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