Powell fails, conditions worse, Israel breaks to new Palestinians areas, Sharon stresses US understanding
Palestine-Israel, Politics, 4/18/2002
Following the end of the tour held by the US secretary of state Colin Powell on Wednesday which was described by observers as a failure, the Israeli occupation forces continued its besiege of the Nativity church and escalated breaking in operations, repression against the Palestinians.
The Israeli forces on Wednesday broke into al-Esaweyah town, one of the outskirts of Jerusalem and the area of Moses prophet tomb, Askar camp in Nablus, al-Balaa village in Toulkarem leaving behind further acts of killing, more killed and wounded Palestinians and aresting more Palestinians.
The Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Oreikat described the conditions in the occupied Palestinian territories as worse than it was before the tour of Powell into the region.
Powell on Wednesday concluded his mission by meeting with the chairman of the Palestinian authority Yasser Arafat but without achieving any progress concerning the cease fire or the withdrawal of the Israeli forces. A matter which pushed the culture official at the Palestinian authority Yasser Abd Rabbu to consider the meeting between Arafat and Powell as catastrophic.
For his part, the secretary of the Palestinian authority Ahmad Abdul Rahman said that Powell has failed in his mission because of the stubbornness and atrocity of the Israeli. Meantime, Sharon announced that Israel will withdraw from the Palestinian area only after completing its mission, stressing that Jerusalem is Israel's eternal united capital and it will never be the subject of negotiations.
The Israeli radio quoted Sharon as saying that the US did not exert any pressure on him to withdraw from the Palestinian areas and that there is an understanding with the US secretary of state and an agreement between the US CIA and the Israeli officials on the Palestinians besieged in the Nativity church in Bethlehem that states either to bring them before the courts in Israel or expel them from their country.
Sharon renewed his call for the return back of the Palestinian refugees to their territories, noting that Israel will not accept the deployment of international observers in the Palestinian areas.
The US secretary of state called on Israel to end its incursions in the Palestinian territories and to resume security meetings with the Palestinian authority so as to reach a cease- fire between the two sides.
In a press conference he held in Jerusalem following his meeting with Arafat, Powell stressed the need of ending the Israeli incursions, noting that security talks can ensure reaching a cease fire and that the cease fire is the appropriate expression at the meantime and will be only so with the end of the incursion and after the Israeli withdrawal will be completed.
Powell called on Arafat to make a strategic choice and to alienate the Palestinians from what he called the road of violence. He added that Sharon had set a one week time to end the pullout of the Israeli forces from the Palestinian territories it had occupied.
Powell added that high ranking officials will come to the region to end what he called violence, noting that he will return back to the region to continue his efforts to promote matters forward, but he did not set a date for that.
Meantime, Powell stressed cancellation of meeting which was due with President Mubarak. He met with the Egyptian foreign minister Ahmad Maher. Powell and announced that Washington will resume within the few coming days its contacts with the Palestinian Authority. A palestinian official said that the chairman of the CIA George Tenet will arrive in the region within one week to handle these matters.
A senior US administration official said yesterday Powell "made some progress in defusing what was an extremely tense situation just a few weeks ago."
Meantime, Arafat accused Sharon of reoccupying the West Bank after he vowed to pullout from it. Arafat, who was talking in conclusion of his meeting with Powell said that the Israeli forces continue its aggressions against the Palestinian people, noting that the withdrawal of the Israeli forces from certain Palestinian areas is not real.
Arafat urged the administration of the US President George Bush and the international community to work altogether in order to break the siege imposed by Israel on him.
The chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Oreikat stressed on Wednesday that the US does not desire to challenge Sharon nor to force him to abide by immediate withdrawal from the Palestinian territories which were re-occupied.
Oreikat warned that if immediate withdrawal from the Palestinian territories does not take place, Sharon will make more incursions and worse things will be happen.
Oreikat questioned that if the US administration will not force Sharon to abide by withdrawal from Ramullah and Bethlehem, how can the American administration convince the Arab states and the world that the US will force Sharon to withdraw until June 4, 1967 border lines in a future peace "through this conference or that."
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