Rice pledges support for Middle East road map

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Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, promised yesterday that the Bush administration would deepen its involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process but neither Israelis nor Palestinians foresaw any concrete results coming from the first leg of her Middle East tour.

The process remains paralysed because the Palestinians are locked in a power struggle between the Hamas government and the Fatah president - also because Ehud Olmert's scandal-ridden Israeli coalition has failed to regain public confidence after last summer's Lebanon war.

Ms Rice, who is meeting Mr Olmert for talks in Jerusalem today, reiterated US support for the international road map as the best way to achieve a state for the Palestinians and security for Israelis. However, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President, rejected a transitional state within temporary borders, one of the road map's key elements. Palestinians fear that "temporary" could all too easily become "permanent".