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Rice Interview With Channel 10 TV of Israel

Interview With Raviv Drucker of Channel 10 TV of Israel

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
February 6, 2005

QUESTION: Good evening, Madame Secretary. Welcome to Israel.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much.

QUESTION: As far as we understand it, two leaders [are] already preparing a statement about the end of the intifada. Is it premature?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I don't want to try to get into the details of what the leaders will do. We will see what they will do on Tuesday. But what they clearly are doing is, by their presence in Egypt, they are committing to try to take advantage of the new momentum that we seem to have in the prospects for peace. It comes both from the fact that there is new Palestinian leadership. And, we believe, in the United States, that the decision of the Prime Minister and the Israeli government to disengage from the Gaza and the four settlements in the West Bank has also given a new momentum and created a new dynamic for peace.

QUESTION: When did you decide not to go to Sharm?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, it's very often a good thing when the parties themselves and the regional leaders can meet. I have been in touch with my Egyptian and Jordanian counterparts. I have of course met with the Prime Minister and will meet with President Abbas. We are going to be very much active in this process. But it's a good thing when the parties and the regional leaders can push this forward on their own. You needn't worry. The United States will be there whenever needed.

QUESTION: Speaking about American involvement, and you spoke about the disengagement plan. The Special Advisor to the Prime Minister, Dov Weissglas, that you know very, very well, said a few months ago in an interview that after the disengagement, the peace process will be frozen, and we will wait until the Palestinians will become Scandinavian.

SECRETARY RICE: Let me not try and paraphrase my friend Dubi Weissglas. I think that the key here is that we are in a new dynamic now and that new dynamic is that the disengagement and the new Palestinian leadership have given us a new opportunity. It is our hope that if the parties can move forward, that we will soon be on the Roadmap and back on the way to the President's vision of two states living in peace.

QUESTION: Do you have any position regarding the prisoner issue that is so tense right now? Whether Israel should release more Palestinian prisoners? Whether Israel should release Palestinian prisoners with blood on their hands, as we call it?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I would not presume to tell a democratically elected Israeli government which prisoners to release. We know that it is a part of the discussion between the parties, and obviously we are supportive of anything that the parties can do to sustain the momentum toward peace.

I will say there is a long road ahead. Even this is a very hopeful time, we have very hard work to do, and much of that hard work is going to depend on the parties making difficult decisions and difficult choices and the United States will be very supportive of those decisions.

QUESTION: How much do you think calming the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians will help you in your policy in Iraq?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, clearly we are -- together with our friends and allies and together with many in the Middle East -- hoping to see the emergence of a different kind of Middle East than we have all experienced over the last years. One part of that is a democratic Iraq, and the Iraqi people took a very major step forward on Sunday when they faced down terrorists and decided to vote in large numbers. Another part of a different kind of Middle East would be a resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the creation of a Palestinian a viable Palestinian state, a democratic state, that could live side by side in peace with a democratic Jewish state of Israel. So, it is a peace.

QUESTION: A last question on a personal note. Do you see it as a realistic scenario that you, as a Secretary of State, will bring those two leaders to a permanent status agreement, to peace?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I don't think of it in terms of what I might do as a Secretary of State. I do think that on June 24th, 2002, President Bush gave a kind of challenge, if you will, to the parties. He said that some fundamental choices had to be made by Israel, by the Palestinians, by the Arab states, by the international community, in order to get peace. He spoke the truth about the need for new Palestinian leadership. He spoke the truth about the need for Israel to create conditions that would nurture and bring forward a democratic Palestinian state. Some of those fundamentals are now coming into place, and it's my great hope that over the next years that we can realize the dream -- and make it a reality -- of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, thank you very, very much for your time. We appreciate it. And have a good dinner with the Prime Minister.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. I look forward to it.

Released on February 6, 2005

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