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Rice: Israel and Palestinian Authority must work as partners

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice

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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that the Palestinian Authority and Israel must work as partners to thwart the cycle of violence erupting in Jerusalem and Gaza and vowed that "there is not going to be any pass for Palestinian leadership in fighting terror."

"Do it together," Rice advised Israel and the Palestinians who want to end the bloodshed.

She made her remarks at a meeting of Town Hall Los Angeles in a speech and during a question-and-answer period. Her comments focused on the Middle East and the war against terror, and she reiterated the opinions of President Bush and his administration.

"It is absolutely the case that this president, this government, believe that terror, wherever it is found, wherever it is practiced, has got to be rooted out and destroyed, so there will be no pass," she said.

Rice was asked about Bush's rebuke of Israel for its missile attack on a Hamas leader days after a weekend attack by Hamas and other militants on four Israeli soldiers. Specifically, she was asked how the United States can ask Israel to sit still if the new Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, won't arrest terrorists or dismantle the terror structure.

"It is important that the Israelis and Palestinians realize that they took a different path than they've been on for a number of years," she said. "And that step was to recognize each other as partners in building a Palestinian state, in building a secure Israel and Palestine, and in building a new kind of Middle East, and therefore, as partners, they need to work together from their own resources to get the job done."

The Palestinian leadership, she said, is trying to strengthen security services that "have not been devoted to fighting terror" and have even abetted it in the past.

Palestinians must speak out strongly against terror and "they are going to have to do what they can" as they build their forces.

"Frankly, there are also things that others can do," she added. "The Arab states need, right now, to say that Hamas and other rejectionist organizations, which have said that they intend to destroy the road map, are not speaking for the Arab world."

And Israel, she said, must "recognize consequences" from the way it battles terrorism.

She said Bush remains committed to the course set at last week's summit in Aqaba, Jordan: "The president keeps his promises. He expects all the parties to keep theirs."

Abbas and Sharon both made gestures toward reconciliation at Aqaba, including Abbas' denunciation of terror and Sharon's promise to dismantle unauthorized Jewish settlement outposts.

In the latest violence, Israel launched a new strike on Hamas Thursday, killing a senior Hamas militant and six others in an attack on a car in a Gaza City neighborhood.(Full story)

The action was the third by the Israeli air force within 24 hours and came after a Hamas suicide bomber set off a blast on a bus Wednesday, killing 16 people in Jerusalem.

"This week has seen familiar scenes of bloodshed and violence caused by those who would use terror" to destroy peace moves, Rice said.

Despite the "tragic events" of recent days in Jerusalem and Gaza, Rice said, the Bush administration sees a positive, new chapter in Middle East history, a "real chance to build a future of peace, freedom and opportunity."

She pointed to the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, the acceptance by Israel and the Palestinian Authority of the road map to peace, more support in the Arab and Muslim world for democracy and modernization, and the Bush proposal for a free-trade area in the Middle East.

"The strategic landscape is vastly different than it was a year ago," she said, referring to the time when Bush spoke of a vision for two states, an Israel and a Palestine, living in peace. The ideas he expressed then were the foundation of the road map for peace.

Rice praised the new Palestinian leadership, pointing out that Abbas has said the intifada was a "mistake" and has pledged to work against the violence.

She noted that Sharon said it is in Israel's interests for the Palestinians to govern themselves, and he stressed the importance of territorial contiguity for a Palestinian state.


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