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Rice Praises Palestinian President's Efforts To Form Government

04 October 2006

Secretary of state pledges U.S. help in diplomacy, development, security

Washington -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice assured Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas October 4 that the international community continues to support his efforts to forge a moderate government that respects the agreements and obligations to which the Palestinian Authority has committed itself.

“[B]ecause he is a leader that people respect, he is going to continue to have not just the attention of the international community, but its very intensive efforts to try to break through some of the deadlocks that have been there,” Rice told reporters after her meeting with Abbas in Ramallah.

“[A]fter the election of the Hamas government -- which we fully recognize the Palestinian people's elections as legitimate -- but after the refusal of that government to accept the international norms, the agreements that the Palestinians have accepted, the United States found a way to get humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people by reprogramming some of our assistance for the Palestinians,” she said.  “That's, in large part, because of our respect for President Abbas and what he's trying to do.”

For weeks, Abbas has been working to form a unity government with the ruling Hamas party, but Hamas officials have rebuffed his demand that they accept existing commitments of the Palestinian Authority, many of which imply at least a tacit acceptance of Israel’s right to exist. 

“[T]oday we say that any government to be formed has to be fully committed to all the commitments of the Palestinian Authority towards the Arab world and to the international community and has to honor all kinds of agreements that were signed in the past between the [Palestinian Authority] and the Arab parties,” Abbas told the reporters. “Up to this moment, there are no indications that these conditions are going to be met.”

Rice expressed the United States’ desire to help the Palestinians in several areas:

• Promoting economic development;

• Facilitating discussions between Israelis and Palestinians;

• Working with Israel to ease restrictions on Palestinians’ movements;

• Improving security in the Palestinian Territories; and

• Ending the humiliations associated with the occupation.

The Israelis and Palestinians signed an agreement on movement and access within the Palestinian Territories in November 2005. (See related article.)

Rice said that much has changed since that time but that it is still important for the Palestinian economy to be able to operate.  She said she would work with the Israelis to make the agreement “more functional.”

For additional information, see The Middle East: A Vision for the Future.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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