Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations committee Wednesday that Israeli building in the E1 corridor between Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim was an act "that would contravene American policy." At the same time, Rice pointed out that at the present time, the more important issue was Israel's "historic move" in withdrawing from the Gaza strip. "We can't lose sight of the historic change that has taken place, that the Palestinians are actually now in control of the Gaza [Strip]. Let's remember that the Israelis took a historic decision to actually leave", Rice told Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), who questioned her on Israeli settlement activity. "We have told the Israelis in no uncertain terms that [settlement in the E1 area] would contravene American policy," Rice added. Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Washington Wednesday accompanied by the Palestinian Finance Minister Salem Fayad and by Foreign Minister Nasser Al-Qidwa. He was expected to have a working dinner with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

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