U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is in the Middle East to urge that Israeli and Palestinian leaders work together on Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

Ms. Rice arrived in Israel Thursday, following an upsurge in Israeli-Palestinian violence. She said both sides must resist efforts by terrorists to destroy what she called the "moment of hope" brought about by the Gaza withdrawal.

Ahead of her arrival, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel is considering speeding up its Gaza Strip withdrawal plan, to avoid further protests by opponents of the pullout.

On the Palestinian side, Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia said Palestinians will celebrate "every single meter" of land abandoned by Israel. But Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon stressed that he plans to keep large settlement blocs in the West Bank under Israeli control.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AFP.