Rice: Obama Made Israeli-Palestinian Peace Less Likely


riceProspects for Israeli-Palestinian peace are far worse today than when she left office, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday, She partly blames the Obama administration’s tough line against Israeli settlement-building for spoiling chances for new talks.

“When you look at where we are now, we’re a long, long way back from where we were,” Rice said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Rice said she had hoped that the Obama administration could revive stalled peace talks quickly when it took office in 2009, but she said she was disappointed by the new administration’s handling of the delicate issue of new Israeli housing construction in the West Bank.

“I do think focusing on settlements in that particular way was a mistake,” Rice said. “The parties then were able to have a reason not to sit down.”

The gulf has only widened, Rice said, “and they’re running out of time.” She did not sound optimistic for a settlement soon, or even for new talks.

“When they’re not talking, they’re sliding backward,” Rice said.

A detailed account of negotiations she helped broker in 2008 is a highlight of Rice’s new memoir of her time in Washington. Published Tuesday, “No Higher Honor” concedes some missteps by the Bush administration on several fronts but strongly defends former President George W. Bush’s efforts toward Mideast peace, and Rice’s own.

“It’s one of the best deals I think you’re going to see,” Rice said of the deal on the table during the waning months of the Bush administration. The deal died when the Palestinians rejected it weeks before Bush left office, she wrote, but she suggested her successors might have been able to use the momentum from those negotiations to keep talks alive.

Rice said she left a record of the intensive negotiations she led in 2008 for the new Obama administration in hopes that a new team of negotiators could pick up where the Israelis and Palestinians had left off.

The U.S. long has opposed new settlements but largely looked the other way at some homebuilding, such as expansion of selected neighborhoods. Rice herself had called settlement building unhelpful and was infuriated when Israel appeared to undercut her by announcing new building licenses hard on the heels of some of her diplomatic visits.

But new Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and her Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, took a much harder line in early 2009, demanding a full freeze on any building.

Obama “wants to see a stop to settlements,” including the expansion of existing developments, Clinton said in May of that year.

With Israelis suspicious of Obama even before he assumed office, the settlement position further unnerved them. The Palestinians, initially encouraged, became disillusioned when the U.S. was unable to persuade Israel to freeze settlement construction.

Rice’s account confirms then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s claim that he had laid out a comprehensive proposal for peace during secret meetings with Rice and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Rice said Abbas ultimately rejected the proposal, for which she said she does not blame him. The Palestinians deny that Abbas did so.

In the book, Rice recounts a private dinner with Olmert in May 2008 when she said he presented the plan.

It contained ways to address the most difficult issues preventing Israel and the Palestinians from agreeing on terms for a separate Palestinian state, she wrote. Olmert proposed a system for shared jurisdiction of Jerusalem and return of a limited number of Palestinians who left their homes in what is now Israel when the Jewish state was created in 1948, Rice wrote.

Olmert also would end the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and hand over about 94 percent of the territory to the Palestinians for the bulk of their state, she wrote.

“Concentrate, concentrate,” Rice describes herself as thinking as Olmert spoke. “This is unbelievable.”

{FM News Chicago/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. The photo of rice is offensive. If you don’t want to show a woman’s photo, show something neutral, don’t make a joke out of her name.

  2. In the middle east peace will never reign before beas hamoshiach! This peace drive is not real. Because you can’t make peace between two people that have no halachic rights to a land. The Israelis have no halachic rights to the land because they dont follow the torah. And Jewish rights and claim to land in Eretz Yisroel is dependant on shmiras hamitzvois. Im bichukosai tailechu e.t.c.. And the arabs claiming rights to the land are total fakes way worse then the Jews who at least have a history here. The arabs belong in Saudia Arabia and so their false claim to the land is totaly untrue. And so any honest leader looking to make peace in the middle east must not ignore these facts. But as proven before, nobody’s really pursuing a agenda of long term peace here. It’s all a ploy and cover up for other issues.

  3. Its hard for me to take a website seriously when they print of picture of rice as the image from the article. What picture would you put there if the article was about Hillary Clinton or some other woman who’s name you can’t play with? I hope its not just me who feels this way…

  4. Rice could be correct about Obama, but seems to have forgotten her own past assignment to try to force Israeli surrender on key points.

    Olmert’s proposal was a surrender, too. That she still defends it is indicative.

  5. It’s impossible not to laugh at Rice given her record at stopping, actually stopping, natural growth in East Jerusalem and worse, stopping Ariel Sharon from putting on its siege against Arafat in the Intifada

    “A furious Condoleezza Rice summoned Israeli Ambassador Danny Ayalon and Sharon’s chief of staff, Dov Weisglass, and rebuked them: …I am telling you, if you do not end this siege [of Yasser Arafat’s om-pound] in Ramallah, if you don’t withdraw your forces from the compound, you are going to have a public rift with this president. This needs to end now. If you and I are having this same conversation a week from now, you are going to have a serious problem in this building, and you’re going to have a serious problem with me.” [end quote Condi]* [ ed; eg. moral equivalency]
    [ * See also Douglas Feith, War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the [Dawn of the War on Terrorism (HarperCollins, 2008), pp. 207-8, 511.
    [ * George W. Bush, as quoted in Bregman, Elusive Peace, p. 239.]
    [Interview with Flynt Leverett, in Bregman, Elusive Peace , p. 241.]

    “U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice: “I’ve made clear that we’re in a time when the goal is to build maximum confidence between the parties, and this doesn’t help to build confidence.”[ ed; eg. moral equivalency]

    January 8, 2008 US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: told The Jerusalem Post that “Har Homa is a settlement the United States has opposed from the very beginning….The United States doesn’t make a distinction between settlement activity in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and (that George Bush Road Map obligations includes a building freeze)


    ** “Settlement activity should stop — expansion should stop,” Rice said at a news conference after meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. [ from Israel Planning to Build Hundreds of New Homes By Griff Witte Washington Post Foreign Service Tuesday, April 1, 2008 Jerusalem, March 31 2008
    “…The announcement of the new construction, the latest in a series of similar projects advanced by Israel in recent months, was likely to anger Palestinians. The issue also elicited criticism from Rice, who called on Israel to stop building in contested territory even before Monday’s announcement. [ ed; eg. moral equivalency]

    “Settlement activity should stop — expansion should stop,” Rice said at a news conference after meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas…….President Bush has said he wants to have a “signed peace treaty” by the time he leaves office next January.Special correspondent Samuel Sockol contributed to this report. [ ed; eg. moral equivalency]

    And now Ed Koch has endorsed Obama in 2012:
    “Whatever rift existed before — and there was — that’s gone,” Mr. Koch said in a telephone interview. He said that he was now ready to go out and make the case to Jewish voters that the president deserved their support.

    Regarding Perry, Koch said ” I said to him ‘Mr. President, that’s the one guy you won’t have to worry about. Jews will never vote for anyone who doesn’t believe in evolution.’ ”

  6. Netanyahu actually did accept a 10 month settlement building freeze during which the PA refused to negotiate and only offered to sit down at the end of the period on condition that Israel extended the freeze!
    Abbas doesn’t really want a just peace, as the aforementioned and his refusal of Olmert’s generous deal show.

  7. This reminds me of the famous comic strip of two mathematicians pounding fists at each other. One has written on his blackboard:


    And the other: