United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is on a brief visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, met with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni Saturday night and denied publications she will demand Israel to skip the first stage of the Roadmap for Peace, obliging the Palestinians to dismantle the terror infrastructure.
“We continue to support the Roadmap as a reliable guide to the President's two-state vision. One of the very great values of the Roadmap is that it has international support. We should never throw out the good work that we've done before,” Secretary Rice said.
Livni said that there is a need to give Palestinians a political horizon and at the same time to care for the security of Israelis. Livni added that the purpose of the political process should be two states living side by side in peace.
Secretary Rice: “This is a very important and challenging time in the Middle East, but a time that I believe does have promise if we exercise our belief that most people of the Middle East, in fact, do want to live in a place where their children can grow up in peace. It is possible to have the kind of Middle East in which Israelis and Palestinians and other people of the Middle East can live in peace and in which democracy can make progress.”
Rice added that the world should act against Iran’s plans for nuclear armament and not to rely only on the Security Council resolution on economic and political sanctions.
Earlier, Rice met with Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman, who said that another armed conflict in Gaza is only a matter of time. According to Lieberman, an operation of entering and exiting the Gaza Strip will not achieve anything. He added that if Israel will decide to return to control Gaza, this kind of operation will necessitate the deployment of 30,000 NATO troops to keep the peace.
Rice also met with Defense Minister Amir Peretz who presented her with his new political plan for peace with the Palestinians. Peretz asked Rice to keep the issue of the kidnapped soldiers on the international agenda, and discussed ways to stop the strengthening of extremist elements.
Rice is planning to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah today, and will meet with Prime Minister Olmert on Monday, before returning to the United States.