Israel tells Rice peace deal hinges on security
(Reuters) - Israeli leaders told U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Sunday that any deal Washington hoped to broker for a Palestinian state would not be implemented until Israel's security was assured.
Rice, on her third visit in six weeks to the region, is trying to bridge gaps between both sides ahead of a U.S.-hosted conference expected in the last week of November in Annapolis, Maryland, although no official date has been announced.
Israel and the Palestinians are still at odds over a joint document for the conference, which would serve as a launch pad for negotiations on core issues such as borders and the fate of Jerusalem and millions of Palestinian refugees.
Israel has insisted that any future agreement be put into effect only after the Palestinians met their obligations under a U.S.-backed peace "road map" charting reciprocal steps towards statehood.
The 2003 blueprint requires Palestinians to crack down on militants and for Israel to halt the expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and remove dozens of outposts set up without Israeli government permission.
"They (the Palestinians) need to understand that the implementation of future understandings would be implemented only according to the phases of the road map -- the meaning is security for Israel first and then the establishment of a Palestinian state," Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told reporters, with Rice at her side.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who will see Rice on Monday, said in a speech in the West Bank city of Ramallah that Palestinians had abided by 90 percent of the road map requirements and now " Israel must do its part".
Abbas's Fatah faction holds sway only in the West Bank after losing control of the Gaza Strip to Hamas Islamists in fighting in June.