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Powell Remarks En Route Andrews Air Force Base

Remarks En Route Andrews Air Force Base

Secretary Colin L. Powell On Board Plane May 23, 2003

SECRETARY POWELL: Since we left Paris, I think you ve seen the response I alluded to in the press conference earlier, from the Israeli Government, in light of the statement that we issued today that s taking the concerns that Israel has about the roadmap as we move forward. The Israeli government, in effect, has expressed acceptance of the roadmap and are taking it to their cabinet on the weekend. I think you have the exact language that they used.

I view this as a very positive development; the President down in Crawford also took note of this in his press conference with Prime Minister Koizumi a few moments ago, a little while ago. He hopes this will provide an opportunity now for Prime Minister Abu Mazen and Prime Minister Sharon to get together again in the very near future, and begin to discuss how to move forward.

The United States, as you ve heard me say before, is ready to assist in this process with additional people on the ground, in the region, to serve in a coordination role and eventually perhaps monitoring role when the time becomes appropriate for that.

My colleagues in the Quartet, who I ve had a chance to talk to, 3 of the 4 of us were there today and I talked to Kofi Annan before I left, suggesting to him what was coming along. Of course, all members of the Quartet are pleased with this development, and I had a chance to brief it to all the other G-8 foreign ministers earlier today.

Shifting to the resolution, I think you have all you need on that from me, subject to whatever questions you might have, so, questions?

QUESTION: What do you mean, or what is meant, by taking into account Israel s concerns? What understandings down the road might that encompass?

SECRETARY POWELL: It s important that we get into the execution of the roadmap, and there are no concerns in the first phases of the roadmap. As you get deeper into the roadmap, and let s hope we get there to phase 2 and we start setting up a state with provisional boundaries and other provisional elements to it, there it becomes more difficult with respect to the issues. When you start getting into settlements, it becomes more difficult and both sides will have concerns.

When we say that we ll address those concerns, that s what it means. It means that when we come to those parts of the roadmap that cause either side serious concern, then we ll have to have discussions between both sides, and with the authors of the roadmap, principally the United States, trying to facilitate a way forward, through discussions, through negotiations, through modifications that are mutually agreed upon.

But it was important to get started with something that is before both parties, and represents a considered view of the international community of how one could go forward to achieve the vision laid out by President Bush last June 24.

QUESTION: We were at the disadvantage of not knowing Israel s response exactly in terms of what their objections are, but I know you don t want to speak for them, but could you as best you can tell us what they are and why you consider them real? What are these that you can adjust them without reopening the roadmap?

SECRETARY POWELL: They have a list of concerns. I ve seen different lists, 11, 12, up to 15 different issues. Most of them, I think, and I don t have the list in memory or with me, most of them, I think, are resolvable within the context of the roadmap. It s essentially the Israeli Government putting down a strong marker on a particular issue. Others are more difficult, when you get into let me give you an example of the kind of issue that would have been awfully hard to resolve now, and that is the right of return. Before we even get started on the roadmap, you have to waive that, and no Palestinian leader could do that. So we know that s a problem, we ll have to deal with it, there are formulas to deal with it. The Arab League formula last year says, has agreed by the parties ultimately with respect to the right of return, which means the two parties have to negotiate, on that point.

And so those kinds of concerns that would be so severe to try to deal with now, would have stopped the process before it got started, are the kinds of concerns that we re saying we will have to address as we go forward. Address doesn t necessarily mean make a judgment, it means address. Address is a very nice, broad term, that I think more than adequately captures what we are anticipating we ll have to do as we go down the road.

I also expect that as we go down the road, the Palestinians will come up with concerns that they have not yet expressed to us.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the AP story that we were handed says that there were two main reservations. The first is that the Palestinians should begin cracking down on militants before Israel took any steps. What you laid out in the press conference today was what sounded like a fairly long process to get an infrastructure that would be capable of doing that. Does that mean that nothing happens until that happens?

SECRETARY POWELL: No. Both sides have to start taking steps. In the case of the Palestinian side, recall that I said earlier, 100%intent, 100% effort, and we ll help them put in place the capability for the effort. They have already started with the presentation of a security plan, and now we have to operationalize that. A plan isn t anything.

The Palestinians are not without any capability whatsoever. There are Palestinian security forces. They do not have all the equipment they need, they need vehicles, they need radios, they need weaponry. That s the kind of capability they need but they are not totally without any capability, especially in Gaza. Gaza is the place where you can get this started more readily than in the West Bank.

I think you ll see that the Israelis will be making steps in parallel. Do you recall, when I was there last weekend, weekend before last, Prime Minister Sharon laid out a number of steps that he was planning to take. Some of them were taken, and in the 10 days since then, more have been taken, but frankly, some of it was derailed because of all the bombs that started to go off.

What is important here is that even with the surge of violence, all parties realized that we had to try to move forward, we had to move forward and not let terror once again stop the potential for progress.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, can you explain why this compromise that you ve agreed to, this language about considering things in the future, isn t just kicking the can further down the road, putting off the most difficult issues, particularly settlements? I had thought that it was very important to the United States that Israel at least symbolically do something on settlements, hand the Palestinians something they could see such as curtailing the illegal outposts at the very least. Aren t you just kicking all this further down the road and how does this satisfy the needs of Prime Minister Abbas to be able to have something concrete to show his own people?

SECRETARY POWELL: At least we have a can in the road. It s easy to say, why didn t you solve this all up front? Because you couldn t. You couldn t get started. So there are difficult issues that are ahead, this is not going to be solved in one day or one week or one month. All of these issues, difficult issues - such as why don t we get rid of all of the outposts tomorrow - that will have to be dealt with. The outposts will be an early on issue for resolution. It is all in the roadmap. In time, every element of the roadmap will have to be dealt with. Some will be easy, some of the elements will be easy, some will be very very difficult, but we had to get started. So the can is in the road now, and we will start moving it down the road, perhaps with little kicks as opposed to a 54-yarder.

QUESTION: Prime Minister Abbas met yesterday or the day before, I believe, with some representatives of Hamas. Do you have any reading out of this meeting, how it went, and whether that dialogue he promised to you has begun?

SECRETARY POWELL: I know he had those meetings, but I don t have a good enough readout to give it to you. [End]

Released on May 25, 2003

ENDS

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