QUESTION: I would say even amongst people who are inclined to support a
two-state solution in the Jewish community, the biggest criticism we've been hearing, or concern about the upcoming conference, is that given the large gap
between Israeli and Palestinians' positions and expectations that there's a real fear that, like in 2000, some sort of -- the perception of a failed meeting actually runs a risk of launching a new wave of violence that would create a situation that's worse than the current status quo. What do you say to those people?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, first, I've been out there. I've been talking to the parties a lot. I think their views of what Annapolis can do are converging. And I think this focuses much more now on the day after, as Foreign Minister Livni had called it, because the day after is really when you have to get down to the business of trying to come to an agreement.
They're not going to create the Palestinian state at Annapolis. They're not going to create it four days after Annapolis. That is work that has to be done in detailed, ongoing, continuous negotiations. And so Annapolis is for the parties to come together, to have the international community launch them, to have an opportunity for Prime Minister Blair to talk about what he is doing to build the capacity of Palestinians so that they could govern a state, I would hope for the Arabs to make clear that they are prepared to both support the
Palestinians and to reach out to the Israelis, and to have some confidence-building measures that are based on phase one obligations of the roadmap to show that this is all serious. I think that's where we are converging.
Now, there was an earlier time when there was a question about whether their joint document was going to try to have the basics of the deal. I think it's not surprising that when people recognize that there's going to be a day after, they start to focus on the day after, not the day of.
...QUESTION: One of those obligations is on -- the Palestinians cite often as the
settlement issue. And I wanted to know if -- have you -- what kind of efforts from the Israelis have you gotten on that issue and are you satisfied with Israel's cooperation?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, American -- the American position on this is clear, which is the roadmap position that settlement activity is not consistent with the roadmap. And what I've heard the -- but I -- but there are a lot of other elements of the roadmap as well, including for the Palestinians to dismantle the infrastructure of terror.
From Tzipi Livni's Knesset speech:-
...the talks being held today with them hold no immediate concessions. That was the condition for embarking on this dialogue. That was part of the basic understandings, and we are still making progress. I am not crazy about every word in the Roadmap, but I do think that its fundamental principle, that the way to a Palestinian state is through a war on terror, is the correct principle and it is important for us to insist on it every step of the way.
The Roadmap establishes the principle of the Palestinian obligation to fight terror and incitement, alongside Israel’s obligations, and only after fulfillment of this stage will there be a dialogue which will lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state according to the conditions of the permanent arrangement.
Israel has decided to conduct a dialogue alongside the implementation of the first stage of the Roadmap. After that, the condition for carrying out all the understandings reached in the dialogue will be the execution of all stages of the Roadmap, including fighting terror...
...Limor Livnat mentioned the question of leaving Gaza. I still think that the decision to get out of Gaza and the decision on disengagement was right, and it’s a good thing we got out of there. But as I said even then, and today I say it again, part of what we need to do is to try and reach an agreement, and not just to throw the key to the other side. Part of our duty is also to determine what will happen on the other side of the border, and if we reach understandings -that will be good. And if we don’t reach understandings, then we certainly won’t move forward with implementation.
If anyone thinks that inaction represents Israel’s best interests, he is wrong on every count. At the moment, the next step is entering a dialogue. Annapolis, I’m sorry to say, has become, for various reasons, the main event. The big drama. It’s not the drama.
...All issues must be placed on the table, and we need to demand and insist on everything we require, for many reasons including the situation today in the Palestinian Authority territories and in the entire Middle East.
It’s true that we are starting the dialogue simultaneously with the implementation of the first stage of the Roadmap. However, it’s a fact that we stipulated that there must be full implementation of the Roadmap before Israel takes the steps it will have to take to enable the creation of a Palestinian state.
To calm the worriers - up until Annapolis and at Annapolis, the idea is to start a process, and not to arrive there with understandings on the core issues of the conflict.