Rice – does she know what she's doing?

Here below is the U.S. State Department transcript of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s remarks to journalists travelling with her from Israel to London, where she was due to meet Jordan’s King Abdallah II.

Major questions that come immediately to mind:

(1) Since when is this the beginning of the process?

(2) What exactly does she mean when she says that phase one roadmap obligations must be carried out now, IN ADVANCE of any meeting?

(3) Does she really believe the explanation given to her by Israeli officials about the land from four Palestinian villages that is being confiscated between East Jerusalem and the huge Maale Adumim settlement in the West Bank to build a bypass road for Palestinian use — that this is being done from a good motive, that is, to help increase Palestinian mobility?

(4) Why has she so completely swallowed the Israeli position that the document the Israeli and Palestinians are supposed to be negotiating will only be a statement of intent — and will not be specific on the issues?

(5) Why has she backed off from her firmness about it now being the time to move toward a Palestinian state? And why is she saying so many “ifs” – as in, “If Israel is going to be asked to withdraw from the West Bank at some point in time” … “If a Palestinian state is ever going to come into being”?

(6) Is this coherent?
SECRETARY RICE: This trip was important to get a sense of where the parties are, to have a chance to see what needs to be done to help them achieve what they’re trying to achieve. Obviously, this is the beginning of a process and it’s the most serious process that they’ve had in some time. And so I talked not only about the document but also about how they could, in advance of any meeting that would take place, enhance confidence that they are indeed moving to a new set of conditions. And that means carrying out phase one roadmap obligations. It means confidence-building measures that might be taken. So we spent a great deal of time, a good deal of time, on that issue as well. And so they’re going to have several meetings now between the
negotiating teams. I spent a long time with Foreign Minister Livni. And I think they’re very serious. The teams are serious, the people are serious, the issues are serious. And so I’m not surprised that there are some tensions. I’m not surprised that there are some ups and downs. That’s the character of this kind of endeavor. But I was encouraged by what I heard.

QUESTION: Speaking about confidence measures, did the Israeli commit to stop (inaudible) you know, the Palestinian land between the Ma’aleh Adumim (inaudible)?
SECRETARY RICE: You mean concerning this road that was —


SECRETARY RICE: They say that there’s no action that’s imminent in any case. And I simply emphasized that one wants to be very careful about anything, even if the intentions are to increase mobility for Palestinians, which was the explanation given for why this road was necessary. This is just a time to avoid anything that might look like you’re trying to unilaterally determine the — or prejudge final status outcomes.

QUESTION: They didn’t commit? They didn’t commit?

SECRETARY RICE: They have made clear that nothing is imminent.

QUESTION: When you say you were encouraged by what you heard, does that — encouraged in the sense that you think that they will be able to produce this document at some point? Encouraged that you think that they will be able to do it in time to — you know, for late November (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: I think the – when I said I was encouraged I didn’t mean specifically about the document, although I think that they are going to work seriously on that. What I was encouraged by is the degree to which now what seemed a very distant proposition some time ago, which is that they were about to engage in a very serious process to try to move forward towards a resolution of their outstanding issues and make an effort at ending their conflict, that
you heard that kind of language from both sides. And that’s encouraging, given all that we’ve been through in this last year.

QUESTION: Where are we on the document? I mean, are there drafts of the document? Are there competing drafts? Have we proposed the language?

SECRETARY RICE: They’re meeting. And I think they’re going to have discussions back and forth about key issues, outstanding issues. And I don’t really know when they will write everything down. They want to have discussions first between the delegtions. And — I want to just say something about this document. This document is not trying to resolve the outstanding issues between Israelis and Palestinians. It couldn’t completely do that in seven weeks, eight weeks, nine weeks. It couldn’t conceivably do that. So all this document is trying to do is to demonstrate that they are now — believe that they have a basis for pushing forward on the resolution of those outstanding issues. And so while the document is important as a signal of intent, I think that the idea that somehow it’s going to have to be, as I said to you the other night, very specific on each of the issues, that that’s not what they’re looking for. And at one level, the more that they are pointed toward the day after November or December the better.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) describe your role in all of this? I mean, did you –were you bringing proposals, language or anything? How different from previous efforts —

SECRETARY RICE: I talked through with them a lot of the issues that are there, getting a good sense of where everybody stands, where everybody is going to stand now, where they might be moving in the future. But I really did spend a lot of time on the confidence-building measures and the phase one obligations. I spent a lot of time on security issues, not on-the-ground today security issues, but how would you envision the security of two states living
side by side, because they’re going to have to come up with a security concept between them. It’s one of the problems that we’re dealing with, frankly, in the Israeli population. And I heard it not just from the Israeli officials but from a broad range of Israelis. They had the withdrawal from Lebanon and it brought instability in Lebanon. They had the withdrawal from the Gaza, and look what happened in Gaza.

If, in fact, they’re going to be asked to withdraw from the West Bank at some point, what does that mean for the security of Israel? That’s a fair question. It really is. And so one of the things that I take back is that we are going to need to spend a lot of time thinking about how this state, if we are fortunate enough to be able to bring it into being, how it is going to relate to the security of its neighbor and vice versa.

We also spent a lot of time — we didn’t spend as much time as I would like, but I did spend some time — with business people and the like. What is going to be the economic foundation for this state and relations between the states? You know, for years Palestinians worked in Israel and that essentially went away with the second intifada. Is there a way that you can create jobs for
Palestinians by bringing capital of the whole region, but including even the Israeli capital, to the Palestinian — the new Palestinian state so that people can work in their own state?

So I know we get very focused on, you know, what will be said about borders, what will be said about Jerusalem, what will be said about the refugees. In fact, a lot has been said over a long period of time about those issues and more will have to be said. But I’m also quite convinced that one of the really crucial pieces that has to be filled in are these concepts of how the states
will relate to each other in practical terms concerning security and in practical terms concerning economic issues.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) As you think about the day after and those key issues that — how important, how useful, how significant are the Clinton parameters as you think about where they go when they go into the next phase of negotiation, if they actually get to negotiations?

SECRETARY RICE: There are several efforts — there have been several efforts to articulate how these issues might be resolved. And obviously that — all of those form the background for how they might be resolved now. But we’re in a different time and a different period with different actors, particularly on the Israeli side, and so nobody would suggest, well, we’re just
starting, you know, as if nothing had happened over the last several years. But I think it would be a mistake to lock into and say, well, we’re starting from a particular point of view that was established at some other point in time.


SECRETARY RICE: Well, because times have changed and a lot has happened in these places since then. And I think it’s been a very healthy process for Palestinians, many of whom, who have been a part of every negotiation since Oslo, and Israel — Israelis, most of whom have been a part of no negotiation since Oslo, to sit and look at the whole range of issues before them. I think that’s a process that’s going to have to happen, and I think trying artificially cut that off is not a good idea.


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