09-20-2007, 06:20 PM
Direct Action Resistance Fighter
Joined: Aug 2006
US to push for Palestinian state
Quote:The US secretary of state has said the upcoming Middle East peace summit must address substantive issues and advance the cause of a Palestinian state.
Condoleezza Rice said there was no point inviting the Israelis and the Palestinians to the conference expected in November just for the sake of it.
Ms Rice made the comments after holding talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.
They also come a day after the Israeli cabinet declared Gaza a hostile entity.
The move, in response to continued rocket attacks by Palestinian militants in the coastal territory, could lead to the suspension of fuel and electricity supplies.
Mr Abbas and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon have warned that such restrictions would contravene obligations under international humanitarian law to look after the welfare of Gaza's civilian population.
At the meeting in the West Bank, Ms Rice tried to assure the Palestinian leader that the meeting would be focused.
"From my point of view, a successful meeting has to be one that is substantive and that advances the cause of the Palestinian state... and not one in which we simply meet for the sake of meeting," she told reporters afterwards.
"We have many things to do - we don't need a photo opportunity."
Ms Rice said Mr Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would draft a document before the conference that would "lay the foundations for serious negotiations".
Ms Rice will be aware that unless there is the prospect of real substance, the US will find it hard to get Arab states such as Saudi Arabia to attend the conference, says the BBC's Middle East analyst Roger Hardy.
Mr Abbas wants it to set out the framework for an agreement between the two sides, including a timetable leading to the creation of a Palestinian state, our correspondent says.
Israel has so far resisted such a move.
He is afraid that to attend a weak or inconclusive conference would play into the hands of his critics in the Islamist movement, Hamas, who are already confidently predicting the conference will be a waste of time, our correspondent adds.
Ms Rice's trip has been overshadowed by Israel's decision to declare Gaza a hostile entity.
On Wednesday, Ms Rice defended Israel's move, but made a distinction between civilians in the Gaza Strip and the militant group Hamas, which seized control of the territory in June.
She said America "would not abandon the innocent Palestinians" of Gaza.
Mr Abbas, the moderate leader on whom the US has pinned hopes for peace, condemned the Israeli move.
"This oppressive decision will only strengthen the choking embargo imposed on 1.5 million people in the Gaza Strip, increase their suffering and deepen their tragedy," his office said in a statement.
Mr Ban said: "Such a step would be contrary to Israel's obligations towards the civilian population [of Gaza] under international humanitarian and human rights law."
Hamas said Israel's statement was tantamount to a declaration of war.
But Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said the decision did not breach international law and would not affect the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli public pressure for action has mounted since a rocket fired from Gaza hit an army base last week, injuring 69 troops.
Palestinian militant groups say the rocket fire is a response to Israeli military action in Gaza and the West Bank.
By formally declaring Gaza a "hostile entity", Israel could argue that it is no longer bound by international law governing the administration of occupied territory to supply utilities to its inhabitants, correspondents say.
Under international law, Israel remains legally responsible for the coastal strip, despite withdrawing two years ago, as it still controls Gaza's borders, air-space and territorial waters.
The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall. - Che Guevara
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