Rice assures Abbas of US support in Gaza fighting

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday to "underline the United States' support" for him and his allies in the intra-Palestinian fighting. Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the call essentially "was to talk to him about the current situation, the situation as he saw it, and to underline the United States' support for [Chairman] Abbas, for the Palestinian moderates who have made the commitment to working with the Israeli government and working with countries around the world on the issue of peace in the Middle East." He said their choice to work toward peace "has been challenged by those individuals in Gaza who have attacked the legitimate security forces of the Palestinian Authority, who have, in a premeditated way, decided that they are going to try to extinguish the hopes of the Palestinian people for their own state." Abbas declared a state of emergency and fired Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of the Hamas movement. Abbas also dismantled the Hamas-Fatah coalition government and said he would form a new government. It was unclear whether he acted before or after Rice's telephone call.