|Rice Sees Gaza Withdrawal as Step on Roadmap to Peace|
Disengagement can lead to vision of two states living in peace
By Howard Cincotta
Washington File Special Correspondent
Washington -- Israeli plans for withdrawal from Gaza and four West Bank cities is potentially historic and can lead to progress on the Roadmap to peace and a two-state solution, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in two interviews with Israeli television February 6.
"The very difficult decision to dismantle settlements ... creates a new dynamic on the ground," Rice said in an interview with Ayala Hasson of Israel Television Channel One. "We believe that the disengagement plan is actually helpful to moving forward on the Roadmap and ultimately then to the two-state solution."
Talking with Udi Segal of Israel Channel Two, Rice said, "We believe that the disengagement is a historic opportunity to get onto a path to peace, and ultimately, the security and the future of all Israelis and Palestinians is only going to be assure by two states living side by side in peace."
Rice promised that the United States would be very active in the region to bring the two sides together, and would continue to work together with regional partners such as Jordan and Egypt, as well as with the other members of the Quartet: the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia.
On Iran, Rice said that it is vital for the international community to demonstrate "unity of purpose" in demonstrating that Iran cannot be a member in good standing of the international community as long as it seeks nuclear weapons under the cover of civilian programs and provides support for terrorism. "I believe that this is a time for diplomacy and that diplomacy can succeed," she said on Channel One.
Rice urged nations that have relations with Syria to convince Syrians that it is time for them to stop all support for terrorism and to end their interference in Lebanon as well as any encouragement for the insurgency in Iraq.
In response to a question on Channel Two, Rice said that, while President Bush gave some public assurances during Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's last visit to Washington, "he made very clear that everything had to be negotiated, that the final status arrangements would have to be up to the parties."
The State Department transcripts of Rice's interviews with Israeli television are available online at:
Secretary Rice's Interview with Ayala Hasson, Israel Television Channel One:
Secretary Rice's Interview with Udi Segal, Israel Television Channel Two: