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Powell IV on CBS's The Early Show with Harry Smith

Powell IV on CBS's The Early Show with Harry Smith

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
June 30, 2003

MR. SMITH: Mr. Secretary, good morning. Good to see you again.

SECRETARY POWELL: Good morning, Harry. How are you?

MR. SMITH: Very well. Ariel Sharon's spokesperson over the weekend rejects the ceasefire. He said it's only an excuse for these folks to regroup and attack again. Is he right?

SECRETARY POWELL: What we know is that a ceasefire, in and of itself, won't be enough, because if you leave the capability there, the capability then can be used at some point in the future. But nevertheless, it is at least a step in the right direction toward the elimination of that terrorist capability, and I think we should see it in that context.

The important step over the weekend was the transfer of authority of Gaza from the Israeli Defense Forces to Palestinian Security Forces, and that is important and that is significant, as your setup piece indicated.

What we now hope is that these organizations -- Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Fatah, the al-Aqsa Brigades in Fatah -- will stick to their commitment of no terror or violence, and then we can move forward and give Prime Minister Abbas greater encouragement to move down the path of the roadmap.

MR. SMITH: But Hamas --

SECRETARY POWELL: We can't let --

MR. SMITH: But Hamas and Islamic --

SECRETARY POWELL: I'm sorry, Harry.

MR. SMITH: But Hamas and Islamic Jihad both said, "We want prisoners released. We want Yasser Arafat let out of his compound." They want the Israelis to stop individual attacks on individual members of theirs. Is Israel likely to meet any of those demands?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, they will meet some of those -- not demands, but they will meet some of those elements because they are committed to do so under the roadmap. They will be releasing more prisoners. They will be opening up the area for Palestinian commerce, for Palestinians to go back and forth. That is what they did in Gaza.

But Prime Minister Sharon and the Government of Israel, the State of Israel, has a responsibility for the security of its citizens, and they will do what is necessary to protect their citizens. They also recognize that when they take actions to protect their citizens, those actions have consequences.

Right now, both sides have made a commitment to the roadmap, both sides to take steps to achieve the goals of the roadmap, and both sides have started down that path to peace. And I hope we can keep that progress moving forward.

So far, on the Israeli side we have seen the taking down of unauthorized outposts. We have seen the release of some prisoners. And now we have seen the transfer of Gaza. On the Palestinian side, the Palestinians have assumed responsibility for Gaza. They are rebuilding their capability to police and guard Gaza, and we hope Bethlehem within the next several days, and we hope that will spread.

So it is a step at a time. Both sides are now taking steps down the path laid out by the roadmap.

MR. SMITH: President Bush made it clear last week that he wants the terrorist groups dismantled. You started to mention Abu Abbas just a moment ago. Is he going to be able to disarm the terrorists?

SECRETARY POWELL: We want the terrorists disarmed, and Prime Minister Abbas recognizes that he cannot be the prime minister of a Palestinian state that is based on democratic principles if he has terrorist organizations that have guns, that have weapons, and have an intent to use those weapons that are outside the control of the state. So ultimately, this will have to be dealt with. Prime Minister Abbas wants to have time to deal with it, and he needs to build up his capability to deal with it.

One step in that regard is getting Gaza back under his control. Now that the people of Gaza will be able to move freely back and forth, they will see that Prime Minister Abbas and his new leadership achieved this for them, and therefore, hopefully, they will invest in him more power and authority and start looking away from Hamas, saying, "What have you gotten for us after all these months of terror and violence? You have brought us not one step closer to peace, not one day closer to a Palestinian state, and maybe we should, as a people, begin thinking about the roadmap and not thinking about terror and support of terrorist organizations."

MR. SMITH: And weekly visits from the Bush Administration seem not to hurt either, I guess?

SECRETARY POWELL: If that's what's required, we'll do it. I was there last week. Condi was there this week.

MR. SMITH: All right. Secretary Powell, thanks so much. We do appreciate it.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much, Harry. [End]

Released on June 30, 2003

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