JERUSALEM: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will visit Israel and the Palestinian territories next week during a 24-hour stopover as part of a regional tour, a diplomatic source told AFP Thursday. Secretary of State Rice will be arriving in Israel and the Palestinian territories for talks with [Palestinian] President [Mahmoud] Abbas and Israeli leaders on Wednesday, the source said. The visit will be part of a regional tour that is to include Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, the source added. Rice announced last week that she would travel to the Middle East soon as part of renewed international efforts to break a stalemate in peace efforts. U.S. President George W. Bush has instructed her to work with moderate Arab allies to strengthen institutions and security forces loyal to Abbas. But Rice has refrained from providing a firm date for the trip, or specifying the countries she would visit. U.S. diplomats have said Rice was waiting for a clearer signal on the prospects for success in Abbas efforts to set up a unity government with Hamas which would meet conditions set down by the United States and its major power allies. The conditions include recognizing Israel s right to exist, renouncing violence and agreeing to abide by past Israeli-Palestinian peace accords – demands the Islamic movement have so far rejected. In a series of interviews with major New York newspapers Monday, Rice blamed Hamas hardliners based in Damascus for torpedoing the latest efforts to revive the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Rice last visited the Middle East in July during the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict in Lebanon.