Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Rice says Israelis, Palestinians need to coordinate on Gaza | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Al-Quds city, — Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice agreed Sunday that

Israel”s planned withdrawal of troops and settlers from

Gaza will make Israel safer and the prospects for peace

with the Palestinians brighter.

&#34The state of Israel stands at the threshold of a

historic step,&#34 Sharon said before a meeting with Rice on

the Gaza plans.

&#34The fruits of the disengagement can already be seen&#34

and Israel will be politically and economically better off

for it, Sharon said.

Rice also called the planned August withdrawal historic

and thanked Sharon warmly for making what each said were

difficult choices.

&#34The Israelis deserve a secure and peaceful future free

from the threat of terror and violence,&#34 Rice told Sharon.

She said the Gaza plan is key to the success of the

internationally backed peace plan known as the roadmap and

&#34the eventual ability to get to a two-state solution.&#34

Rice earlier cautioned that time is running out for

Palestinians and Israelis to resolve their differences over

the pullout.

&#34There is no more time to simply put problems on the

agenda,&#34 Rice said after meeting in the West Bank city of

Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and

members of the newly formed Palestinian Cabinet.

She planned to carry the same message to Sharon.

&#34Both parties will have to do their parts,&#34 Rice said.

Genuine coordination and cooperation are essential, she

said at a news conference with Abbas at the Palestinian

government”s headquarters.

Abbas, who plans a summit meeting with Sharon on Tuesday,

promised &#34total coordination with the Israeli side&#34

toward a peaceful pullout.

He emphasized that the Palestinians were committed to a

4-month-old truce with Israel. But he also complained that

Israel repeatedly had violated the agreement. He appealed

to Israel to release Palestinian prisoners and lift


Rice said Abbas has made progress to ready Palestinian

security and defense forces. Much more work lies ahead, she

said, &#34particularly to use actively the security forces to

combat lawlessness and to combat terrorism.&#34

Rice”s visit was her second trip to see Abbas in Ramallah.