Israel + 1 more

Rice visits Israel, Palestinian areas to discuss Gaza withdrawal

Secretary calls for tight coordination, rapid resolution of withdrawal issues

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she looks forward to discussions with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in the coming days about ways in which the United States can support Israel's evacuation from Gaza and four settlements in the West Bank.

"I also look forward to talking about the need to resist any efforts by terrorists to destroy this moment of hope for the people of the Palestinian territories and for the people of Israel," Rice said in Jerusalem July 21.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said he will discuss with Rice ways to put the peace efforts back in the hands of the moderates. He expressed the hope that more Arab countries will open representative offices in Israel in response to the Gaza withdrawal.

Following is the transcript of the statements by Rice and Shalom:

(begin transcript)

Office of the Spokesman (Jerusalem)
July 21, 2005


July 21, 2005

FOREIGN MINISTER SHALOM: Good evening. Let me open my remarks by extending my feeling of solidarity and sympathy with Britain on yet another day of violence in London. The government and people of Israel stand as one with Britain at this time. Next week I will be visiting London for a meeting with Prime Minister Blair and my colleague, Foreign Secretary Straw. I will convey to them our determination to continue working together, as we do with the United States and our other partners in the war on terror. In our joint struggle to preserve our shared democratic values and way of life from the violence of the extremists, it is my pleasure to welcome the Secretary of State to Israel once again.

We are on the verge of a most crucial and decisive moment in the implementation of disengagement plan. On the one hand, it provokes a difficult internal debate which, although difficult, we will manage with our inner strength. On the other hand, it brings new hope to us and our future generations. In this regard, we are stressing the need of coordination with all the relevant factors, mainly with the Palestinians. However, we will need the assistance of our friends in this matter.

First and foremost, the assistance of Dr. Rice and the American administration. Your commitment to restoring calm and to ensuring the success of the disengagement plan will hopefully have the desired and necessary impact, and we thank you for that. For eight months now, Palestinian leader Abu Mazen has been claiming that he is too weak to deal with the terrorists effectively, but his action in the last few days has shown that he does have the ability to stand up to Hamas. Action to stop terrorism of Hamas and Islamic Jihad must not be just a temporary response to specific attacks. It must be adopted as a proactive strategy and the principle of policy so that our peace efforts can have any chance of success.

In our meeting this evening, Secretary Rice and I will discuss the steps that must be taken to wrest control of the fate of our peace efforts from the hands of the extremists and place it back in the hands of the moderates. Indeed, the United States continues to show the way in its uncompromising attitude towards terrorism. We welcome the United States' firm opposition to any kind of political dialogue with those engaged in terrorism, whether in the Palestinian context, the Lebanese context, or any other. This approach must serve as an example to all. In our meeting we will also discuss how Israel and the United States can work together to promote greater regional cooperation in support of peace.

The coming month will provide a window of opportunity for improvement in the normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab countries. In this context we will hope to see an opening of new representations, offices of Arab states in Israel. We are confident that the United States will continue to contribute to this effort.

Once again, it is a pleasure for me personally, and for all of us, to welcome you once again to Jerusalem.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much. Thank you, Foreign Minister, for those kind words of welcome. It is very good to be here in Israel again. I want to add my words of support to the people of London and to the people of Great Britain for the incidents that occurred today. There are obviously those who would try to terrorize populations and free peoples everywhere. The British people have impressed everyone with their strength and their resolve and I am certain that they will continue to do the same.

I look forward to my discussions with Foreign Minister Shalom tonight and with other Israeli officials as the next couple of days go on and also with Palestinian officials. This is a critical time in the history of this region because Prime Minister Sharon has taken a historic decision to disengage from the Gaza and from four settlements in the West Bank. This is an effort - and I know that it is an effort by the Prime Minister and his government to improve the security situation for the Israeli people. That is the most important job, of course, of any Israeli Prime Minister, and also to improve the chances for a lasting peace.

I look forward to talking with both the Israelis and the Palestinians about the need for tight coordination and for rapid resolution of a number of key issues that are before the parties in advance of the disengagement. I also look forward to talking about the need to resist any efforts by terrorists to destroy this moment of hope for the people of the Palestinian territories and for the people of Israel.

There are always those who will try and destroy hope. President Abbas made a very fine statement the other day as the Palestinians have begun to act. I would just encourage them in that work because I am quite certain that the Palestinian mothers and fathers and grandparents want a world in which their children can live in peace and prosperity just as Israeli parents and grandparents want the same for their children.

So, I look forward to talking with the parties about how we can advance. The United States remains committed to peace in this region, remains committed to active engagement to help assure that peace and of course, remains committed to the broader struggle against extremism and those who would frustrate the hopes of peaceful and democratic peoples everywhere.

Thank you very much.

(end transcript)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: