Looks like Condoleezza Rice may not be the most powerful secretary of state the U.S. has ever had. The Associated Press notes a particular irony -- hours after Rice finished her latest trip to the region, Israel appeared to thumb its nose at Rice and the peace process with the announcement that it will commence further building on disputed land.
At a press conference Monday, Rice told reporters, "Settlement activity should stop -- expansion should stop." And of the peace process, Rice said, "I think it's all moving in the right direction."
But new expansion was announced Monday. According to the AP, "Jerusalem's city hall announced it would build 600 new apartments in Pisgat Zeev, a Jewish neighborhood in the eastern sector of the city. Soon after, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish party said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised to build 800 additional homes in one of Israel's largest West Bank settlements, Betar Illit."
The AP reports the account of a Palestinian negotiator who says Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas specifically identified Israeli settlement as "the most dangerous obstacle to peace."