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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Fiasco pour Condoleezza Rice

by By Pierre Barbancey

Palestine: Condoleezza’s Fiasco

Translated by John O’Neil

Translated Monday 27 February 2006, by John O’Neil

Condoleezza’s fiasco

The Middle East. The Arab nations are refusing, uncharacteristically, to follow American orders concerning the Palestinians.

American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s Middle Eastern tour to urge the countries of the region to oppose Iran and to block all aid to the Palestinians turned out to be a fiasco.

With her usual arrogance, she was intending to simply give the instructions from Washington that the Arab nations would carry out. Unfortunately for her, the Arab nations didn’t simply acquiesce.

In Cairo, she came up against the Egyptian government’s refusal to isolate Hamas politically and financially. While she was reaffirming that the Palestinian Islamist movement had to choose between "the camp of terror" and "the camp of politics", Egyptian foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, judged it preferable to "give Hamas time."

The same thing happened in Saudi Arabia where her Saudi counterpart, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, effectively informed her that Riyadh would continue to give financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA), even with a Hamas-led government.

"We do not want to link international aid to the Palestinian people with considerations other than their terrible humanitarian needs", the Prince declared during a joint press conference with the Secretary of State.

Rice reiterated the US position: The United States is conscious of the Palestinians’ humanitarian needs, she affirmed, restating that the American government cannot legally finance Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by both the US and the European Union.

Washington has asked the Palestinian Authority to return $50 million in aid slated for infrastructure projects. According to a senior State Department official, Condoleezza Rice had informed her Egyptian and Saudi interlocutors that the whole sum could be "redirected to humanitarian needs instead of infrastructure."

Prince Saud rejected this position. "How do you want to distinguish between humanitarian and non-humanitarian aid?" the chief Saudi diplomat asked. "They need both infrastructure and humanitarian aid. That’s why we are going to continue to help them,” he added.

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