Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Diplomatic Tango continues as polemic encounter reality

Two Allies' Tacks On Hamas Dilemma: "Two Allies' Tacks On Hamas Dilemma
Israel, U.S. Express Degrees of Tough Talk

By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 9, 2006; A16

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni struck quite a tableau as they met yesterday with reporters in the ornate Benjamin Franklin Room of the State Department -- two influential and relatively young female diplomats. Together, they urged the emerging Palestinian government led by Hamas to recognize Israel and renounce violence.
At the end of the news conference, when a reporter asked what happens after a Hamas government is formed, Livni forcefully answered that the Palestinian Authority would be a state 'led by terrorists' and would need to be cut off by the international community. Rice did not answer and ended the news conference by shaking Livni's hand. But, earlier, Rice had said: 'We await the outcome of the government formation process because that will tell the tale of what is possible.'
The exchange illustrated the dilemma facing both the Israeli and U.S. governments. Israel is desperately trying to hold together an international consensus that a Hamas-led government is unacceptable, fully aware that, as the shock of the election result wears off, there will be pressure to work with the Palestinian government and provide assistance to the Palestinian people. Livni, who spent almost an hour one-on-one with Rice yesterday, has urgently made the case that the international community must hold the line both publicly and privately.
The Bush administration also talks tough, but it is unsure of its next move. For the moment, the administration says it supports the 'caretaker government' of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during "

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