Rice Seeks Resumption of Mideast Talks

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Israel Tuesday following a five-hour visit to Egypt.

The secretary of state is expected to address security arrangements at the border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

In January, after Hamas operatives blew up a portion of the concrete barrier at the Rafah border crossing, thousands of Palestinians crossed into Egypt.

Rice will also try to convince Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his government to reopen negotiations with Israel.

On Sunday, the PA suspended the talks because of Israel's counter-terror operations in Gaza in which 100 Palestinians were killed.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of General Staff Lt.-General Gabi Ashkenazi said of the 100 fatalities, 90 were armed Palestinian gunmen.

Palestinians sources claimed a much higher loss of civilian life.

On Monday, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana that while the military operations in Gaza were meant to halt the daily rocket barrages on southern Israeli communities, they were also intended to weaken Hamas' military strength and political hold in the Strip.

"Those who control Gaza are responsible for what happens there," Livni said. "We will not play by their rules. We will change the game whereby they decide when to attack, when to stop and for how long. We will decide when to stop our actions. That the soldiers left Gaza today is not the end of our activity against terror in Gaza, which will continue," she said.

"We need to attack infrastructure, the places where weapons are made, and the terrorists themselves," the foreign minister said.

"No one has an interest in Hamas' success except for Iran, Syria and Hezbollah," Livni said, referring to Sunday's briefing to Israeli Cabinet members by IDF head of military intelligence, Major General Amos Yadlin.

Meanwhile on Monday morning, White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the U.S. held Hamas responsible for the situation in Gaza.

"The number one thing that has to happen is that Hamas has got to stop targeting Israeli citizens with rockets," Johndroe said Monday.

"We obviously don't want any innocent citizens [in Gaza] to lose their lives, but I think that started with these rockets that have been fired from Gaza into Israel…killing and injuring Israeli citizens in some of their bigger cities," he said.

Sources: The Jerusalem Post, The Associated Press, Harretz, YNet news service 

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