Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders during the next two days. It's the first visit to the area by America's top diplomat since the Islamist group Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in June.
Rice is trying to bolster the "emergency" government set up in the West Bank by Hamas's main rival, Fatah.
The political and economic divide between Gaza and the West Bank is widening by the day. Now, senior United Nations officials warn that the economy of the Hamas-controlled coastal strip faces looming collapse unless Israel re-opens Karni, Gaza's main commercial crossing point, to the outside world.