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March 5, 2008
Abbas Rebuffs Rice Pleas to Restart Peace Talks
On the heels of Israel's incursion into Gaza to destroy launching sites for Kassam rockets, US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice paid a visit to several Middle East capitols trying to jump start the peace process.
But Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was having none of it:
Palestinian leaders on Tuesday rebuffed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's efforts to kick-start peace talks as Israel warned that more violence may be just over the horizon. It is not likely that Rice will "assuage Palestinian anger" no matter what she says. And with Hamas and Fatah in a state of virtual civil war, it is hard to see exactly who Israel should be negotiating with.
Rice returned to the Middle East on a 32-hour diplomatic damage-control mission to keep alive the Bush administration's hopes of brokering a peace deal by year's end. Peace talks skidded to a halt on the eve of Rice's arrival after an exceptionally bloody Israeli military campaign in the Gaza Strip that left more than 110 people dead.
Standing alongside Rice after talks Tuesday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas politely ignored her public prodding to resume negotiations with Israel.
During stops in Cairo, Egypt, and Ramallah, West Bank, Rice sought to assuage Palestinian anger over the Israeli operation by publicly, though politely, chiding Israel.
Until Hamas learns that launching rockets at innocent Israelis is not the way to peace, the Jewish state will have no choice but to defend itself and its citizens from the predations of terrorists and murderers. And if that involves a full scale invasion of Gaza to destroy the striking power of Hamas, so be it.