Rice takes diplomatic push to West Bank
Ramallah, November 5, 2007
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice takes her diplomatic mission to the West Bank where she will press Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to ease Israeli fears and do more on security.
After a day of talks with Israeli leaders, it was clear broad differences remained with the Palestinians on crafting a document to form the basis of discussions at a US-hosted peace conference planned in Annapolis, Maryland, probably later this year. No date has been announced.
Israel's leaders told Rice they could not agree on any deal unless Israel's security was assured and the top US diplomat will push this point in her meetings with Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in the occupied West Bank.
Rice will also seek to reassure Abbas that Israel will meet its own obligations under the first phase of the 2003 US "road map", that outlines reciprocal steps leading to Palestinian statehood, including a halt to expansion of Jewish settlements.
"Both parties understand that they both have obligations under phase one of the roadmap and they full well know what they are," Rice said.
The Bush administration is seeking to bolster Abbas militarily against rival Hamas, which seized control of the Gaza Strip in mid-June.
Last month the White House asked Congress for at least $410 million in additional funding in 2008 to build up Abbas's security forces and ease the financial crisis faced by his authority.