US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice denied that America has nixed Israeli talks with Syria, but still appeared to throw cold water on the idea when questioned about it Tuesday.

“My understanding is that it’s the view of the Israelis and certainly our view that the Syrians are engaged in behavior right now that is destabilizing to the region,” she said. “But it’s not a view that there shouldn’t be such a track. When it’s ready, it should be.”

Rice’s comments implied that current conditions are not ripe even as discussion in Israel over whether to respond to Syrian overtures has intensified.

She was speaking en route to Germany with reporters, one of whom had asked about Israeli debate over moving away from the Palestinian track to focus on Syria.

“There’s no substitute for trying to get to the place where the Palestinians finally have their state, and the Israelis finally have a neighbor who can live in peace and security with them,” Rice said, describing that situation as “at the core of a lot of problems in the region.”

She described the Israeli-Palestinian track as something that “unlocks the key” to Israeli engagement with the broader Arab world.


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