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Colin Powell Statement on Middle East

Colin Powell Statement on Situation in the Middle East

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman For Immediate Release April 17, 2001

STATEMENT BY SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN L. POWELL

Situation in the Middle East

The United States is deeply concerned about the events of the last four days in the Middle East, including the Hezbollah attack on Israeli forces at Sheba'a Farms, the Israeli retaliatory attack directed at Syrian positions in Lebanon, the ongoing Palestinian mortar attacks into Israel, and last night's Israeli retaliation in Gaza. The situation is threatening to escalate further, posing the risk of a broader conflict. We call upon all sides to exercise maximum restraint, to reduce tensions, and to take steps to end the violence immediately.

The hostilities last night in Gaza were precipitated by the provocative Palestinian mortar attacks on Israel. The Israeli response was excessive and disproportionate. We call upon both sides to respect the agreements they've signed. For the Palestinians, this includes implementing their commitment to renounce terrorism and violence, to exercise control over all elements of the P.L.O. and the Palestinian Authority, and to discipline violators. For the Israelis, this includes respecting their commitment to withdraw from Gaza according to the terms of the agreements signed by Israel and the Palestinians. There can be no military solution to this conflict. We continue to strongly believe that the resumption of bilateral security cooperation is essential to reduce and eventually end the violence. We are continuing to work with the parties so that they can resume as soon as possible the security discussions they began two weeks ago.

The United States remains prepared to assist the parties in taking steps to reduce the violence, seeking ways to restore trust and confidence, and assisting them in resolving their differences through negotiations. (###)


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