Thursday, March 6, 2008

Secretary Rice responds to the Vanity Fair article

From Secretary of State Condaleezza Rice's March 4, 2008 press conference in Cairo, Egypt:

QUESTION: And for Madame Secretary, Vanity Fair just published a really long article based on U.S. documents, saying that the U.S. Government pressed Mahmoud Abbas to confront Hamas in an arms struggle which the article says led actually to the Hamas takeover of Gaza. Was this indeed the policy of the Bush Administration at the time? And if so, do you think it backfired?

SECRETARY RICE: Now, as to a Vanity Fair article that I have not read, I’m not going to comment on the article. I will say the following: The United States has been very clear about its desire to help in an international effort to improve the security capabilities of the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority is headed by Mahmoud Abbas; and when Mahmoud Abbas has had security chiefs with whom he -- in whom he’s vested authority, the United States has dealt with those security chiefs. Now, the Hamas -- the idea that somehow Hamas has used as an excuse American and international assistance -- because it is not only American assistance -- to the Palestinian Authority to do what Hamas has always done, which is to sow chaos, I think is, on the face of it, fairly ludicrous.

But let me just go back to the point about what the United States is doing. It is very clear that Hamas is being armed and it’s very clear that they’re being armed, in part, by the Iranians. So if the answer is that Hamas gets armed by the Iranians and nobody helps to improve the security capabilities of the legitimate Palestinian Authority security forces, that’s not a very good situation. And I expect therefore that you’re going to continue to see support for the international community, the United States among them, working with the regional states and working with the Palestinians to establish a professional and capable Palestinian security force that can be part of the solution, that can defend a new Palestinian state, that can defend against terrorism, but most importantly that can defend its own people. Because the kind of lawlessness that Palestinians have had to endure in their own homes, in their own streets, in their own neighborhoods, is a concern to the United States, which is why we have been supporting the efforts of Salam Fayyad, for instance, to improve the security situation in Nablus by the deployment of Palestinian security forces there. So that’s what we’re doing, and I can’t comment on an article that I have not read.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

Also See - Vanity Fair: The Gaza Bombshell