Rice Calls for Palestinian State

The United States has, more explicitly than before, called for a Palestinian state.

Saying the time is now for a Palestinian state, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Monday prodded Israel and the Palestinians to agree at a U.S.-sponsored conference this fall on how and when to start formal peace talks.

In one of her strongest statements yet on the issue, Rice declared that creation of a Palestinian state is a key U.S. interest and urged the two sides to drop contentious demands and reach consensus on a substantive joint statement ahead of the international conference. “Frankly, it’s time for the establishment of a Palestinian state,” Rice told a news conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who she saw on the second of a four-day intense Middle East shuttle diplomacy mission. “The United States sees the establishment of a Palestinian state and a two-state solution as absolutely essential for the future, not just of Palestinians and Israelis but also for the Middle East and indeed to American interests,” she said.

This position would have gotten any leader in either of our two parties pilloried and been dismissed as an absolute non-starter even a decade ago. That a Republican administration, let alone one whose steadfast backing of Israel has drawn substantial fire, is saying this so publicly and unconditionally is quite remarkable, indeed.

UPDATE: Commenters have noted that this is a logical progression from the 1993 Oslo Accords and the 2000 Camp David Summit. That’s true, of course, but this strikes me as fundamentally different in two respects. First, it explicitly acknowledges a Palestinian state — not mere “autonomy” — as the end state. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it makes that, not something abstract like “peace,” the starting point of negotiations.

Previous talks held out implicit hope of Palestinian statehood but made it something that would be discussed once a series of very difficult interim steps were achieved. This puts it front and center.

FILED UNDER: General, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. bob in fl says:

    This position would have gotten any leader in either of our two parties pilloried and been dismissed as an absolute non-starter even a decade ago.

    James, perhaps you have forgotten the Camp David talks near the close of the Clinton Administration. As I recall it, the deal was all but final when Arafat walked out of the talks. I don’t recall any moaning & groaning until Arafat walked out. Did I miss something?

    I gotta say, though, I had a WTF moment when I heard this news earlier today. Either Condi knows something the rest of us don’t, or she is really sticking her neck out there a mile with this. We shall see . . .

  2. Tano says:

    James,

    Everyone understood, at least as far back as the Oslo Accords, that the eventual solution would include a Palestinian state. Granted it was politically incorrect for American politicians to say so explicitly, at least until Camp David, but it was hardly an “absolute non-starter” a decade, or more, ago.

    And what on earth is remarkable about any American administration, in 2007, talking about what Clinton almost achieved 7 years ago? The only remarkable thing is that it to this administration so long to finally decide to deal with the issue.

  3. anjin-san says:

    If Rice had even a shred of credibility it might mean something…

  4. DC Loser says:

    Well, it’s better late than never. Remember this is the same Sec State that made the “Birth pangs of democracy” observations a year ago as the IAF was leveling most of West Beirut and everything south of the Litani. This declaration is merely a reflection of the political realities on the ground. We are trying to stave off the establishment of a de facto independent and hostile Palestinian state in Gaza, coupled with another hostile state in Lebanon headed by Hizbollah. This is an attempt to legitimize the Fatah PA government on the West Bank, and to de-legitimize those that are anti-Fatah.