U.S secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, stated on Wednesday in Jerusalem that Palestinian and Israeli negotiators are likely to meet on Thursday after they were halted when Israeli initiated its recent military offensive in the Gaza Strip.The statements of Rice came during a press conference with Israel’s Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported.
US Gen. William Fraser heads the committee which was appointed by Rice to monitor the implantation of the Road Map plan. Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, and Palestinian Prime Minister, Salaam Fayyad are members of the committee.
During the press conference, Rice stated that both Palestinian and Israeli parties did not do enough to meet their obligations in accordance to the Road Map Plan. She said that the Palestinians must “stop the attacks” and Israel must act to evacuate settlement outposts.
Rice also accused Hamas movement in Gaza of holding the residents as hostages, and added that the firing of homemade shells from Gaza into adjacent Israeli areas should stop.
She added that “as Israel defends itself, it should be careful about innocent people caught in the crossfire”, Haaretz said.
Meanwhile, Livni said that Israel and the International Community, the United States and important leaders of the Palestinian Authority have adopted a dual strategy since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip.
According to this strategy, talks will be held with diplomatic Palestinian leaders while at the same time the parties would continue working for delegitimizing Hamas movement “as a terrorist group”.
Moreover, Haaretz said that the meetings between Palestinian negotiators are talking place on three levels; first, meetings between Israel’s Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, and the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, second, talks between Livni and Ahmad Qorea’, and third talks between work groups of both sides on several civilian issues.
Advisors of Qorea’ and Livni are likely to take place on Thursday, while Abbas and Olmert will likely meet next week.
. The Israeli attacks on Gaza, which escalated on Wednesday and continued through Monday morning, left 120 Palestinians dead and over 300 injured. Of those killed during the five –day offensive, at least 95 were civilians.