The Bush administration will pursue peace between Israel and the Palestinians until its final days, a top official said.
The talks are “actively being worked by the administration and would expect you’ll see us working it very hard until the final days of the administration,” John Negroponte, the deputy secretary of state, said in an interview Sunday on PBS in listing the administration’s priorities in its final months.
President Bush is about to deliver a final push to the negotiations, touring Israel and attending a summit in Egypt next month.
Palestinian and Israeli negotiators “meet frequently, almost several times a week,” Negroponte said. “So that’s one important area of activity. Another is, of course, our efforts to hold the parties, that is to say, Israeli and the Palestinians’ feet to the fire with respect to the road map implementing the road map, and we have intensified our efforts in that area such as, for example, bolstering the Palestinian security forces.”
Bush first outlined the road map peace plan, involving a freeze in Israeli settlement and an end to Palestinian terrorism, in 2002.
Negroponte added: “And then we are working with the Arab countries, the countries in the region, to try to ensure their support for the process.”
He reiterated the Bush administration’s opposition to former President Jimmy Carter’s recent attempts to involve in negotiations Hamas, the terrorist group controlling the Gaza Strip.
“We had counseled him against doing this, and we didn’t think it was a good idea,” he said. “In any event, what’s done is done.”