Skip to comments.Rice urges Israel to avoid unilateral steps on Jerusalem
Posted on 02/06/2005 12:53:43 PM PST by anotherview
Last Update: 06/02/2005 20:55
Rice urges Israel to avoid unilateral steps on J'lem
By Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondent Haaretz Staff and Agencies
Prime Miniser Ariel Sharon and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ahead of their talks in Jerusalem on Sunday. Condoleezza Rice laying a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem on Sunday.
Prime Miniser Ariel Sharon and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ahead of their talks in Jerusalem on Sunday.
Condoleezza Rice laying a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem on Sunday.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Sunday met with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and President Moshe Katsav, and urged them to maintain the status quo over Jerusalem, and avoid taking any unilateral steps on the disputed capital which could harm Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Israeli sources said Rice was referring to the government's decision from last summer to apply the absentee property law to tens of thousands of dunams (acres) of Palestinian property in East Jerusalem. Attorney General Menachem Mazuz last week instructed Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to order an immediate halt to the application of the law. The sources said Rice may also have been referring to the decision to build the separation fence in Jerusalem, and to expand Jewish neighborhoods in the city.
Rice said Sunday that the disengagement plan is an historic opportunity, and that the future security of Palestinians and Israelis will be ensured only by two states exisiting side by side.
In an interview with TV Channel 2 Rice emphasized the importance of direct contact between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, and minimum involvement of mediators such as the U.S.
When asked about the right of return for Palestinian refugees, the secretary of state said that while new demographic realities since 1967 must be taken into account, the parties must reach an agreement accommodating to the needs of them both.
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, who was the first Israeli official to meet with Rice on Sunday, told the secretary of state, "Israel will not relinquish its sovereignty over Jerusalem. The issue of Jerusalem will be left to the final status agreement, but we have to intention to harm the Palestinians."
Rice also said that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan must be implemented without delay, and carried out according to its timetable. She told Shalom that Abu Mazen [Abbas] was elected through democratic elections and he needs as much help as possible to give a firm basis to his leadership. Shalom responded that "the pain of the settlers [to be evacuated under the plan] must be understood and empathy must be shown. These people do not know where they will live or where they will work.
Rice arrived in Israel in an optimistic mood Sunday afternoon, as she prepared for talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials two days before the first official Middle East summit since the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat last November.
Her first stop was a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, where she laid a wreath inside the Hall of Remembrance.
She then met with Shalom, followed by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. She is also due to meet President Moshe Katsav later Sunday.
Ahead of their meeting, Sharon said he was sure his talks with Rice would "contribute to the friendly relations between the two countries." Sharon said he also expected her visit to contribute to the peace process, "which we want to very much want to push forward in the region."
In response, Rice said U.S.-Israel relations were solid "because we share not just interests but values." She said her goal was to "try to advance the cause of peace and to overcome the scourge of terrorism."
Before meeting Shalom, Rice said, "we will ask of our partners and our friends in Israel that Israel continues to make the hard decisions that must be taken in order to promote peace and... the emergence of a democratic Palestinian state.
"This is a time of optimism because fundamental changes are underway in the Middle East as a whole," she added.
After their meeting, Shalom told Channel 2 television that he gave Rice Israel's demands of the Palestinians.
"If the Palestinians do not to everything to halt the smuggling of weapons through tunnels, close the tunnels, close the weapons workshops, gather up illegal weapons - we would simply be giving the violent groups time to regroup and then carry out terror attacks that could collapse the whole process," he said.
On Monday, Rice will travel to the West Bank city of Ramallah for talks with Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia.
Tuesday's summit, hosted and initiated by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, will be attended by Sharon, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah.
Although the U.S. has said that the secretary of state will not attend the talks, her agenda is likely to include in part a review of the plans for the summit.
Rice has signaled she prefers to see Sharon and Abbas make progress as free of foreign mediation as possible.
"I hope we would all get into a mind-set that says if the parties are able to continue to move on their own, that's the very best outcome," Rice told reporters en route to Ankara, the stop before Israel.
Preparations for the Egypt summit are being finalized, but not before her arrival.
Israeli officials assessed that the secretary of state would commend both sides on their recent efforts.
Paul Patin, a spokesman of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, said Rice would bring up a wide range of issues, including Israel's commitment under the internationally backed road map peace plan to dismantle dozens of unauthorized West Bank settlement outposts and Israeli gestures to the Palestinians, such as the removal of Israeli checkpoints that disrupt Palestinian travel - gestures that would bolster confidence in the new Palestinian leadership.
"Outposts are something that they promised to remove years ago and we expect them to abide by their commitments," Patin said.
She is also expected to call on the Palestinians to do more to restore security and bring an end to violence.
For their part, the Americans are trying to play down Rice's absence from the Egyptian summit.
"It is not necessary to participate at the highest level in every gathering in order to be a major player and part of the solution," a State Department spokesman explained Saturday.
In Israel, police raised their level of operations in various regions around the country Sunday, in anticipation of Rice's arrival and the run-up to Tuesday's summit.
Police decided to bolster forces around the country and checkpoints were set up between the seam line and various Israeli cities. Police will conduct both regular and undercover patrols.
Sharon may invite Mubarak Israeli officials, meanwhile, said Sunday that Sharon may invite his Egyptian counterpart to visit Israel during Tuesday's summit, as relations between the former enemies continue to flourish.
The invitations "is quite likely," said an unnamed official. "We would very much like him to come."
In recent months relations have improved as Egypt took a larger role in mediating between Israel and the Palestinians. The last visit by an Egyptian leader to Israel was by Mubarak in 1995, when he came to the funeral of assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Condi might be on the wrong side in Israel, if so she will never be elected to President
Jerusalem is the eternal and indivisible capital of Israel. Nobody has the right to tell Israel or the Jewish people what to do with it.
That is precisely what I fear.
Yes, sadly, I do. Israel is a lot stronger than the Bosnian Muslims.
Agreed with both of you. This is out of line. Heck for all we know, Bush could be TELLING them NOT to go after Iran, which is also none of our concern. Let them do what they need to do as the sovereign country they are...and then back them up when they do it.
This is the thread I expected the bigger reaction to.
BTW, yehuda gets my fear exactly -- my fear that the Bush administration is turning on Israel.
If neither Israel nor the U.S. go after Iran I'm afraid my home will be part of a smouldering crater. I certainly hope this is NOT what the U.S. is doing. If it is I hope our Prime Minister has the courage to tell President Bush where to go.
I still remember Prime Minister Sharon in 2001 telling President Bush that we are not 1938 Czechoslovakia. I hope the Prime Minsiter remebers that as well.
WARNING: This is a high volume ping list
And I hope you are right!! Bush may be a good wartime leader, and he certainly beats the leftist fascist RATS like Klinton and Kerry, but his inconsistencies and hypocrisy on many issues really are a damn burr under my saddle.
Face it, if GWB wants to force a short term "peace", he can't very well pressure the palestinians. They and their Arab allies will flip him the bird.
"BTW, yehuda gets my fear exactly -- my fear that the Bush administration is turning on Israel."
ISRAEL is turning on it's self... which is even worse.
Sharon is a fool for promising this settlement destruction crap.
For now, I'm willing to give Secretary Rice--and, by extension, the entire administration--the benefit of the doubt. President Bush has always, it seemed to me, stood by Israel, and he had nothing but obvious contempt for the late slab of human waste known as Arafat.
But I must admit that I'm hearing more of Foggy Bottom in Dr. Rice's pronouncement's every passing day--and that is worrisome.
Israel doesn't give the US billions of dollars every year. It's that simple. If Israel wants our money, it will dance to our tune. If it wants to be independent, we wouldn't stop it from walking away.
Earth to Rice: Please shut up. Jerusalem is the city of David and Jesus and not the city of the pedophile "prophet" Muhammed, who never even stepped foot there. The city will forever be the capital of Israel and not a square inch of it should ever be controlled by moon god Nazis.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.