Roadmap only way forward to mideast peace, Powell says
Palestine-USA, Politics, 9/23/2004
The United States remains committed to the Roadmap for Peace in the Middle East.
"It is the only way forward," U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said September 22 before a meeting of representatives of the United Nations, the European Union and Russia.
President George W. Bush "remains totally committed to the vision he laid out to the world on June 24, 2002, and we will continue to pursue that vision as we meet with the Quartet," Powell said.
The Quartet refers to the United States, the United Nations, the European Union, and Russia when dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
After a meeting that lasted more than one hour, the Quartet released a statement that said, "the situation on the ground for both Palestinians and Israelis remains extremely difficult and no significant progress has been achieved on the road map."
The participants in the Quartet discussions were U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, European Union representatives Javier Solana and Chris Patten.
The Quartet noted "with deep concern" that genuine action is still needed to empower the Palestinian Authority's prime minister and cabinet so they can fulfill their obligations including dismantling terrorist infrastructure, prepare for control over Gaza, reform security forces and re-establish the rule of law.
In a two-page statement that reflected the remarks President Bush made a day earlier in the General Assembly Hall, the Quartet urged Israel to dismantle settlement outposts erected since March 2001, impose a settlement freeze, and take all possible steps now to ease the humanitarian and economic plight of the Palestinians. It reaffirmed its concerns about Israel's security barrier and urged Israel "to take action ... with respect to the route."
The Quartet said that Israel's withdrawal from Gaza "should be full and complete and be undertaken in a manner consistent with the road map."
Powell also said that there is an important role for moderate Arab states to play in the peace process, one reason President Bush reached out to Jordan and Egypt to meet at Aqaba.
"We believe they are the nations with the greatest equity in seeing a solution to the problem between Israel and Palestine, in addition to the Israelis and Palestinians themselves," the secretary said.
"I hope that the Arab nations will be playing a role in encouraging the Palestinian Authority to empower a prime minister who can act for the Palestinian people and to wrest power and authority away from Mr. Arafat so that somebody who can use that power and authority can be set up to do that," he said.
"The United States has said repeatedly we believe that the Palestinian Authority has to empower its prime minister so that Prime Minister Abu Ala will be seen as somebody who has authority to act in the name of the Palestinian people and that he can work with us, work with the Israelis, work with the Egyptians and others to get ready to assume political control over Gaza after the disengagement takes place, and also to put in place a security force that has been trimmed down in size, that is rationalized, and that is fully equipped to provide security in Gaza," Powell said.
"That is an essential step," the secretary said.
"Chairman Arafat, in our judgment, is not able to act in this manner," Powell said. "Therefore, we continue to encourage him to give authority to a prime minister in a manner intended by the summit meetings we had last summer in Sharm el-Sheikh and Aqaba."
In his address to the General Assembly September 21, President Bush highlighted the mutual obligations that both the Palestinians and Israelis have to make to get the peace process back on track.
"Good will and hard effort" can revive the Roadmap for peace even after "the setbacks and frustrations of recent months," the president said.
"Peace will not be achieved by Palestinian rulers who intimidate opposition, tolerate corruption, and maintain ties to terrorist groups," he said. "The longsuffering Palestinian people deserve better."
Israel, the president continued, "should impose a settlement freeze, dismantle unauthorized outposts, end the daily humiliation of the Palestinian people, and avoid any actions that prejudice final negotiations."
"Arab states should end incitement in their own media, cut off public and private funding for terrorism, and establish normal relations with Israel," Bush said.
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