Rice defends Abbas before wary Congress

Thursday, March 13, 2008 |  by Staff Writer

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice insisted in a hearing before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations on Wednesday that, despite his recent statements, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is dedicated to a negotiated settlement to the Israeli-Arab conflict and should continue to be showered with US taxpayers' dollars.

During the hearing, Rice was asked to explain the Bush Administration's support for Abbas, even as he refuses to abide by signed agreements by teaching his people that violence against Israel must be abandoned completely.

In an interview with Arab media last week, Abbas stated that he is "opposed to armed struggle because we cannot succeed in it, but maybe in the future things will be different."

Rice attempted to brush the issue aside by maintaing that "we have all had the experience of perhaps saying things that we wish we hadn't said."

The secretary further claimed that Abbas had been taken out of context, and that in her informed estimation, the Yasser Arafat's protege and successor would never sanction terrorism against Israel.

Rice failed to address the fact that just last week, official Palestinian media directly controlled by Abbas hailed the Israeli-Arab murderer of eight young Jewish bible students as a "holy martyr."

Congress recently put a hold on the transfer of $150 million in US economic aid to the Palestinian Authority over fear that the Abbas regime was continuing to glorify terrorists and encourage the murder of Israeli Jews.

Meanwhile, Israel on Thursday was bracing for a scathing report from US Middle East envoy General William Fraser, who is in the region this week to gauge Israeli and Palestinian compliance with the US-driven peace process.

Fraser is expected to harshly criticize Israel's failure to remove Jewish outposts in Judea and Samaria, while largely ignoring ongoing Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza since Abbas is no longer in control there.

Israeli leaders insist that Gaza is part of the peace process, and overall progress, including the implementation of Israeli concessions, is impossible so long as Gaza terrorist forces are assaulting the Jewish state.

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