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Powell Interview on Al-Jazeera Television

Interview on Al-Jazeera Television

Secretary Colin L. Powell Dead Sea, Jordan June 23, 2003

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for accepting our interview on Al-Jazeera. First, I d like to ask you, if we assume that the Roadmap is the best, viable solution to resume the peace process in the Middle East, and if we want to simplify the complexity of politics, in your opinion, who has got the higher percentage of willingness to implement the Roadmap? And, who has got a higher percentage of capabilities to implement the Roadmap? Palestinians or Israelis?

SECRETARY POWELL: First of all, I think the Roadmap is the way forward. It is the only way forward right now. As a result of the Roadmap, we were able to bring together all of the leaders, Palestinian leaders, the Israeli leaders, and the American President, as well as all of the Arab leaders, the day before Aqaba, at Sharm Al-Sheikh. And we ve also had all of the members of the Quartet involved. So, the entire international community is now aligned behind the Roadmap. Now, I do not think there is any utility in my saying, "he has this much, this is his percentage, this is his percentage." All individuals, all of the parties to the Roadmap process have obligations and have made commitments and we will be holding them all to those commitments. In some cases, we have to build up the capability of one side, particularly the Palestinian side with respect to their ability to perform security functions in Gaza, and we will help them with that. So, where there are weaknesses, shortcomings -- we need to work on those weaknesses and shortcomings, so that both sides can see that the other side, each side, is a partner for peace as we move forward. So, yes, there will be problems as we move forward, but we must move forward, we must not lose this opportunity for peace.

QUESTION: Don t you consider the State of Israel as a state that has got willingness and has got a unified decision-making process so they can take a decision to stop killing, or targeted killings, as you ve mentioned?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, they have that ability. It is a country with an elected Prime Minister who has a responsibility to protect his people. And we know the difficulty with respect to these targeted killings, as you call them. And the issue is if somebody is coming in and is intending to set off a bomb, should not such a government try to defend its people from that kind of attack if it knows it is coming, or try to stop those kinds of attacks? We can spend the rest of our lives arguing about targeted killing, and settlements, and security, and these various issues, but what we need to do is to solve this problem, what we need to do is to end the terror. If we get Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Al Aqsa Brigade and the others to stop conducting these kinds of activities then there is no need for the State of Israel to try to conduct preemptive actions because there will be no actions that they have to preempt. So the bottom line is we have to start somewhere, and let s start now, and let s start now by speaking out against terror and violence as the leaders did at Sharm al-Sheikh and Aqaba, and as the President has. If we do that, then we can get started, get moving and not spend all of our energy arguing about the latest incident on one side or with the other side. Let s get going.

QUESTION: Can you explain to the Arab audience the difference you see between legitimate resistance and terrorism in the Middle East?

SECRETARY POWELL: Innocent people being killed by bombs seems to me to be absolutely clear. It is terrorism. A young, seven-year-old girl who is murdered in the back of a car; she had nothing to do with the political struggle. The same thing happens on the other side when the response comes and innocent people lose their lives, young people on the Palestinian side. My position as Secretary of State when I see these incidents, either side, I mourn. I mourn for the lives that are lost.

QUESTION: Is there any legitimate resistance?

SECRETARY POWELL: Let me answer the question this way. What has this kind of resistance achieved for Palestinian people, whether you describe it as legitimate or illegitimate, whether it is terrorism or resistance, whatever you call it, let me ask the question this way, what has it achieved for the Palestinian people? Has it moved the Palestinian people one step or one day closer to the state that they deserve, the state that President Bush wants to help create for them? One should, ultimately, sit back and take a look and say, what have we accomplished by the armed intifada for the last several years? Our economy is destroyed, our children cannot go to school, we cannot go to our jobs, and we are not closer to our goal of a state. So, Prime Minister Abbas boldly stood up in Aqaba and said it is time for the armed Intifada to end. Not my words, his words. Wise words. Correct words. It is time for it to end, so that this cycle can be broken and we can move forward and put hope into the hearts of the Palestinian people and the people of Israel for better life for both sides. Ultimately, they have to find a way to share this land together, and we have spent too much time talking about violence, talking about targeted assassinations, response, the cycle continues. It is time to break out of it.

QUESTION: You said yesterday in the conference here that the Palestinian people were trapped in the grip of a failed leadership. And, of course, the new leadership of Mahmoud Abbas is now facing the same attitude from the Israeli government. What can you do for him to help him?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think we are working with him to help him. We are having conversations between his government and the Israeli government on security issues, on other issues. We are prepared to help him economically, we are bringing another fifty million dollars of assistance for him into the region, and he has made the right kind of commitment to moving forward by ending the armed intifada and seeking a peaceful solution. He has put in place a cabinet that is also dedicated to that proposition, gaining control of the finances of the Palestinian Authority, the money that belongs to the Palestinian people so that it is used in an accountable, transparent way, so that people know where their money is going. We have helped to increase the flow of revenue the Israelis have been holding back to the Palestinian authority. So, we are trying to help Prime Minister Abbas in every way that we can. And we ve also said to the Prime Minister that we need to see positive action on the part of his government in order to end terror and violence and to create conditions so that they can assume responsibility for the security of Gaza and Bethlehem for a start, and have the Israelis moves back so that the two sides can work together on security, with Palestinians having primary responsibility for security in Gaza.

QUESTION: If we speak about Iraq, if we presume that the military plans you had to conquer Iraq were brilliant, how much can we say the same about the plans you had for ruling Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: We have no desire to rule Iraq. Our desire is to quickly put in place a responsible government of Iraqi people for Iraqi people. It is going to take some time. Iraq has no democratic tradition; we have to build institutions, we have to find leaders. And while we are doing that, we have responsibilities as the occupying power to make sure that we restore electricity, we fix the water system, we start selling the oil in order to use that oil revenue for the benefit of the people of Iraq. Ambassador Bremer was here yesterday at the World Economic Forum conference to discuss the plans that we have for putting in place a political committee of Iraqis within the next month or so and a constitutional committee to draw up a constitution for the Iraqi people so that they can then have elections. And as soon as these processes get underway, and as soon as we get to the point where Iraqi leaders have come forward and have created their own government and are ready to take over full responsibility, the United States and the Coalition Forces that are here will leave. We have no desire to have another state. We do not do colonies; we are not colonizers. When we have had to do this in the course of the last fifty or sixty years in some nations, such as Japan and Italy and Germany; the experience has been a good one. The United States comes, it helps, it puts in place a better form of government and then we leave. And we leave as permanent friends to the nation that we helped, and that is what we expect will happen in Iraq.

QUESTION: Related to that, are you happy with previous perceptions about the Iraqi Opposition figures, politically? Are you now happy with what you expected from them?

SECRETARY POWELL: The Iraqi external Opposition figures, I think, will be playing a role in the future. They struggled from outside Iraq to bring about change. But we have to make sure that the government that is formed is representative of all Iraqis, both those who were inside the country, as well as those who were outside the country. And there is enough work for all to do. But we have to make sure that we do it in the right way, and in a way that is transparent. And as the Iraqi people see how this process unfolds, they believe that we are not trying to impose a certain few individuals or a certain system on them, but it is a system that they are creating, not being created for them by the Americans, or the British, or any other members of the Coalition.

QUESTION: Last question, what are you doing to enhance the image of the United States outside, especially in the Arab World?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think that now that the Iraq conflict, the immediate conflict is over, and the people in this part of the world watch what we do in Iraq, it is easy to say Americans are trying to steal the oil, the Americans are trying to steal the country, but watch, you watch what happens. And the people of the region will see that the Iraqi people are going to have a better life, that their infrastructure is going to be repaired, their children are going to schools, that their press is free, that they are interacting with the rest of the world. The people of the region will see that not one dollar of Iraqi oil will go anywhere but to benefit the Iraqi people. They will see over time our seriousness with respect to creating a democratic government in Iraq that will live in peace with its neighbors. The people of the region will see that the United States is committed to the Roadmap, committed to creating a Palestinian State, helping the Palestinian people create a Palestinian State that will live side by side in peace with Israel. The people of the region will see over time that in the United States, they have a nation that comes for no purpose other than to seek peace in the region and help the people of the region achieve a better life. They will see us involved politically, they will see us involved in economic development, the President s plan for a free trade agreement for the whole region will benefit the region, and I think in time when these programs and these efforts get underway and people can see them fairly and honestly and openly, they will recognize that America is a partner for peace, a partner for progress in the region, and these negative attitudes that we now see will change.

QUESTION: Economy comes first or democracy?

SECRETARY POWELL: It is the same. You really cannot have one without the other. You have to have democratic openness; you have to have a democratic system in order to put in place the right kind of economic system that can participate in the twenty-first century global economy.

QUESTION: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much. [End]

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