Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

6 Kislev 5762 - November 21, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Powell Says US Will Get Involved
by Yated Ne'eman Staff and M. Plaut

US Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke for 40 minutes at the University of Louisville on Monday night and slightly more than half of his remarks were devoted to the Middle East, laying out the major lines of US policy in the period ahead. In a change from the US administration's early reluctance to get involved, Powell acknowledged there can be no progress on the Israeli-Palestinian track without US help. Powell said the US "will do all it can to help the process along. We will push. We will prod."

Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon said that he welcomes the speech and the understanding approach presented therein, praising US President George Bush and Secretary of State Powell for their uncompromising war on global terrorism for the sake of freedom, liberty and democracy.

The US Secretary of State repeated the US call for a Palestinian state. The first time that a US official spoke explicitly of a Palestinian state was in President Bush's address at the United Nations a few weeks ago. Powell also referred to the Israeli "occupation," which close observers said was a first for US diplomacy.

Despite these elements, the speech was notable for not proposing an overall plan of any sort for a settlement, as many had speculated it would.

Powell said the Palestinians would never achieve their national aspirations through violence. "Palestinians need to understand that however legitimate their claims, they cannot be heard, let alone be addressed, through violence . . . Terror and violence must stop, and stop now."

He also said Palestinians must eliminate any doubt once and for all that they accept the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state. "They must make clear that their objective is a Palestinian state alongside Israel, not in place of Israel."

Secretary Powell said the Arab world must make "unmistakably clear" its acceptance of Israel and its commitment to a negotiated settlement.

He said the US "could not hope to turn the situation around by acting alone" and called on Egypt, Jordan, the EU, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Russia, and others to be partners in the effort.

Powell will dispatch Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs William Burns to Israel at the end of the week. He will be accompanied by Powell's special adviser, retired Marine general Anthony Zinni, whose first mission will be to help the sides achieve a durable cease-fire along the lines of the Tenet plan. Zinni will coordinate with new, senior-level committees appointed by Israel and the PA to deal with cease-fire arrangements and security cooperation.

Asked by reporters on the flight back to Washington what he meant in his speech, Powell chuckled and replied: "You'll see what pushing and prodding is when Tony Zinni gets out there."

Of Israel, Powell said that it must halt settlement activity because it cripples chances for real peace and security. "For the sake of Palestinians and Israelis alike, the occupation must end, and it can end only through negotiations," he said. "Israel must be willing to end its occupation, consistent with the principles embodied in Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, and accept a viable Palestinian state."

In a statement in response to the speech, Israeli prime minister Sharon said that the cessation of all terrorism, violence and incitement is a prior condition for any diplomatic progress. He added, "In order for us to find the chance to reach the cease-fire that we all hope for, I have established a negotiating team -- in conjunction with Foreign Minister Shimon Peres -- to conduct negotiations toward achieving a cease-fire with the Secretary of State's special representatives, Assistant Secretary of State William Burns and [retired US Marine Corps] Gen. Anthony Zinni."

Senior Palestinian Authority officials stressed the speech called for an end to the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and clearly stated US support for a viable Palestinian state on land occupied during the 1967 war in return for security for Israel.

Palestinian officials took heart from these comments, and official Palestinian media played them up, omitting virtually any reference to Powell's demands on the Palestinian Authority. "On a broad vision, the statement was good," Palestinian Authority Cabinet minister Nabil Sha'ath said.

Nonetheless the first move must be Arafat's -- to stop the violence and incitement.

A senior US official said that messages the US has been receiving of late indicating that "Arafat's lieutenants" want to put an end to the violence is the primary reason why the US feels that this newest initiative will have more success in bringing about a cease-fire.

According to JTA analyst D. Landau, Israeli government sources said that Powell's demands of the Palestinians were concrete and immediate, whereas the concessions he demanded of Israel were more vague.

Yet Zalman Shoval, an adviser to Sharon, said Powell understands Israel's position that the week of quiet is an important test of Arafat's commitment to peace. "I think the Americans know that if Arafat can't bring about a week of quiet, he can't be depended on to bring a lifetime of peace," Shoval said.

Israeli Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said that the level of Palestinian violence had dropped markedly over the past two weeks. He attributed much of this to operations by the Israel Defense Force, the Shin Bet security service and police rather than to Palestinian Authority efforts, which Israel continues to regard as inadequate and ineffective.

Other senior security officials that Israel had foiled close to 20 terrorist attacks in the past month, some of them planned as mass murders. They said that paradoxically the resulting relative quite is being interpreted as evidence of Palestinian intentions, when it really represents Israeli success in combating violence that would continue unabated if left alone.


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.