November 28th, 2006 03:47 EST
United States Welcomes Israeli Leader's Peace Overture
Says Palestinian troop deployment in northern Gaza would be very positive "
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said November 27 that Olmert`s remarks offered up a political horizon to the Palestinians to negotiate in good faith. "
Earlier in the day, the Israeli leader offered humanitarian and economic incentives conditioned on the cessation of violence and the release of Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped in June.
Olmert`s offer is consistent with demands by the international community that Hamas renounce terrorism and recognize Israel`s right to exist for the Palestinian Authority to receive additional international aid. However, Hamas has yet to agree to those demands, and the United Nations withdrew from a tentative agreement it made with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that established guidelines for a Palestinian unity government after Abbas told the U.N. General Assembly September 22 that the incoming unity government would meet the international community`s requirements. (See related article.)
McCormack said Shalit`s continued captivity, as well as Palestinian rejectionist groups and the Hamas-led Palestinian government`s failure to meet international conditions for political dialogue present obstacles that need to be overcome. "
However, he said unconfirmed reports that has deployed 13,000 security forces to northern Gaza to enforce the cease-fire would be a very positive development. "
We hope that those security forces, as they get in place, would stop " rocket attacks or any terrorist attacks that might be emanating from Gaza, " he said.
The United States has been working with Abbas to strengthen the security forces under his control, believing that a robust, professional, disciplined Palestinian security force " will play an important part in overcoming obstacles such as those presented by rejectionist groups.
U.S. officials also have done what we can " to help both parties think about and work through the various obstacles " in order to resolve their differences through dialogue instead of violence.
A senior State Department official said it is entirely possible " that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will meet separately with Olmert and Abbas, possibly November 30, during her trip to the region.
For more information on U.S. policy, see The Middle East: A Vision for the Future.
(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)