Israeli sources reported U.S. security of State Condoleezza Rice has arrived in the country early Saturday.Ã‚Â The source said that Rice is en-route to Ramallah as she is scheduled to meet with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas later today.
Ignoring the Israeli violations of the cease-fire declared in Sharm Al-Sheikh in February, Rice said prior to her meeting with Abbas that she will discuss with him the Palestinian role in ensuring a smooth disengagement, and the continuity of the calm declared by the Palestinian factions.Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ‚Â Rice added that Palestinians can do more on fighting Ã¢â‚¬Å“terror.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Rice warns Israel against creating new settlements
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned Israel on Friday against building new settlements, saying this would prejudge the path to peace with the Palestinians,Ã¢â‚¬Â media sources reported.
‘We don’t intend that the Israelis try to create facts on the ground,’ Rice told reporters traveling on the plane with her to Israel. ‘They simply cannot engage in activities that are supposed to prejudge the final terms of a peace settlement,’ Rice said.
The source reported that Rice will be looking for proof that both sides are living up to their parts of the bargain Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a smooth quite Israeli withdrawal and a workable plans by the Palestinians to maintain security afterwards.
‘What they are doing is moving thousands of people with their effects, and families, and it’s going to be complicated,’ Rice said, ‘I know Israel has done a lot of planning; I know the Palestinians have done a lot of planning. Our goal is to make sure they are doing their planning together,’ she said.
However, Palestinian officials have been continuously complaining lack of coordination despite the several meetings for the joint committee in charge of the disengagement plan.
The U.S. State Department is taking a close look at Israeli initiatives to deepen Israeli construction in East Jerusalem and use the separation wall to distance tens of thousands of Palestinians from the city, who in most cases hold permanent residence status in Jerusalem.
Israel continues to settlementsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ expansion despite several warnings from the U.S. and despite the obvious damage it is causing for the peace process and for the chances of a viable Palestinian State, as stated in the Road Map and previous agreements.
The Palestinian Authority will present Rice with data on Israel’s expansion of settlements, contrary to its commitments under the road map peace plan. Palestinian leaders do not have high expectations from the visit.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Wednesday that ‘the disengagement is a way to accelerate progress toward the goals of the road map and to get back into the road map. And I expect that, certainly, that is an issue that the secretary will touch on.’
Israeli sources said RiceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s visit is aimed at helping to remove obstacles in the way of implementing the disengagement. Therefore, they do not think she will pressure the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to make good on his commitment to dismantle the unauthorized outposts and to freeze settlement expansion.
On the other hand, Rice will meet with Abbas in Ramallah on Saturday and expects to hear from him about progress in reforming PA security services, the source reported.