Remarks at Conference in Support of Palestinian Civil Security and Rule of LawSecretary Condoleezza Rice
June 24, 2008
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much Frank-Walter, I'm really honored to represent the United States at this very important conference andobviously, the support for Palestinian institutions of security and justice is essential to achieving our vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.
This is, indeed, an important conference as we move to try and achieve what we started at Annapolis. And I would first like to thank Chancellor Merkel for your initiative in putting this conference together and to Tony Blair for his leadership in co-hosting this important event. And thank you again, Frank, for the wonderful arrangements here in Germany.
The German people, the German government, the European Union, are all steadfast partners and good friends to the Palestinian people and the lead here in helping them to build honorable institutions, particularly security institutions, is greatly appreciated.
The EU has already provided valuable assistance to the Palestinian Authority’s civil police via EUPOL COPPS police training missions and we’re grateful to the EU’s commitment to expanding that.
I'd like to thank my colleague Tzipi Livni for being here, as well as other members of the Quartet. It’s good to see you here, Sergei. We all have a lot of work to do, but I think that we all should stay focused on the work to do. I know that there is a tendency sometimes toward pessimism in the ups and downs of the Middle East. There is always a question of whether it is time to do something in the Middle East, is the time right, is the situation not complicated? And my answer is always: when has the situation in the Middle East not been complicated? In fact, if we wait for an uncomplicated time, we will never achieve anything in the Middle East. And so, we need simply to work as hard as we possibly can.
I’d like to thank also, the members of the Arab League and Amr Moussa for being here, because the support of the regional states - of the Arab states - is essential to this process.
Security and the rule of law represent the foundations of any successful, responsible state, and such institutions will better enable the Palestinians to fight terrorism, maintain law and order, and provide opportunity for their people.
I've been very impressed by the efforts of President Mahmoud Abbas and especially the government of Salam Fayyad in their efforts to build the institutions of their Palestinian state even as an end to the occupation that began in 1967 and an end to the conflict are being negotiated.
The United States is committed to supporting these efforts to strengthen the security sector that the PA is undertaking. To date, we have invested $86 million to train and equip the national security forces and the Presidential Guard, and we’ve requested $100 million more from Congress for fiscal years 2008 and 2009 to contribute to this program.
This training program has made the Palestinian security forces more willing and able to conduct security operations in the West Bank as we saw recently in successful Jenin operations. And this progress must be matched by similar improvements in civil police and criminal justice institutions. We’re pleased that the PA’s leadership recognizes the importance of coupling a strong security apparatus with transparent and fair institutions of governance.
Every link in what we call the chain of security must be intact and unbreakable. To feel invested in a future state, Palestinians must have confidence that their police, courts and penal system are dedicated to upholding the rule of law and respecting human rights. So it is especially important that the PA’s courts, prisons and police infrastructure, receive assistance to firmly establish civil institutions as the guardians of law and order.
The Palestinian Authority has put together a comprehensive list of projects that must be funded for the criminal justice sector to succeed. We urge the countries here to support and implement these projects as quickly as possible. Because of the interrelated nature of the criminal justice sector, it is crucial for the donor community to take on all the projects that the PA has identified. Neglecting any one could jeopardize the entire effort. We encourage donors to commit new pledges and to allocate uncommitted funds from existing pledges to support this effort.
Again, President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad and the Palestinian Authority are working courageously to build a functioning state, dedicated to peace and security, but they cannot succeed without the international community’s support. They cannot succeed without Israel’s cooperation.
Our commitments here in support of the Palestinian people and the rule of law will aid the emergence of a functioning Palestinian state. They will support conditions for economic growth and social progress. And ultimately, they will lay the foundation of a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. This is a peace that, frankly, has been too long in coming because the Palestinian people have waited too long for the state that will afford them the dignity that any people deserve, and the Israelis have waited too long for the security that a peaceful and democratic neighbor will bring them.
Thank you very much.
Released on June 24, 2008