Rice Lauds Change in Middle East: Diplomat praises moves toward peace, pluralism and those who publicly reject extremism. In Jidda, she opens a new dialogue with Saudis. (Tyler Marshall and Laura King, November 14, 2005, LA Times)

Political change across the Middle East, including a perceptible backlash against terrorism, has opened a window of opportunity to end the decades-old dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said here Sunday. […]

Rice arrived in Jerusalem after meeting earlier in the day with officials in Jidda, Saudi Arabia. Those talks focused on strengthening troubled U.S. relations with a crucial Arab ally that the Bush administration is trying to nudge toward a more open political system.

In her speech in Jerusalem, Rice argued that Israel’s recent withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the wide acceptance in Israel that an independent, peaceful Palestinian state was essential to Israeli security also created the opportunity for peace. But she set out conditions for both sides if the elusive goal was to be achieved.

“Now, if Palestinians fight terrorism and lawless violence and advance democratic reforms, and if Israel takes no actions to prejudice a final settlement and works to improve the daily lives of Palestinian people, the possibility of peace is both hopeful and realistic,” she said.

A Palestinian state and a representative government in Saudi Arabia just douse two more of the embers fueling extremism.

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