Rice reportedly pleased with promised Israeli gestures

Sunday, March 30, 2008 |  by Staff Writer

Israeli officials cited by Ynet on Sunday said that visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had expressed satisfaction with a long list of peace gestures offered by Defense Minister Ehud Barak when the two met, along with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, earlier in the day in Tel Aviv.

Under pressure from Washington to begin implementing concessions to the Palestinians prior to President George W. Bush visits the region in May, Barak reportedly ordered his staff to draw up significant gestures, while maintaining Israel's security.

The list presented to Rice included the removal of some 50 roadblocks set up in Judea and Samaria to restrict the movement of terrorists, the removal of a Jewish community on land claimed by the Palestinians, and approval for a Jordanian businessman to construct a new suburb adjacent to the de facto Palestinian Authority capital of Ramallah. Israel will also increase by 5,000 the number of Palestinians it allows to work inside sovereign Israel.

At a press conference following their meeting, Rice said that she will be checking regularly with a team of US monitors headed by General William Fraser to make sure the Israelis are fulfilling their commitments.

Earlier this month, Fraser issued a report concluding that the Palestinian Authority is systematically failing to honor its primary peace obligation to combat anti-Israel Palestinian terrorism. The US team found that the government of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas only acts against terror groups when they are threatening his rule, but has opted to merely contain violence against Israel to the extent necessary to avoid international pressure.

Fayyad responded to Barak's detailed gestures on Sunday with a vague promise to increase efforts to curb Palestinian terrorism.

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