Rice hints the US may push for creation of Palestinian state
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters in Egypt that an about-face by the Bush administration on the creation of a Palestinian state is not out of the realm of possibility, reports the New York Times.
"I donít rule out at some point that might be a useful thing to do," she said.
"Trying to impose an American-made solution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has, for years, been the very thing that Bush administration officials have steadfastly said they would not do," says the Times.
But the Iraq war has significantly eroded the standing of the United States in the Arab world. Many administration officials now feel that the only way to restore that standing is to push the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in the direction of the creation of a Palestinian state.
"Several State Department officials say that there is now an acknowledgment within the administration that the hands-off policy has caused prospects for peace to deteriorate," writes the NYT.
"This is a place where if you leave things alone, they donít just stagnate," one administration official said. "They get worse."
In Egypt this weekend, Ms. Rice is expected to try to prod Americaís Sunni Arab allies to augment a 2002 Saudi peace proposal when the Arab League holds its meeting in Riyadh at the end of the month. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations, who is on his own tour of the Middle East, will also be there.
American officials have largely given up their hope that the Arabs might actually change the initiative to include things more palatable to Israel ó like, for instance, signaling a willingness to at least discuss ways to settle the issue of Palestinian refugees who left, or were forced to leave, their homes in Israel.
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