During a joint press conference held in Ramallah on Saturday after U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Rice described the disengagement plan as the best chance for reinvigorating the stalled ‘road map’ peace plan.
‘We must all focus on the disengagement as our best chance to re-energize the road map… Both parties will have to do their parts if this is to be a peaceful and orderly withdrawal from Gaza,’ Rice said.
From his side, Abbas said the Palestinians were committed to ensuring a peaceful pullout and to ‘total coordination with the Israeli side.’
He also emphasized that the Palestinians were committed to a 4-month-old truce with Israel, but complained that Israel had repeatedly violated the agreement.
Rice praised Abbas’ efforts to reform the Palestinian Authority, but emphasized the need for more active usage of the security forces to combat the chaos created by armed gangs in many Palestinian areas and to combat terrorism.
Asked about the participation of Hamas in the general PA elections, Rice said that ‘the administration sees Hamas as a terrorist organization, but this is an internal Palestinian matter.’
The secretary of state went on to say that Abbas was the democratically elected leader of the Palestinian people, ‘a man of peace’ and that ‘his government seeks peace and the policy of the US is to support it.’