As long as Iran funds Hamas, the United States will back security funding for the Palestinian Authority, Condoleezza Rice said.
The U.S. secretary of state, on a swing through the Middle East to bolster the faltering Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, was responding to an article in Vanity Fair that contended that a U.S.-led effort to arm the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip led to last summer’s civil war there between Hamas and Fatah and competing Palestinian governments in Gaza and the West Bank.
Rice dismissed the thesis Tuesday at a news conference in Egypt.
“The idea that somehow Hamas has used as an excuse American and international assistance – because it is not only American assistance – to the Palestinian Authority to do what Hamas has always done, which is to sow chaos, I think is, on the face of it, fairly ludicrous,” she said.
Rice said it is clear that Hamas is being armed in part by Iran.
“So if the answer is that Hamas gets armed by the Iranians and nobody helps to improve the security capabilities of the legitimate Palestinian Authority security forces, that’s not a very good situation,” she said. “And I expect therefore that you’re going to continue to see support for the international community, the United States among them, working with the regional states and working with the Palestinians to establish a professional and capable Palestinian security force that can be part of the solution, that can defend a new Palestinian state, that can defend against terrorism, but most importantly that can defend its own people.”
The Vanity Fair article lacks a smoking gun to bolster its contention that the Bush administration sought an armed confrontation between P.A. moderates and Hamas, although it uncovers a 2006 memo showing that the State Department pressed Mahmoud Abbas, the P.A. president, to sack the Hamas-led Cabinet if it continued to reject prior peace deals with Israel.