Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and US secretary of State,
Condoleezza Rice, met on Thursday in the West Bank city of Jericho to
discuss cease-fire and efforts to achieve a sustainable agreement
between Israel and the Palestinians.

During their meeting, Rice told Abbas that Washington is interested in “intensifying the efforts to renew the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians”.

Rice said that the United States has made a clear position that it wants the creation of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state, and that there should be no actions that could prejudge a final status peace agreement.

She also stressed that there should be security and political reforms in the Palestinian Authority.

Yet, Rice did not talk about the Israeli practices that are in fact isolated the Palestinian areas from each other by the construction of the Wall and the expansion of settlements which directly threatens the “contiguity” of the Palestinian territories, and completely isolates the Palestinians from Jerusalem and the surrounding areas.

Meanwhile, President Abbas said that unity talks with the Hamas-led government had reached an impasse due to differences between the two factions.

“Unfortunately, that talks are still on dead end”, Abbas said, “Employees have been without salaries since eight months”.

Following her talks with Abbas, Rice headed to Jerusalem for a meeting with Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert.

Israeli sources reported that Rice is expected to ask Olmert to help boost Abbas by easing the restrictions imposed on the Palestinians and removing some of the checkpoints installed in the occupied territories.

Meanwhile, Israeli officials said that Olmert wants to emphasize to Rice that the Hamas movement should be isolated, and that the US should push for a Palestinian government that would recognize Israel, renounce violence and recognize the previous peace agreements.

Palestinian Foreign Minister, Mahmoud Zahhar, from the Hamas party, said that he does not think that Rice-Abbas meeting would help the Palestinian cause.

Zahhar stated that the United States always justifies the Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people.