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Powell & Palestinian Authority Chair Yasser Arafat

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

Joint Press Availability With U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell And Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat

June 28, 2001 Ramallah

CHAIRMAN ARAFAT (in Arabic): I would like to warmly welcome our dear guest Mr. Powell, the U.S. Secretary of State. I would like to express my thanks and appreciation for the effort that he is exerting for the sake of pushing forward and protecting the peace process, along with President Bush. We firmly confirm our full and clear commitment to the Mitchell Report's recommendations, and we hope that we all will be able put forth the mechanism needed to expedite its implementation as it was intended. At the same time, we confirm the importance of the arrival of an international observer committee from the various countries, headed by the United Stated, Europe and the United Nations. We have a good, practical example for this, which has proven successful, namely the ten observers now present in Bethlehem, Beit Jalah and Beit Sahour, and we were able, through their efforts, to fully implement the cease fire. And as we said many times before, and today in particular, the settlement issue, as it is mentioned, clearly and frankly, in the Mitchell report, we wish that you, as the main sponsor for the peace process, would start the immediate implementation of this article stated in the Mitchell Report because there is real suffering inflicted upon our people, including the confiscation of our land, and the building of settlements and settlement units.

While the agreement between myself and my late partner, Rabin, (CHAIRMAN ARAFAT switches into English) said no governmental financing, no houses to be added, no new settlements. The fence for any settlement should not be more than 50 meters from the last house.

Besides that, we have to consider that our people are suffering from the crimes and aggressions of all the settlers everywhere, and I'm sorry to say that part of these crimes are under the watch of some officers and Israeli soldiers. I insisted to his Excellency, on what we decided with Mr. Tenet, and we are repeating in front of all of you. Your Excellency, we are completely committed to the peace process, to these points, which we have agreed upon with Mr. Tenet, and we will do all our best in the future, and from now, not in the future, from now, in front of you, as I told you, your Excellency, and you can check all our commitments from the time they are signed.

I am sure that our people will follow up what I am promising your Excellency - no doubt. We will do all our best, all our efforts, and we are sure that, with your support, we will succeed.

And we hope that the implementation of all that has been decided, or the agreements, will be implemented immediately. Thank you again for your coming, and please convey to his Excellency, the President, best wishes and best regards from me personally and from all my people.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for your warm welcome. It is a pleasure to be with you again, and thank you for the opportunity to have a candid exchange of views. I thank you for your reaffirmation of your commitments to the Mitchell Committee Report in all of its aspects.

I assured the Chairman earlier of the United States total commitment to the Mitchell Committee Report in all of its aspects and elements - from an unconditional cessation of the violence, to the confidence-building measures ultimately leading to negotiations on final status, on the provisions of UN Resolutions 242 and 338. I also assured the Chairman that we will solve this as a package -- no part of the Mitchell Committee Report is to be separated from any other part.

As we have said previously and all parties have said previously, that includes the Israelis, not a word of the Mitchell report is to be changed. The United States will be working diligently to make sure that the Mitchell report is implemented in accordance with its tone as well as in accordance with the spirit of the Report as prepared by Senator Mitchell and his colleagues.

I thank the Chairman for his assurance of his efforts to continue to do everything possible to end the violence in the region. Both sides must make a commitment to this. I also told the Chairman that I would use my best efforts to do everything I could to see that we can open up lines of communication back and forth between the two sides, not only security coordination and consultation, but opening access so that people can get to their workplaces so that we can have commerce moving back and forth. I am very mindful of the difficulties under which the Palestinian people have been living in recent months. We want to move as fast as possible to restore a more normal life for the Palestinian people.

So, we are committed to the prompt implementation of the Mitchell Committee Report. We are anxious to see the end of violence in the very near future so that all sides, and the whole international community watching the situation, will recognize that there is now a basis for restoring confidence and trust between the two sides. With that restoration of confidence and trust, we can move forward as quickly as possible in accordance with the timeline that we will establish between the parties to get to what we are all anxious to get to: final status negotiations under the provisions of the appropriate UN Resolutions.

So, Mr. Chairman, I thank you for your hospitality and courtesy, and I look forward to our next meeting.

Thank you.

CHAIRMAN ARAFAT (in English): I have to thank you personally and to thank the U.S. Administration and President Bush, and also thank the European Union leadership for your very important communiqué which has been declared and your stressing upon the Mitchell report, the Egyptian-Jordanian initiative and "land for peace" formula according to the United Nations Resolutions 242, 338 and 425.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you said a few hours ago that you hoped to reach a common understanding, or timing; it sounds like you made some progress in that direction. You have to see Mr. Sharon still, but can you bring us up-to-date on how far along you are on that?

SECRETARY POWELL: We had a good discussion here, and I'll continue those discussions this evening with the Israelis on a timeline of going through the Mitchell report phases. I think we have to do it promptly, but at the same time not so fast that we are ignoring the reality of the situation. And, that there has to be enough time to rebuild confidence and trust, to make sure that that which is put in place remains in place for a period of time before moving on to the next phase.

But what is important to point out is that there will always be movement forward to the next phase. And we cannot allow transition from one phase to another to be a stumbling block. These are phases that must flow one into the other as quickly as events will permit with some calendar timelines so that we don't get stuck in a previous phase. But I'm not prepared to announce what those timelines are now.

QUESTION (in Arabic): Mr. Powell, you have talked about giving Sharon the right of veto for the cooling-off period. Is it reasonable to have the judge and the defendant be the same person at the same time? Can we trust Sharon's decision as to the length of the cooling-off period?

SECRETARY POWELL: I didn't use the term "deal." I pointed out the simple fact that both sides have to come into agreement before one can move forward. And Mr. Sharon had not yet made his decision as to whether or not he was prepared for the beginning of the confidence - building measures and the first step in the confidence building has been the cooling-off period. He has not made a judgment that he is ready for that yet, until he makes that judgment, and both sides are in agreement, then we do not have an agreement to move forward.

And, so, we hope that conditions over the next several days, week or two, will be such that both sides recognize that it is time to move forward into the confidence building phase, and launch the confidence- building phase with the cooling-off period which would build on, hopefully, a cessation of violence in the near future -- violence to a level that all sides can recognize that we have a new situation -- a situation that can inspire trust a -- situation that we can build on.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the Chairman just suggested a monitoring group, if I understood, that might include the United States and European Union. The Israelis have always voiced opposition to this. What merit do you see in this proposal?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think as we get into the confidence building measure confidence building phase -- there will be a need for monitors and observers to see what's happening on the ground, to serve as interlocutors to go to points of friction and make an independent observation of what has happened. Now what the nature of that monitoring or observer regime might look like, who might be members of it, we have not yet come to any conclusion on that. But I think there is clear understanding of the need for some kind of monitoring observer function performed by some group.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, Leyla Awdi, Abu Dhabi TV. Do you agree that with (inaudible) international agreement that giving the right for people who are under occupation to fight until they will have their freedom? Do you think that the Palestinians have the right to fight the Israeli occupation until it's the last occupation in the whole world? What's you reaction about Sharon when he spoke about President Arafat as "a leader of a terrorist gang?" What's your reaction about that, and do you think these words will build confidence between the Israelis and the Palestinians?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think this is the time for all sides, all of us, to lower our rhetoric, and move forward -- move forward to find peace. Violence will not solve this crisis for either side, and continuing down the path of violence gets us nowhere except more funerals, more destruction, destruction of the livelihood of people.

So this is the time to talk about peace. This is the time to talk about the end of violence. This is the time to talk about discussing with one another in fruitful, open, candid negotiations how one moves forward, and how one finds a solution to these difficult issues that must be resolved in order for these two people to live in peace in this one land.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

SECRETARY POWELL: I think all sides should lower the rhetoric and the characterizations -- unkind and difficult characterizations -- of the other side. In the time that we are trying to move forward, it would be better for all of us to lower the rhetoric. (Inaudible) I think I've answered the question.

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