Condoleezza Rice, the U.S Secretary of State, met the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at his headquarters in the central West Bank city of Ramallah. After a one hour meeting Abbas and Rice held a press conference. Abbas started the conference by welcoming Rice; he proceeded to say the talks were important and discussed updates, of the dangerous on the ground situation.
Abbas did not mention resuming talks with Israeli but said that negotiations are the way for peace. "We are confident, and continue to be, that the solution to the Palestinian- Israeli conflict is not violence, but through negotiations based on international support… We have said repeatedly that peace talks are our strategic choice."
Regarding Israeli security, Abbas said "it is very dangerous that Israel continues to insist on its security measures alone." The Palestinian-Israeli peace talks have been advancing slowly, without concrete results, since they were first revived by the US-sponsored summit of Annapolis in November 2007.
The Israeli attacks on Gaza, which escalated last Wednesday and continued through to Monday morning, left 120 Palestinians dead and over 300 injured. Of those killed during the five–day offensive, at least 95 were civilians. On Sunday the Palestinian president suspended talks with Israeli until it halted attacks on Gaza.
On Monday the Israeli army pulled its ground troops out from Gaza, but the air raids continue. Rice said that this is a challenging time for Palestinians, but that it's also a challenging time for Israel. Rice said that the U.S is very concerned about the recent escalation on the ground, "Let me just tell you, we are very concerned about the violence that led to many innocent people being trapped in cross fire." Rice added, she is looking forward to the resumption of the Israeli Palestinian talks to achieve a two state solution.
The Secretary of State blamed Hamas for the escalation in Gaza. Rice said that by Hamas taking control of Gaza and firing home made shells into Israel has caused this violence. Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in June 2007 after several months of power struggle with the Abbas' Fatah party. Amidst the escalating Israeli attacks, and Palestinian dissatisfaction with the peace process, Rice faces an uphill struggle in order to resume the stalled peace talks, launched in November 2007 . Rice will meet Israeli Prime minister Ehod Olmert later this evening for similar discussion.