Israel has right to defend against rocket attacks: Cheney

March 23rd, 2008 - 8:03 am ICT by admin  

Jerusalem, March 23 (DPA) US Vice President Dick Cheney Saturday vowed that Washington would never push Israel on security issues, and said Israel had the right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Palestinian militants. In remarks after meeting Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert, Cheney said that the US commitment to Israel’s security and defence against terrorism was “unshakeable”.

“The US will never pressure Israel to take steps that threaten its security,” Cheney said.

Cheney restated US President George W. Bush’s commitment to “his vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security”.

Cheney noted that pursuit of peace involves sacrifice, citing the history of Israel and adding: “I have no doubt that this is equally the case with Palestinians.”

“Reaching the necessary agreement will require tough decisions and painful concessions by both sides, but America is committed to moving the process forward,” Cheney said.

The US vice president will be meeting Sunday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Ramallah in the West Bank.

“We want to see a resolution to the conflict, an end to the terrorism that has caused so much grief to Israelis, and a new beginning for the Palestinian people,” Cheney said.

Israel is Cheney’s last stop on a 10-day journey through the Middle East that has included stops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On Friday in Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia urged Cheney to pressure Israel to seal a peace deal with the Palestinians before Bush leaves office in January 2009.

The US has admonished both Israel and the Palestinians that the peace process was unsustainable without improvements from either side, and Cheney’s trip is seen as an attempt to move along the talks.

The first talks in seven years have stalled because of the flare up of violence in recent weeks between the Israeli military and Palestinian Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has criticized Israeli plans to build new settlements in occupied portions of the West Bank as violations of the so-called roadmap to piece charted by the US, Russia, the UN and the European Union.

The Palestinians have said they will not resume negotiations until Israel declares an end to settlement activity.

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