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Published:June 16th, 2007 14:03 EST
 Palestinian President Abbas Gets Support from Condoleezza  Rice

Palestinian President Abbas Gets Support from Condoleezza Rice

By SOP newswire

Washington – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to declare a state of emergency and dissolve the unity government June 14.

“President Abbas has exercised his lawful authority as the president of the Palestinian Authority, as the leader of the Palestinian people," Rice told reporters in Washington.  “[W]e fully support him and his decision to try and end this crisis of the Palestinian people and to give them an opportunity … to return to peace and a better future."

Abbas’ decision comes after days of fierce fighting in Gaza between Fatah forces loyal to the president and Hamas militants loyal to Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.  In recent days, Hamas militants have laid siege to Fatah strongholds across the Gaza Strip and blown up the headquarters of Fatah’s Preventative Security Forces in Khan Yunis.

Prior to Abbas’ move, Fatah and Hamas were joined in a unity government under the terms of an agreement brokered by Saudi Arabia in February. 

Earlier on June 14, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack characterized the violence as an attempt by extremists to short-circuit debate within the Palestinian political system.

He said Rice had spoken with President Abbas and expressed U.S. support for him.  The United States will continue to work with those Palestinians who have been advocates for peace, McCormack said. 

“That choice has been challenged by those individuals in Gaza who have attacked the legitimate security forces of the Palestinian Authority, who have in a premeditated way decided that they are going to try to extinguish the hopes of the Palestinian people for their own state," he said.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

By David Shelby
USINFO Staff Writer