In a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the
Jordanian foreign minister, Abdel Ilah Khatib, said, "Jordan and other
Arab countries will insist that priority be given to solving the
Palestinian question, which is at the core of the Middle East

As part of her Middle East tour, Rice met with Arab leaders Tuesday to
discuss Iran’s nuclear program and possible solutions to ongoing
conflicts in the Middle East, particularly the Palestinian Israeli
conflict.  Rice met with the foreign ministers from Jordan, Saudi
Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait.

As the strongest ally and supporter of Israel, Arab leaders expect the U.S. to restart peace talks to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Saudi foreign minister, Saud Al-Faisal, Jordanian foreign minister, Abdel Ilah Khatib, emphasized the that the U.S. must play a central role in negotiations for peace between Palestinians and Israelis. 

"It is the hope that … the United States … will restart the peace process and lead the region to peace and stability," said Al-Faisal.

Rice’s Middle East tour focused on gaining Arab support for Washington’s moves to bring Iran to the UN Security Council over it’s alleged plans to build a nuclear bomb, information which Tehran denies. She also called for an end to Hamas-Fatah fighting, which has killed more than 12 people in the past three days. 

After threats issued by Fatah factions to assassinate top Hamas leaders, Syrian-based leader Khaled Mishaal called three Arab leaders Monday to discuss how to handle the increasingly tense situation. 

According to the official Hamas website, Mishaal spoke with the leaders of Qatar, Yemen and Sudan and urged all Arab countries to speak out on behalf of the Palestinians against the U.S.-led boycott on international aid. 

Rice’s solution:  Abide by Quartet principles and there will be internal peace, implying that it is up to the Palestinians to make peace. According to Rice, if Palestinian leaders comply with the Quartet’s demands, then Israel will hold up its end of the agreement, which requires it to accept the establishment of a Palestinian state that exists in peace and security alongside Israel and stop expanding illegal settlements in the West Bank. 

Rice said, "The answer is for the Palestinians to find a government that can be committed to the Quartet principles."

But Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member and head of the Palestinian National Initiative, Moustafa Barghouthi told Ma’an News Agency that the answer is an end to the occupation. Barghouthi said, "We are not counting a lot on her visit as long as the USA cannot understand that the occupation is the problem and the only solution is to end the occupation."

Barghouothi added, "We will wait to hear from her something about the need to pressure Israel to apply the Quartet's decisions which is to pay the taxes to the Palestinians which is now US $550 million and the current crisis is because of that".

The Quartet, which comprises the US, European Union, Russia and the UN, says that Palestinian leaders must first renounce violence, recognize Israel and abide by past peace agreements before earning the permission to restart the peace process with Israel.  

The Hamas-led Palestinian government refuses to recognize Israel and renounce violent resistance to the occupation.  The U.S. led boycott on international aid to Palestinians continues, leaving several hundred thousand hungry and leading to increased internal tensions, especially between the two main political parties Hamas and Fatah. 

Rice will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah Wednesday to discuss the recent developments regarding a Palestinian national unity government, followed by a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Wednesday to address his acute and sudden fears that Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions pose “an existential threat against the State of Israel.” 

Thursday’s schedule will include meetings with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Amir Peretz.  Among the main issues to be discussed are the threat of Iran, the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 that calls for an end to hostilities between Hezbollah and Israel, and the violent clashes between Palestinian Authority members. 

Sourced from Al-Jazeera, Haaretz, and Ma’an News Agency