Jerusalem – The U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice found it difficult Tuesday to conceal her disappointment, upon the conclusion of her fourth trip to the region.  Instead of a dramatic press conference, in which she was supposed to declare the launching of negotiations over the final status arrangement, Rice convened a pale press conference with many high-flown words and an effort to demonstrate optimism, but with very few tidings.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and PA Chairman Abu Mazen have agreed to hold a meeting every two weeks, in which they will focus on confidence building measures such as halting the Kassam rocket fire, stopping the arms smuggling and easing the movement of the Palestinians and the border crossings.  Rice said: I will meet with them in parallel, once separately and once together-in order to accelerate the process.  

She added that there are still discussions to be held before the negotiations on the final status arrangement in order to build confidence between the parties.

After failing in her efforts to persuade the Israeli government to agree to negotiations on the final status arrangement, Rice was forced to settle, as she put it, for a discussion on creating a political horizon and the aspiration to establish a Palestinian state in accordance with the road map.  In conjunction, Rice called upon the Arab states to present Israel with a political horizon, in order to assure it that upon the end of the conflict, its place in the Middle East would be safer.  Rice said that there were no political implications to the postponement of her press conference, and rejected the allegation that no progress had been made in her last visit.  She said that the peacemaking work had become more complicated now, due to the nature of the Palestinian unity government and due to Hamas’ refusal to accept the conditions of the Quartet

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Tuesday night that negotiations on the final status arrangement are not possible in the current situation.

David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com.

©The Bulletin 2007

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.

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