U.S. secretary of state Condoleeza Rice is visiting the West Bank underlining Washington’s support for President Mahmoud Abbas and making a renewed push for Israeli-Palestinian peace. She has already met with Israeli leaders during her four day Mideast trip in an effort to gain support for a proposed peace conference later this year. Rice has called for more intensive dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians. The Bush administration has promised sixty-three million Euros to support and reform Abbas’s security forces.
Rice’s visit comes at a time when the Palestinian territories are divided between Islamist hamas and Abbas’s secular Fatah. Hamas forces are in control of the Gaza strip while Fatah forces dominate the west Bank. Abbas would like to negotiate socalled “final status” issues with Israel ont the future of Jerusalem, the borders of a future Palestinian state and the right of return of refugees.