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Incoming Secretary Rice Quized on Geneva Accords

Americans For Peace Now, 19.01.05

Americans For Peace Now
On January 18-19 the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee held a confirmation
hearing for Secretary of State-designate
Condoleezza Rice. Below are Middle East-
related excerpts from that hearing:
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE)
HAGEL: ...What do you and the president
envision as a new role or a different role
for the United States now as a result of the
Palestinian elections? For example, are you
contemplating a special envoy? How are we
going to engage more deeply and widely than
we have in the past? Or are we going to?
Give this committee some sense of where
we're going in the next year.
RICE: We all believe, and most especially
the president, that we have a
really good opportunity here, given the
election of a new Palestinian
leader, and given the Israeli Gaza
withdrawal plan, which is linked to the West
Bank through the four settlements that would
be dismantled in the West Bank as well. We
think this is a moment of opportunity. That
means that there is going to have to be
engagement at all levels. I expect, myself,
to spend an enormous amount of effort on
this activity. I can't substitute for the
parties and their willingness to take on
their responsibilities, and that's the
message that we have to keep sending. We've
had to note that how hard this road is going
to be was in evidence during this last few
days. And we've pressed very hard for the
Palestinians to take on terrorism because
we're not going to get very far if there is
terrorism from the Palestinian militants.
But you can be sure that we will have very
active engagement because we think this is a
time of responsibility. I think I need to,
for the time being, demure on the question
of a special envoy. No one has objections in
principle to the idea of an envoy, but it is
a question of
whether that is appropriate to a particular
point in time in the process that we're
involved in.
HAGEL: But as secretary of state, you intend
to be very engaged with
considerable activity as we go forward?
RICE: Absolutely. Because, Senator, I think
we can afford to miss this
opportunity if the parties themselves are
willing to really take advantage of the
Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-RI)
CHAFEE: ... in your opening statement you
talked about, America seeks justice and
dignity in a viable independent democratic
state for the Palestinian people. Can you
expand at all on viable ? What do you see as
a viable Palestinian state?
RICE: Well, there are several ways to think
about viability. One is that it has to have
territory that makes it viable. It cannot be
territory that is so broken up that it can't
function as a state, and I think that that's
now well understood. Has to have economic
viability. And there it probably needs to
have economic viability in relationship to
other states around it: to Jordan, to Israel
and to others. And viability also comes from
democratic institutions. One of the things
that I think we didn't pay enough attention
to in the past is the development of
democratic institutions in the Palestinian
At a time when we are promoting the progress
of democracy in the Middle East, the
Palestinians are a people who should be able
to adopt those habits and take them up. They
are a talented, in many ways educated
population, a population that has tried,
even under very limited circumstances, to
have some at least pluralism in their
politics. And so viability, I think, also
has a political or democracy dimension that
we need to pay attention to.
CHAFEE: I'm sure that many Palestinian
moderates would like to hear more specifics
on what might constitute a viable
Palestinian state. Are we looking at
something, perhaps, along the Geneva Accord
RICE: Well, as the president said when he
met with Prime Minister Sharon back in, I
think, May, we have to recognize that the
parties are going to determine their
borders; that it is not for us to prejudge
what those borders might be. There has been
a lot of negotiation. I think they will need
to look at what has been looked at before.
But the June 24th, 2002, speech really
focused on some fundamentals to get us to
the place that discussions of final status
would be successful. And those fundamentals
now seem to be starting to come into place.
The new Palestinian leadership -- I think a
Palestinian leadership that, at least in
word, is devoted to fighting terror. It
needs to be in in deed as devoted to
fighting terror. An international community
that whenever I talk to people, is quite
devoted to and taken with the idea of
helping the Palestinians to build those
democratic institutions, to reconstruct
economically in areas which Israel leaves.
We have in Israel a new coalition that was
built around the idea that Israel will
disengage from the Gaza and from the four
settlements in the West Bank. And we now
really -- I'd just like to mention the
neighbors. The Arab states have
responsibilities here, too. And they can't
incite violence against Israel on the one
hand and call for peace and a two- state
solution on the other. And so, we've got
work to do with them. But as the
fundamentals are beginning to come into
place, everyone can be certain that it is a
very high priority to seize this moment to
try and push toward the day when we have
interlocutors who can work on the final
status issues.
CHAFEE: In the news today some are calling
upon the new Palestinian leadership to be
more proactive against some of the violence
which is occurring within their own ranks.
The previous Palestinian leadership did not
intend to do that under Yasser Arafat; the
danger being that once Palestinians take up
arms amongst themselves, you could have
Palestinian civil war. How do you look --
how do we go forward with that dilemma?
RICE: Well, I do believe that Abu Mazen made
a good start in what he said, which is that
there really is no route to a Palestinian
state through violence. And that means that
he is appealing, to my mind correctly, to
those Palestinians who realize that the use
of terror techniques, the use of violence is
not going to result in the fulfillment of
their national aspirations. Having said
that, the people who insist on violence and
insist on terrorism have got to be isolated
and ultimately disarmed. The Palestinians
are fond of saying there has to be one
authority, one gun. We can help with that,
because the restructuring of the Palestinian
security forces is something that we have
helped with in the past and should now with
other neighbors, like Egypt or Jordan, be
helping with in the future. The construction
of unified Palestinian security forces that
are accountable to the Palestinian
leadership and are not, in effect, armed
gangs is probably one of our most important
tasks. So I don't see it as a matter of
civil war, but rather as a matter of the
isolation of those who are unwilling to
pursue the aspirations of the Palestinian
people through peaceful means.
Senator John Sununu (R-NH)
SUNUNU: Do you intend to recommend a
financial assistance package for the new
Palestinian leadership to restructure their
security forces? And is it likely that that
request would be part of a supplemental
budget early in the year?
RICE: Thank you, Senator. I will look with
others when I get to State at precisely how
we might fund the obligations that I'm sure
we're going to have to undertake to help the
Palestinians in this important period of
time. Clearly, the training of the security
forces is going to be critical. They've got
to fight terrorism. They've got to have
trained security forces to do it. It will be
a good investment to train those forces. I
would just note that we have, through
indirect assistance, through the United
Nations, through nongovernmental
organizations, provided a good deal of
funding to Palestinian reconstruction,
Palestinian humanitarian needs. We also have
-- the president approved the funding of
$20 million in direct support to the
Palestinians just recently to help with
their election. So there is a fund flow, and
we will look at what more we need. I would
hope that some of this would be funded by
their Arab neighbors. I have to say that if
people really want a peace, if the countries
in the neighborhood, as they come and tell
me and they come in to tell the president,
they tell Secretary Powell all the time, We
have got to have peace; you've got to work
on behalf of the Palestinians, then there
are a number of their neighbors who could
really afford to help fund some of these
efforts. And I'm sure that I will be
actively seeking their support, because that
is one thing that the neighbors could do for
the Palestinian people.
SUNUNU: Well, that was my second question,
is what can the Arab states do to help.
Obviously, with $45 or $50 a barrel oil, the
economies there and the revenue base there
is much stronger than it has been in past
years. Is there any specific role that you
see for the Arab states in addition to
financial resources? One of the issues that
was raised in some of our meetings were
perhaps the opportunity to assist in the
training of the security forces. And let me
be clear, there are two different steps to
this. One is restructuring the security
forces, which will take resources and
funding in and of itself, and a lot of
political will. And then the second step
would be the training of security forces. Is
there a particular partner in the region
that you think might be best suited to that
training role?
RICE: Yes, it appears to me that both the
Egyptians and the Jordanians will probably
have a role to play. They've played that
role before in various ways. And we have had
extensive conversations with them, at other
times, about playing that role at the
conference in Aqaba. And we would want to
get them involved. The Egyptians, of course,
also have a role to play in helping
stabilizing the Gaza, as the Israeli forces
withdrawal. And we have talked with them
about that. There are other roles that we
need the Arab states to play. And I think
the most important is, as I mentioned
earlier, you can't insight hatred against
Israel and say you want a two-state
solution. It's just got to stop. They've got
to stop it in their media. They've got to
stop it in their mosques, because it is a
message that is inciting the people who want
to destroy the chances for peace between
Israel and Palestine -- a Palestinian
territory. So we sent that message. And it
was probably little noticed, but when we
went to Sharm el-Sheikh, the Arabs actually
issued a very good statement. And it was on
behalf of Arab states, the Arab League, and
it was a very good statement. We will be
going back to them to remind them of that
statement and to ask them to live up to it.
SUNUNU: In addition to the value of that
statement, I would mention that one of the
things that came up, time and again, was the
impact that your visit had on the area and
the importance of that kind of high-level
engagement. I know you answered some
questions with regard to a special envoy.
It's something that you have supported in
concept. But I would just underscore the
value of that high-level engagement, whether
it's through a special envoy or your
personal commitment.