Israelis and Palestinians have a new "moment of opportunity" to forge peace despite the eruption of fresh tensions between the two sides over preparations for a U.S.-hosted Mideast conference.
Even as President Bush said he was optimistic about the conference and the creation of a Palestinian state, Rice faced growing difficulties in her efforts to organize the meeting set for November or December to launch formal Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Rice cautioned the going would be tough as she wrapped up four days of intense shuttle diplomacy during which she met twice with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to bridge wide gaps over a declaration the conference is to endorse.
"I do think it is moment of opportunity, but there is very hard work ahead," Rice told reporters at a news conference with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who's leading the Israeli negotiating team.
Underscoring the challenges, the Palestinians accused Israel of not being serious enough and Abbas said Israeli actions, including West Bank military raids, were damaging the pre-conference atmosphere.
Israel is "hindering the endeavor to reach a document with substance," Abbas said after seeing Rice at his office in Ramallah, stressing little time is left for the meeting. "We must not waste time."
The Israelis and Palestinians have vastly different expectations for the conference, where they are to present a document that would start negotiations to create a Palestinian state. The Palestinians want a detailed document. The Israelis favor a general agreement.
A senior Palestinian official said Abbas was disappointed by U.S. suggestions that he significantly scale back their demands for the joint statement to address Israeli concerns.
The Palestinians want the document to include at least a sentence or two on how to solve each of the issues of dispute, such as borders and Jerusalem, the Palestinians have maintained.
The Palestinians' core demand is that the future border between Israel and Palestine be based on the pre-1967 Mideast War lines, with modifications through land swaps. Israel captured the West Bank and other areas in the 1967 war.
Rice asked Abbas whether he could accept a more vaguely worded statement, which would not mention the 1967 lines, said the Palestinian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the meeting with reporters.
She also asked whether the Palestinians were willing to drop a mention of Palestinian refugees, another key issue for the Palestinians, from the document, the official said.
Rice did not address the Palestinian complaints, but Livni appeared annoyed when asked about them and said she would not stoop to "play the blame game" or divulge sensitive information about negotiations over the document.
Livni did not address the issue of the 1967 borders but warned that excessive expectations that Palestinians might have if the document is detailed could lead to "frustration and violence."
Livni also appeared to suggest that the matter of Palestinian refugees could be resolved by them returning to the future Palestine, a position that has infuriated the Palestinian side in the past.
But she also reiterated Israel's commitment to a two-state solution and said the Jewish state would make difficult compromises if the Palestinians would, too. She said her negotiating team would have a second meeting with their Palestinian counterparts this week.
While Rice was engaged in tough diplomacy on the ground, Bush told reporters in Washington that he was pleased with his top diplomat's progress and promised a staunch U.S. effort to make the conference a success.
"The reason why there needs to be a vision of what a state could look like is because the Palestinians that have been made promises all these years need to see there's a serious, focused effort to step up a state," Bush said.
He also said he is seeking an Arab "buy-in" for a peace deal, something Rice is also pressing for on her mission. She met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Tuesday in Cairo and will see Jordan's King Abdullah II in London on Thursday.
Arab countries, notably U.S. allies Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, have been reluctant to commit to attending the conference unless there are guarantees that it will yield firm results.
But Rice appeared to have won Egypt's backing. After her talks in Cairo, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit endorsed the conference publicly less than 24 hours after suggesting it be postponed.
On Wednesday, ahead of Rice's meeting with King Abdullah, a senior Jordanian official echoed the initial Egyptian sentiments, saying the conference should be delayed if more time is deemed necessary.
Rice started her day with an emotional visit to Jesus' traditional birthplace in the West Bank town of Bethlehem. The daughter and granddaughter of Presbyterian ministers, she lit a candle in the grotto and paused for prayer.
"Being here at the birthplace of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, has been a very special and moving experience," she said at the Church of the Nativity. "It is also, I think, a personal reminder that the Prince of Peace is still with us."
In Bethlehem, Rice saw Israel's contentious West Bank separation barrier, which lines the town on two sides.
Israel started building the West Bank barrier in 2002 as a defense against Palestinian attackers who have killed hundreds of Israelis in recent years. Palestinians say the barrier's meandering route cuts off large chunks of land they want for a future state.
Rice said she understood why Israel would need a barrier but that she hoped it would not be necessary in the future.
"Let's be real. There is a security problem," she said. "I look forward to a day when security is brought about in a different way, which is two states living side by side."
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, center, is seen during her visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2007. Rice, a devout Christian, visited Jesus' traditional birthplace Wednesday in a symbolic bid to urge Israel and the Palestinians to move quickly to resume formal peace negotiations. Rice has been meeting with Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian leaders this week as part of preparations for a U.S.-hosted peace conference in November or December. (AP Photo/Oleg Popov, pool)
I suppose she’s only following instructions, but am I the only one to have been greatly disappointed in Condee Rice for the past three years or so?
I haven’t said so before, because I feel badly about it.
The only side with opportunity are the Palestinians...seems Israel is once again, sacrificing for peace.
Yawn. And this plan will succeed when every other one has failed? And I’ll be seeing pigs fly when it happens.
“Israelis and Palestinians have a new “moment of opportunity” to forge peace”
Rhetoric which I hope no one seriously believes. The only ‘moment of opportunity’ the Palestinians are looking for is a chance to kill every Jew in Israel. That’s the truth that any lasting peace must first address.
Condi doesn’t call the plays. Her boss does.
A false peace will develop in the not to distant future...
The evaah so brilliant Condi, just another fool on a fool’s errand...
Hate to say so but the best result will not be peace and certainly not be more land given up to Islamist terrorist!
Where is the Condi for Prez crowd now?
I was very disappointed with her NK handling, then she followed up with more inanity in the ME.
Bush's orders or not, she's more than smart enough to know better.
She should resign, instead of supporting policies that not only create more terrorism in the world, but encourage it, imho.
“Israelis and Palestinians have a new “moment of opportunity”
I guess that she means that the Palestinians have momentarily run out of ammunition and it’s quiet enough to talk right now as they wait for fellow terrorists to replenish their supplies.
Warning! This is a high-volume ping list.
If Condi Rice were a follower of the Christ
and read and understood the Holy Word of Elohim,
she would understand there will be no peace
in G-d's Holy Land until Yah'shua returns.
That will only occur when the Israeli nation
cry out for their salvation by calling on his name:
Yah'shua ( YHvH is become my salvation )
I have an idea for Condi, actually its her idea. Lets play Road Map!
Start with Phase I, which was to be completed by December, 2003. Israel was in compliance with most of it at that time. Settlement expansion would be the only problem today. Four years later the palestinians havent done a thing.
1. Both at the commencement of and during the process, and as a condition to its continuance. Calm will be maintained. The Palestinians will dismantle the existing security organizations and implement security reforms during the course of which new organizations will be formed and act to combat terror, violence and incitement (incitement must cease immediately and the Palestinian Authority must educate for peace). These organizations will engage in genuine prevention of terror and violence through arrests, interrogations, prevention and the enforcement of the legal groundwork for investigations, prosecution and punishment. In the first phase of the plan and as a condition for progress to the second phase, the Palestinians will complete the dismantling of terrorist organizations (Hamas. Islamic Jihad. the Popular Front, the Democratic Front Al-Aqsa Brigades and other apparatuses) and their infrastructure, collection of all illegal weapons and their transfer to a third party for the sake of being removed from the area and destroyed., cessation of weapons smuggling and weapons production inside the Palestinian Authority, activation of the full prevention apparatus and cessation of incitement. There will be no progress to the second phase without the fulfillment of all above-mentioned conditions relating to the war against terror. The security plans to be implemented are the Tenet and Zinni plans. [As in the other mutual frameworks. the Roadmap will not state that Israel must cease violence and incitement against the Palestinians].
2. Full performance will be a condition for progress between phases and for progress within phases. The first condition for progress will be the complete cessation of terror, violence and incitement. Progress between phases will come only following the full implementation of the preceding phase. Attention will be paid not to timelines, but to performance benchmarks (timelines will serve only as reference points).
Phase I: Ending Terror And Violence, Normalizing Palestinian Life, and Building Palestinian Institutions -- Present to May 2003
In Phase I, the Palestinians immediately undertake an unconditional cessation of violence according to the steps outlined below; such action should be accompanied by supportive measures undertaken by Israel. Palestinians and Israelis resume security cooperation based on the Tenet work plan to end violence, terrorism, and incitement through restructured and effective Palestinian security services. Palestinians undertake comprehensive political reform in preparation for statehood, including drafting a Palestinian constitution, and free, fair and open elections upon the basis of those measures. Israel takes all necessary steps to help normalize Palestinian life. Israel withdraws from Palestinian areas occupied from September 28, 2000 and the two sides restore the status quo that existed at that time, as security performance and cooperation progress. Israel also freezes all settlement activity, consistent with the Mitchell report.
At the outset of Phase I:
+Palestinian leadership issues unequivocal statement reiterating Israels right to exist in peace and security and calling for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire to end armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere. All official Palestinian institutions end incitement against Israel. +Israeli leadership issues unequivocal statement affirming its commitment to the two-state vision of an independent, viable, sovereign Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside Israel, as expressed by President Bush, and calling for an immediate end to violence against Palestinians everywhere. All official Israeli institutions end incitement against Palestinians.
+Palestinians declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere.
+Rebuilt and refocused Palestinian Authority security apparatus begins sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. This includes commencing confiscation of illegal weapons and consolidation of security authority, free of association with terror and corruption.
+GOI takes no actions undermining trust, including deportations, attacks on civilians; confiscation and/or demolition of Palestinian homes and property, as a punitive measure or to facilitate Israeli construction; destruction of Palestinian institutions and infrastructure; and other measures specified in the Tenet work plan.
+Relying on existing mechanisms and on-the-ground resources, Quartet representatives begin informal monitoring and consult with the parties on establishment of a formal monitoring mechanism and its implementation. +Implementation, as previously agreed, of U.S. rebuilding, training and resumed security cooperation plan in collaboration with outside oversight board (U.S.EgyptJordan). Quartet support for efforts to achieve a lasting, comprehensive cease-fire.
-All Palestinian security organizations are consolidated into three services reporting to an empowered Interior Minister.
-Restructured/retrained Palestinian security forces and IDF counterparts progressively resume security cooperation and other undertakings in implementation of the Tenet work plan, including regular senior-level meetings, with the participation of U.S. security officials.
+Arab states cut off public and private funding and all other forms of support for groups supporting and engaging in violence and terror.
+All donors providing budgetary support for the Palestinians channel these funds through the Palestinian Ministry of Finance's Single Treasury Account.
+As comprehensive security performance moves forward, IDF withdraws progressively from areas occupied since September 28, 2000 and the two sides restore the status quo that existed prior to September 28, 2000. Palestinian security forces redeploy to areas vacated by IDF.
+Immediate action on credible process to produce draft constitution for Palestinian statehood. As rapidly as possible, constitutional committee circulates draft Palestinian constitution, based on strong parliamentary democracy and cabinet with empowered prime minister, for public comment/debate. Constitutional committee proposes draft document for submission after elections for approval by appropriate Palestinian institutions.
+Appointment of interim prime minister or cabinet with empowered executive authority/decision-making body.
+GOI fully facilitates travel of Palestinian officials for PLC and Cabinet sessions, internationally supervised security retraining, electoral and other reform activity, and other supportive measures related to the reform efforts.
+Continued appointment of Palestinian ministers empowered to undertake fundamental reform. Completion of further steps to achieve genuine separation of powers, including any necessary Palestinian legal reforms for this purpose.
+Establishment of independent Palestinian election commission. PLC reviews and revises election law.
+Palestinian performance on judicial, administrative, and economic benchmarks, as established by the International Task Force on Palestinian Reform.
+As early as possible, and based upon the above measures and in the context of open debate and transparent candidate selection/electoral campaign based on a free, multi-party process, Palestinians hold free, open, and fair elections.
+GOI facilitates Task Force election assistance, registration of voters, movement of candidates and voting officials. Support for NGOs involved in the election process.
+GOI reopens Palestinian Chamber of Commerce and other closed Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem based on a commitment that these institutions operate strictly in accordance with prior agreements between the parties.
+Israel takes measures to improve the humanitarian situation. Israel and Palestinians implement in full all recommendations of the Bertini report to improve humanitarian conditions, lifting curfews and easing restrictions on movement of persons and goods, and allowing full, safe, and unfettered access of international and humanitarian personnel.
+AHLC reviews the humanitarian situation and prospects for economic development in the West Bank and Gaza and launches a major donor assistance effort, including to the reform effort.
+GOI and PA continue revenue clearance process and transfer of funds, including arrears, in accordance with agreed, transparent monitoring mechanism.
+Continued donor support, including increased funding through PVOs/NGOs, for people to people programs, private sector development and civil society initiatives.
+GOI immediately dismantles settlement outposts erected since March 2001. +Consistent with the Mitchell Report, GOI freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements).
Who decides when these "conferences" need to be held? Why now? There seems to be an accelerated push for this "Palestinian" state.
You’re not the only one. I guess it bears remembering that Secretary Rice’s college mentor was Madeleine Albright’s father. Then there’s just congenital Foggy Bottom Syndrome, which appears to invade the brain of even the most competent-seeming Secretaries of State and force them to engage in futile negotiations with the Palestinians. It’s like the merry-go-round from hell.