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.