Exclusive: Condoleezza Rice Hopeful for Mideast Peace

Rice said the decision to hold the conference now, in the last year of the Bush administration, is not out of concern for its legacy.

"I can tell you, there are a lot easier ways to get a legacy than to try to end a conflict that is now 60 years old, that people have tried to end repeatedly over time and have never been able to do it. But we're doing it because we think it's the right thing to do. We're doing it because we think it's the right thing to do for Palestinians and Israelis, for the region and, frankly, for American security as well.

"And when I sat there yesterday and I looked around, and I saw the Palestinians, now really anxious to try to build a state, and I saw the Israelis wanting the Palestinians to have their state, I thought: What a difference from 2001, when the president fist talked about a Palestinian state and made it a matter of American policy. … I thought, 'We've worked at this the right way.' And now we've got a chance. So let's try to make it happen.

"Everybody is going to have to compromise," Rice said. "And when I hear Palestinians and Israelis through Mahmoud Abbas and Ehud Olmert talking about painful compromises, I think that's what they mean.When I hear them saying that they know that they're going to have to overcome years and years of grievance, I think that's what they mean.… But ultimately, you have to put historical grievances behind you. Ultimately, you have to put unrealistic aspirations behind you, that you will get it all. And then you can get an agreement.

"And what I have felt from these Palestinians and these Israelis is that they understand that, and that they're now going to go to the table to try to determine the contours of -- the composition of a Palestinian state so that they can finally live side by side in peace and security."

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