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Remarks With Palestinian Prime Minister

Remarks With Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad

Secretary Condoleezza Rice

Jenin

November 8, 2008

PRIME MINISTER FAYYAD: (Via interpreter). Good evening. I would like, at the beginning, to express my utmost pleasure to receive Madame Secretary of the United States of America, Secretary Rice, in Jenin.

This is for us, as Palestinians, a historic visit for numerous reasons. This is the first visit conducted by a Secretary of State of the United States to Jenin. When I say it is historic for more than one reason, it is because I believe that this visit has enabled Secretary Rice to see, firsthand, the consistent and persistent efforts of the Palestinian Authority, supported by awareness and ambitions and aspirations of the Palestinian people, in terms of building the Palestinian state, the upcoming Palestinian state. If we were here in this hospital and about to integrate on the road of rebuilding the Palestinian institutions of this important section in Jenin, this is just a part of the overall efforts and accomplishments in Jenin.

I would seize this opportunity to express my gratitude to -- and appreciation to the U.S. administration for their support in this vital sector – in this health sector. And, as you know, this is not only about this effort - if we were talking today about the health sector, yesterday we were talking and addressing other sectors in which the United States helped us, in terms of implementation. There are many other infrastructure and other services. Today we are talking about health. But there are also other U.S.-supported projects in private sector: education, infrastructure, and different domains, roads, water, and other -- in terms of capacity building of institutions.

Again, once more, I thank the United States for this support. As you know, the United States had actually given us direct assistance, in terms of dealing with the activities of the Palestinian Authority by financing our (inaudible) costs. They have covered about -- with the sum of $300 million that were transferred directly from the U.S. administration, once in March of this year, and another time also three weeks ago. This is an unprecedented level of support, cash support, also in terms of the assistance itself, and also in terms of the means of direct transfer of the cash assistance to the treasury of the Palestinian Authority, which is -- shows recognition by the United States and the international community, in general about the progress and the accomplishments that the Palestinian Authority has been able to make, in terms of building its institutions. In this case I am talking about the financial systems.

So, I thank Secretary Rice for her support in this field, and thanks to President Bush, and thanks to the U.S. Congress and the American people for this support, which reached this year about $700 million. And you have seen me, on more than one occasion, along with my friends, the Consul General Jake Walles and his colleague, Howard Sumka, Chief of USAID, on numerous occasions where we inaugurated projects, and the same applies also to other friends from the international community who supported us in similar ways, in order to build the institutions of the Palestinian Authority, an effective and serious and professional Palestinian Authority services, to provide services to the people.

This is an important topic, and I say again that if we look at this in a general sense, in the context of state-building, this is what this project is about, is to end occupation and the creation and building of the Palestinian state. And, as you know, we have, on many occasions, have stated that we will exert all efforts in order to build the Palestinian state, despite the presence of occupation. We will continue to build, in spite of the occupation. And this is what the Annapolis process was all about, the foundations of this process is to build the institutions of the Palestinian state.

And, if you remember, the Annapolis conference focused and stressed the need to end the occupation which started in 1967, and to build the Palestinian state on the occupied territories in 1967. This concept has been stressed in the Annapolis conference with all its implications, in terms of implementing the Roadmap.

In the past year, we have exerted efforts. Since the conclusion of the Annapolis conference we have exerted tremendous efforts, in terms of building, construction, preparation towards the creation of the Palestinian state and its capable institutions. These are our obligations under the Roadmap. Our obligations fall under – are about improving our capabilities, and our abilities to deal with all the challenges, in terms of general governance, administration, in terms of building institutions capable of running a state, including the Palestinian national economy.

As you know, the Roadmap -- there are other obligations that the Israelis have to meet. And we need assistance, in terms of implementing our own obligations in order to meet the aspirations and the Palestinian dream of ending the occupation and building the state. And we have received, and we continue to receive, a lot of international support in order to enhance our capabilities and make us able to bring about the state.

What we are about today, here, is to -- is this hospital, which will provide services to the Palestinian people. And this is in evidence, again, of the assistance that is provided to us by the international community.

But in order to reach a point where the occupation ends, and that we'll be able -- a point that we will be able to build the state, this will only come about once Israel fully meets the Roadmap as part of the Roadmap obligations, including cessation of settlement activities, immediate cessation of settlement activities, as stated in the Roadmap. And, in addition -- and given the performance, the improvement and performance of the security sector, it's about time that the Palestinian citizen needs to feel tangibly the difference in a substantial way, in terms of the change in the conduct of the Israeli security services, with regards to the continuation of the Israeli incursions into Jenin and other areas.

In Jenin, there has been a significant improvement in the security environment, which has been witnessed and recognized by all. So this is a prerequisite. It's a must, in order to reach our destination and give the Palestinian people the chance to feel tangibly to the point where there would be a change in access. And here I am talking about the changes that need to be answered in terms of access, so that people in Jenin and other areas who continue to suffer from lack of access from movement restrictions.

When we talk about movement restrictions, first and foremost, what comes to mind is the Israeli-imposed siege on the Gaza Strip, as well. These are prerequisites for the success. These issues need to be resolved, and need to be focused on in order to reach the destination that we want. There are important aspects for this process, the political process and aspects.

The final status issues where there is a need to continue negotiations in order to reach acceptable formulas for the solution that would meet the international legitimacy and international law. And, in parallel to that, there is a need to continue and prepare to build and create the Palestinian state, and this is what we are focusing on. This is what requires cooperation from all, and this is what needs to actually be implemented.

Madame Secretary, again I welcome you here in Jenin. And, please, allow me to say, as we are about to go through a transitional phase of the new U.S. administration, we know that you will, as other previous administrations and American political traditions, that you will transfer the files to the new incoming administration. And I am fully confident that what you -- what will be transferred to the new administration will basically cover all the issues, as we stand -- as they stand today, and what are the prerequisites for success.

But I also hope that you would convey -- in addition to that, that you would convey to the new administration what you have seen here in Palestine through your numerous visits here -- about 19 visits, if I were correct -- and the last of which, your historic visit here in Jenin.

I hope that you will tell the new administration that you found in Palestine people who aspire to freedom, people who are peace loving, people who are seeking to achieve peace, that you have found in Palestine a people who aspire in order to reach all of these goals, to end the occupation, to create their independence of state with Jerusalem, with (inaudible) Jerusalem as its capital, to create a modern state that -- built on democratic foundations where liberties and freedoms are respected, cultural and religious tolerance, and open -- cultural and open state for the creativity of all the peoples and civilizations around the world.

This is the state that we want, and our people are seeking to build. I hope that you will -- urge you to convey this to the new administration. This is our people and this is what we are trying to do with your support. There is no doubt that this is an occasion for me to express to you personally my utmost gratitude for your efforts in trying to help us in order to reach all of these goals that I mentioned earlier and please allow me your excellency that the noble human values do not recognize borders , in fact, they go beyond borders - south, east, west and north.

And I thank you because I know fully that the feeling that you and the American people in general have felt - and are proud of the elections that you have conducted in the United States. This is the same feeling that has pushed you to work so persistently and exert tremendous efforts in order to help us to reach our goals.

Our people here - what we are seeking and what we are eager to do is to get to the day where we enjoy as all the other peoples around the world to live in dignity and freedom in our own homeland named Palestine, to live in peace and security with all of our neighbors, enhanced security and stability in the region at large, which is also to the beneficial to the entire international community. Thank you again and I wish you success.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much, Prime Minister Fayyad, Salam, for, first of all, your leadership and your friendship over these years. We first met in the early years of the Bush administration, when it was a very difficult time in this region. Indeed, when President Bush came into office, of course, the Camp David efforts had collapsed, violence was raging, both from the second intifada and from large-scale military operations of Israel.

We have talked about the different situation now. I remember our discussion about the Bethlehem Investment Conference, which you sponsored and which was a great success. And we shared the story of the terrible day when I remember getting an anguished call from the Vatican because, indeed, a hole had been blown in the Church of the Nativity by a tank shell. These are different days for Palestinians and Israelis. But the work is not yet done. I do believe fully that the day is coming soon when the Palestinian people will live in their own state of Palestine.

I said yesterday, and I want to underscore, that one of the great joys of my time as Secretary of State and the many, many trips that I have made here, has been to see the tremendous perseverance of the Palestinian people, their tremendous desire to live in peace and freedom, and their great dignity, and to respect their desire to live in that state which will be in full accordance with the dignity that they have, as a people. And that is coming.

That day is coming because the process of coming to peace, that Annapolis launched, of course, does have a political element that will deal with the final status issues, the core issues, and the parties are discussing those issues for the first time in almost a decade. And they are making progress, and they will report to the Quartet about that progress tomorrow.

But it is also going to come soon, the Palestinian State, because of what is being done here in Jenin, and under your leadership in other parts of the West Bank. You said to me once that the people of Palestine should begin to build the institutions of the Palestinian state in anticipation of an end to the occupation. And Jenin is an example of doing precisely that.

I met earlier with the security chiefs who are providing security and a secure environment to the Palestinian people, so that they can work and educate their children and have their daily lives.

This wonderful hospital, where I saw mothers with their newborn babies, is an example of an improvement in the life of the Palestinian people. There are shops open along the streets here of Jenin. And I know there are many other projects like this throughout the West Bank that you and the Palestinian authority under President Abbas's leadership have been bringing into being.

I want to thank our USAID representatives here, because we want, in the United States, to be good partners for the Palestinian people as they build the institutions of statehood and recognize and realize the creation of the Palestinian state. There are other international partners, as well, in the region and across the world, who are a part of this great effort to build a Palestinian state from the ground up.

And so, when Annapolis recognized the need for political negotiations to end the occupation that began in 1967, the importance, in a second track, of building a better life for the Palestinian people, there are improvements on the ground, but especially in the establishment of institutions of the state, and in particular, the security institutions of the state. And, on a third track, the need for regional and international support for the entire process.

We understood Annapolis to be an integrated process, in which all three elements had to work together. They are indivisible. A Palestinian state will not be built in a room negotiating the borders of the Palestinian state without the creation of institutions that are strong and accountable, that are able to deliver for their people. And those institutions of the Palestinian state will not be able to flourish without an effort to end the occupation.

And all of it needs the support of the international community and of the region, and so that integrated approach is what we have launched at Annapolis. And I am quite certain that that integrated approach will continue.

I want to say, too, Prime Minister, that the United States recognizes the importance that you attach also to the livelihood of the people of Gaza. We have talked about that today, about the fact that the Authority spends a significant proportion -- I believe more than 50 percent -- of its resources for the people of Gaza. And they and their humanitarian needs will also not be forgotten by international partners like the United States.

And so, I am just delighted to be here in Jenin to see, firsthand, what the Palestinian people are achieving, even under difficult circumstances, even with the difficult tasks. This is a place of hope, this is a place of inspiration. And, ultimately, it is a place from which the Palestinian State will spring forth.

Thank you very much for having me here.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter). Do you think that the new U.S. administration will continue to support the Palestinian Authority and with this - the prevailing situation in the United States would affect the support to the Palestinian Authority?

PRIME MINISTER FAYYAD: There is no reason for us to believe that the incoming U.S. administration will not continue the same level of support and the same approach of the current U.S. administration in terms of supporting us economically and otherwise. But let me also say that we look at this situation pertinent to our own situation, with relying on our own selves. We need to continue exerting our efforts to improve our performance, our institution's capabilities and the ability of our own institutions also to deliver services in a very professional way to the Palestinian people. And also to look at reducing the level of assistance that we rely on from abroad - from the international community.

I'm not talking about immediate end to foreign aid that we receive. But I'm talking about putting the Palestinian Authority on the course of relying on ourselves and if we develop our own policies, as is the case today, if the current United States administration, continue to provide us the level of support, which as I said was unprecedented, about $700 million for this year, I think that this will be available and will continue and we expect that this will also come from other international donors.

The United States today, in light of the assistance that they provided to us, is the bigger donor to us as the Palestinian Authority. We expect that this – that we'll continue to have the need and to receive foreign aid but at the same time we need to work and exert the force in order to reduce the level of reliance and dependency on foreign aid. As I said, the need for foreign aid today is a fact but it's not a policy. As long as we, the Palestinians, think this way and prepare ourselves and our policies to that end and work in order to improve the level of performance and our institution's capabilities, I think that this support will continue to come.

SECRETARY RICE: (Inaudible). I have to say that the support that the parties have had, has had a strong bipartisan basis in the Congress (inaudible). I want to emphasize that I think the American people want to see the Palestinian people living in their own state, and that is a shared goal.

I might just note, too, that what I have seen over the last several years that has been a really important change is in talking with the governor, or the director of the hospital here, or the security chiefs, and certainly the prime minister. There is a spirit of self-sufficiency and accountability among the Palestinian people that is very notable, a desire to do the best that they possibly can to deliver for their own people.

And, therefore, our responsibility, as Americans, or in the international community, is to be a partner, not -- this is not a position of patronage. This is a partnership, because the Palestinians themselves are taking on governing in the right way.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you are focusing on Israel with Tzipi Livni and Benjamin Netanyahu. Did you get the sense that whoever is the next Israeli prime minister, these security programs are going to be continued?

And also another question. Have you told this hospital that the U.S. can do something more for Jenin, for this hospital project here?

And a question for Mr. Fayyad. You -- I wanted to know if you are optimistic. You said that the U.S. is going to continue to help. But are you optimistic that the Annapolis process, as it is –

PRIME MINISTER FAYYAD: (Inaudible) in the form of expectations.

QUESTION: - the Annapolis process - are you optimistic it is going to survive the Bush administration?

SECRETARY RICE: Sylvie,First of all, in terms of the United States' support, as the prime minister said, there has been budget support, there are also numerous other projects that USAID is doing across the West Bank. There is a public-private partnership for Palestinian development that is doing what is one of the projects that I hope to come back and visit, which are centers for youth modeled on, kind of, boys and girls clubs, where youth can go after school and have computer support and the like.

And so, the United States has a broad program of support. And, of course, that is in addition to the very good work that General Dayton has done, in terms of the security forces. So, it's a broad program of support.

In terms of my discussions in Israel, I transmitted very strongly, communicated very strongly, my belief, after a number of years now in working on this issue, that the programs that are in place are programs that are benefiting, first and foremost, Palestinians. But in the accountable government, the competent government that is developing here, is also benefitting Israelis, because security has improved for Palestinians, and it is improving for Israelis, as well. And I think that that is in the interest of -- that, and ultimately, the establishment of a Palestinian state, is in the interest of Israelis, as well as Palestinians.

PRIME MINISTER FAYYAD: Well, again, what has come out of the Annapolis process conference, what started there, a fully integrated approach for looking at things.

And so, to answer your questions of optimism, pessimism, I would not really address it this way. It's not really -- it is a question of necessity. Really, this is not a conflict that is going to end by it being left to us and Israelis to deal with it alone, and somehow find a solution. I do not think that is going to happen.

Unless we have the active support, involvement by the international community, led by the United States, this conflict is going to take much longer trying to resolve if it will be ever resolved. Annapolis provided, conceptually, the framework within which the total issue can be approached in a fully integrated (inaudible). There is a political discussion that has to take place in order to come to agreement on the core issues that form so-called permanent status.

It is also our need to work well and very hard on getting to the point of having our state, actually, which is a key deliverable of this process, a key deliverable of Annapolis, to the point of actually being established.

So, to think that somehow, because there is a change of administration, this work is not going to continue, I think is really expecting too much in the negative direction, and I do not think we should do that. I mean, it is not plausible. I think the importance of this issue is well recognized. The leadership of the United States has been called upon in the past to help with this issue, and will continue to be called upon to help with this issue.

Let me also add that this conflict has spanned the terms of nine U.S. Presidents, and is about to outlast the term of a tenth U.S. President. But I do believe when this issue is resolved, the past few years will have contributed to that in an important way, in an important doctrinal way.

Ending this conflict on the basis of two states -- and I remind everyone that was the program of national consensus on the Palestinian side going back to 1988 -- getting that solution, concept, to be a matter of international consensus is not a small thing. Placing it also in the context of what needs to happen in order for us Palestinians to get to the point of being able to govern ourselves effectively in all (inaudible) of government, is also an important concept.

Placing all of this in the framework of what each of the partners has to do is also a key contribution. Annapolis did that. There has been a failure. If anything, I feel in some important ways it tells of compliance, or lack thereof, as in the case in so far as Israel's obligations under the Roadmap are concerned. If anything, I think the effort should be strengthened and enhanced. There should be a stronger push to ensuring compliance with the requirements, rather than actually disbanding or abandoning this process. To the contrary, I think it makes perfect sense.

But first things first. If we are to go -- to get to where we are going, elements of success -- those elements that are necessary to get us there have to really get the world's utmost attention and full preoccupation.

QUESTION: We heard reports today that Hamas is boycotting the participation in the national dialogue in Cairo because the PA refused to release Hamas prisoners in PA jails in the West Bank?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I chose to come to Jenin because this has been, really, the first major Palestinian city in which the prime minister has brought together international support, security reform and responsibility, and economic development, with the help of the international community.

And, in fact, the dark days of 2002, which I remember with an enormous sense of tragedy for the people of Jenin, of the horrible carnage here, the terrible conditions here, that it could be reborn in this way is, in many ways, an affirmation of the fact that nothing is impossible.

And, in fact, it reminds us that, even though, as Salam said, this conflict has not ended decade after decade after decade, it is possible to end this conflict on the basis of the efforts of the Palestinian and Israeli people to say, "Enough is enough. It is time to have two states living side by side." And I think that Jenin, in its own way, represents exactly that.

In terms of the political process, there is a political process that is taking place between the sides, negotiations are going on. The sides, the two parties, are the ones who requested the meeting of the Quartet, and they will report what they wish to report.

But I suspect that, given that the confidentiality of their discussions has been an important part of what they are doing, because these are extremely sensitive issues, they are the first time that these issues have been addressed in almost a decade, that they will want to maintain some of that confidentiality. But they will undoubtedly report on their progress, and they will report on how they intend to move forward.

PRIME MINISTER FAYYAD: Let me first say a few more words about the overall approach to dealing with this problem, and the necessity – then I will switch to Arabic when addressing the other element (inaudible) of the necessity of pursuing all of these tracks in parallel - all of what came out of Annapolis in parallel. This is important, because if some think that somehow, you know, by just doing what we are doing right now, you know, the conflict is going to end, all of this is necessary. But it is not going to be sufficient to really get us to where we are going.

What we are doing here is building towards statehood, toward ending the occupation and building towards statehood. If nothing else happens, or things do not happen on the other track to make it possible for us to realize that dream of getting to the point of being free, then that is not going to work. And it is going to increasingly be seen as an exercise in improving the quality of occupation. This is not what this exercise is about. This is about ending the occupation, not beautifying it.

So, it is of paramount importance for this process to be approached simultaneously on all of these tracks in order to make any sense. This, of course, imposes a requirement on us, first and foremost, and we're shouldering those responsibilities. Our sense of responsibility is what we have to do, ourselves. That is what inspires the Palestinian Authority now. That is what really explains why it is we have been pursuing all of these initiatives with the greatest vigor. And it is in this sense that I include dealing with our own domestic situation as a key element of what we have to do, going forward.

(Switches to Arabic). Yes, an important part of our responsibility, we as Palestinians, is to work with the biggest challenge and the main concern, which is the end of occupation. And this - in addition to this, initiatives that we have spoken about in terms of building the institutions, also it is important to remember that we need to work on rebuilding and restoring the unity of the homeland.

This is a main goal and a main target of our policy and on this basis we had welcomed the Egyptian efforts, which are supported by our brothers, other Arab countries, in order to help us reach our goal, which is to end the current division and splintering between the two parts of the homeland. And on this basis, we firmly believe that this is also a main goal for our Arab brothers and Arab countries.

This requires us as Palestinians to tackle our own domestic issues and focus on this goal, which is to reunite the homeland, that's why we welcome the Egyptian efforts, and we welcomed the Egyptian paper, which was the result of deliberations and consultations with all the Palestinian factions and was supported simultaneously collectively by all our Arab brothers.

This requires us that we, Palestinians, move forward in order to implement this initiative immediately. This (inaudible) if we were concerned and interested in reuniting our homeland – is to - I think what needs to motivate the Palestinian policies and actions, one is not to procrastinate and not to place prior conditions and terms in order to reach the goal of reuniting the homeland. That's if we were serious.

If there is seriousness we need to leave procrastination aside, reluctance aside, and move forward to implement the initiative. Another issue is that we need to work on the elements of the Egyptian paper and implement them because they are the key to rebuilding – reuniting the homelands and would give further room to discuss the political sphere - political aspects of it in order to either reach common agreement on this or maybe to manage those differences away from violence. This is the goal. I heard the reports that you indicated and I heard different statements. I can't even follow up on them because they are numerous statements. Instead of issuing statements and releasing all about procrastination, delay, reluctance - why do we continue with the delay? In whose benefit or interest this is?

I would like to stress what President Abbas, Abu Mazen, said yesterday. We in the Palestinian Authority have no political detainees. In other words, we as the Palestinian Authority enforce rule of law. We do not make arrests on political backgrounds. We do not detain or arrest a person because of their political affiliation. Yes, we do have detainees but those detainees and those prisoners are arrested because of violations of the law, including security offenses. And I stress again that we do not have political detainees whatsoever. So talking about this issue is basically trying to avoid talking about the core issues.

There is an initiative that Egypt has put forth and now it's up to the factions in order to take their final, and decisive positions. What we call for, again, is to leave aside procrastination and move forward sincerely, towards ending this catastrophic state of division and deal positively with what Egypt has reached with thankful efforts from all other Arab countries.

What we are carrying out in terms of security, I've addressed this today and I've spoken about this previously, that we need to empower and strengthen the Palestinian Authority today. Changing the policies of our security establishment, if this is what they are proposing, this actually leads to weakening the PA. There is a need to pursue the security effort in line with the same policy.

How can we talk about empowering and strengthening the Palestinian Authority and enhancing its esteem and standing, at the same time that the Palestinian Authority would give up its main goal and responsibility to provide law and order and security for the Palestinian citizens? This cannot be straight policy, even talking and addressing and demanding such a change in our policies, is, in addition to what I mentioned, which is avoiding to deal with the core issues, is also aimed at weakening the Palestinian Authority.

And my question is, to whose benefit that is? Weakening the Palestinian Authority is not our goal. If the Palestinian Authority is not strong enough on the ground how can we get to a point where we achieve our goal to end the occupation and build our state. These are two issues that cannot actually meet. And, as I said before, we will stick to our policies and will continue our efforts to strengthen our institutions and our authority to (inaudible) service with the citizens.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, to maintain continuity with the Annapolis process, do you think it would be a wise idea for the next administration to at least set a target date for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement?

And, Prime Minister Fayyad, do you think it would be helpful if the next administration, to resolve the situation in Gaza, should open a dialogue on some level with Hamas, a direct dialogue with Hamas?

SECRETARY RICE: I will give any advice that I have to my successors privately, and then you won't hear from me again. But let me just say that, obviously, when we did the Annapolis process we decided to set an aspirational goal of the end of the year, to make best efforts, I think it said, to resolve the conflict by the end of the year. And I do think that that helped in stimulating a sense of urgency.

Of course, the downside is that many things can intervene. And the political circumstances became quite complicated between the end of the Annapolis conference and where we are today.

And I would just underscore that, in setting aspirational goals -- and, let me tell you, we thought about it. We thought about the fact that, in setting an aspirational goal, we might set up a circumstance where, if that goal was not reached, that if the best efforts didn't reach that goal, that people would say, "The negotiations are over." I think we have managed, despite the fact that it is now difficult to see how that could happen by the end of the year.

We have managed, nonetheless, to maintain momentum in all of the tracks of Annapolis. We have managed to maintain the sense, principally because of the views of the parties, that these negotiations will continue until they result in an end to the conflict and an end to the occupation that began in 1967. So, in that sense, I think we have achieved what we had hoped to achieve in establishing an aspirational goal.

PRIME MINISTER FAYYAD: (Inaudible) engage in giving advice to incoming administration or others, I can tell you about someone who believes in the importance of dialogue, importance of clarity, also -- as to what is required to change the adverse reality that faces us.

That to me, is what's important. And I often said, actually, we didn't get to where we are today for lack of dialogue. I am talking about us Palestinians, now, as I prefer to most of the time, evaluate issues. It's not lack of dialogue. We have plenty of it. What we didn't have enough of is dialogue that is driven by principles of what we know works, what we know does not work.

The first principle amongst those is actual recognition by everyone in the occupied Palestinian Territories that the Palestinian National Authority is home for everybody. It is not a party to anything. As and when this begins to be accepted with all that comes with it by way of requirements of governing the Palestinian people, managing their affairs, I think resolution to our domestic problems would not be difficult.

And as I just said, in answer to another question, we attach a great deal of importance to the dialogue now underway, or about to get underway. I mean, plus preceded by, again, (inaudible) dialogue, getting to the point where we are today. Let's see what happens the next few days. I attach a great deal of importance to that round of discussions to actually be meaningful, to be concluded, to produce something, and for it not to be a dialogue about dialogue, and dialogue about the potential of adding more dialogue.

The needs of the Palestinian people are quite pressing. There is a lot that is at stake: 1.5 million of our people continue to suffer, and the misery index has never been higher. For how much longer can that be allowed to continue while we are still thinking, you know, about modalities for dialogue? It is time to get on with it.

What is on the table is adequate to really get us to the point where we are going. And I believe it is essential to do that, both in order to end the misery I just referred to, but also to put us on a path that is consistent with the need for us to get to that point where we have a Palestinian state. Because, after all, Gaza cannot but be an integral part of that state. Thank you.

ENDS

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