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Powell And Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman (Jerusalem) For Immediate Release June 28, 2001

Remarks By U.S. Secretary Of State Colin L. Powell And Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres After Their Meeting At The Foreign Ministry

June 28, 2001 Jerusalem

FOREIGN MINISTER PERES: It is with pleasure that we receive the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, on an extremely important visit at a very sensitive period of time in the Middle East. For us, the Secretary is really a symbol of a major change in the Middle East when he stood at the head of the American army and the coalition of armies, including Arab armies, in order to stop aggression in the Middle East. I am referring to Desert Storm, which I believe has had a very deep impact upon the developments in the Middle East, and now again, he is heading a policy which is aimed to bring an end to violence and renew the negotiations.

I am aware of all the difficulties, but I don't think the situation is hopeless. I think as far as the Government of Israel is concerned we are committed to the Mitchell report as a whole. We think it is a map that can lead us from the cessation of fire to the beginning of negotiations. It is not an easy road or an automatic way, but I think we can make it.

Israel will fulfill all the obligations, which are included on our part in the Mitchell report and the Tenet document, but we expect likewise that the Palestinian side will do the same. I think the talks of the ceasefire, while they are not yet conclusive, are a good beginning, and the sooner we shall arrive at the cessation of fire and the cessation of incitement, the train of peace can leave its first station and go through all the sequences mentioned in the Mitchell report until we shall reach the most important station of the political negotiations, in order to attain a permanent solution based on 242 and 338 will be attained. Our discussions were, as usual, very open, very friendly, and we are really trying to see eye to eye in order to start the movement.

Thank you.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, Mr. Minister. It's a great pleasure to be back in Israel, and I thank you for your hospitality and for the frank and open discussions that we have had this morning, and that we always have whenever we get together. I thank you for your support once again as you've just given it to the Mitchell Committee report in all of its elements. It is a package, and no part of that package can be separated from any other part of the package. It begins with the ending of the violence, it begins with the cease fire, it begins with the cooling-off period where confidence can be restored, where trust can be rebuilt, and where we can take this cooling-off period to collect ourselves for moving to the next phase quickly of the Mitchell Committee plan, and that is confidence-building measures.

And as the Minister just said, all of the confidence-building measures are important, all of them are part of the report, and the Israeli Government has indicated its support for every element of the confidence-building section of the report. And then ultimately through the confidence-building measures you must reach final status negotiations based on 242 and 338. The whole thing is a package, but we can't start opening the package until we end the violence, until we have a period of quiet for a number of days where we can let the wounds begin to heal, let the passions begin to drop, let the situation improve to the point where we can start the cooling-off period.

So my message throughout this trip will be to end the violence, end the incitement, begin the re-building of trust and confidence, make sure that the security consultations that are taking place are productive and honest and straightforward, and have as their purpose the resolution of difficulties, that we speak out against terrorism, that we bring the rhetoric under control, so that confidence and trust can be restored and re-built. I'm pleased that the Mitchell Committee report enjoys the endorsement of the entire international community -- the United Nations, the European Union, countries around the world support this effort.

This is the only game in town, to coin an American expression. And we have to make sure that this game is played out. And the beginning -- to use another metaphor the Minister used -- "The train leaves the station with the ending of violence," and that will be my consistent message in the course of my visit.

Even after this visit is over, and I return to Washington, I and President Bush and the other members of President Bush's Administration will remain deeply engaged on a daily basis to make sure that this process moves forward.

I thank once again the Minister for his graciousness and his hospitality. Thank you, sir.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you spoke of moving quickly toward confidence building measures. Is that a concept or do you have a sense now of how long now in terms of days or weeks Israel would like that to be?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think I do have a sense of timing, and my thoughts on timing I would like to share with all the parties in the course of the day and see if we can come to a common understanding of how long a cooling-off period might be, and how long the confidence-building measures period might be. I think all sides are interested in moving through these phases as quickly as possible, but one has to be practical and realistic with respect to what can be accomplished in certain periods of time. And so we don't want to move so quickly that we're guaranteeing failure, because we know we cannot accomplish things in the time we set for ourselves. But, at the same time, we can't use extended periods of time as a basis for delay, or not getting to what we're all after, which is final status negotiations in the final phase.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, is there any reaction to the Sharon plan as presented in the United States, giving back fifty percent of the land, keeping the Jordan valley, etc.

SECRETARY POWELL: We don't have a specific government proposal. I think what has to be determined will be determined when we get the final status discussions. I am sure that when we get to final status discussions at the end of the Mitchell process and that final phase, both sides will come to the table with their positions, where they would like to start out those negotiations. Then it is through those negotiations that we will determine what direction to take and what that final solution will look like. So, I would not prejudge or comment now, at this point, on what the two sides might bring to the table when we get to final status negotiations.

QUESTION: .. (Inaudible) affect your mission here in the Middle East?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, I don't think it will affect my mission. I think my mission is on track for the purposes I indicated.

QUESTION: Mr. Foreign Minister, is it your view that we have already had three or four days of almost complete calm and that therefore we need another six days before the cooling-off period can begin, and also do you plan to go to Lisbon this weekend and see Yasser Arafat?

FOREIGN MINISTER PERES: On the first issue, even if we are talking about 100 percent of effort, we can see three missing links. One is, clear orders to the different police or several military organizations under the authority of the Palestinian Authority. Our feeling is that not all of the commandos understood that there is one clear policy given by Chairman Arafat, and we can see variations on the ground where some give different interpretation to what is permitted and what is not, and we think there is an immediate need for clear instructions and orders to stop the shooting and the violence. The second is, both in the Mitchell report and the Tenet report, there is a call to arrest people who carry a potential of explosives or bombs or shooting. This again was not done. And, the third is really the cessation of the incitement.

Now, no meeting has yet been fixed between Chairman Arafat and myself in Portugal. As you may know, I am the Honorary Chairman of the Socialist International. I understand that they are going to have on the agenda a discussion on the Middle East, where I was asked to deliver our point of view, which I shall do. I understand that Mr. Arafat was invited as well. I don't know if he will come or not. He will probably do likewise. Now this is not the first time that we are meeting under the auspices of the Socialist International. This may happen again.

Thank you.

QUESTION (In Hebrew): Does your and the Defense Minister's position on the dismantling of outpost endanger the (stability) of the government's coalition?

FOREIGN MINISTER PERES (In Hebrew): This coalition was formed on the basic agreement by all parties that there will be no new settlements, no new settlements and no new semi-settlements. It was even before the Mitchell plan. This was our condition to participate in this government. Therefore, according to the (coalition) agreement and according to the law, whoever plans to build a settlement or an outpost anywhere, needs to get the approval of the military, the security (forces). They should be protected. I believe this is a major mistake. It will needlessly turn the whole world against us. We don't gain any advantage on the ground, and it adds a burden on the already busy IDF. Therefore, according to the law and the (coalition) agreement, these outposts should be dismantled.

Thank you very much.

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