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Powell IV on ABC's Good Morning America

Interview on ABC's Good Morning America with Charlie Gibson

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

MR. GIBSON: Mr. Secretary, we've had moments of optimism in the past in the Middle East. Should we be any more optimistic about this one, or should we be skeptical?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think we should be optimistic. I think we've seen a very positive development over the weekend with the security agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to turn over responsibility for the Gaza Strip from Israel to the Palestinian Authority. They have worked very hard on this turnover over the last week or so, and I'm glad it came to a successful conclusion, and it didn't take them long to execute. Israeli Defense Forces are leaving Gaza. Palestinian Authority officials are taking over. The people of Gaza will now be able to use that main north-south road to get to schools, to get to hospitals, to get to jobs, and that should improve their life.

This is one of those important steps that was called for under the roadmap. Israel has obligations. The Palestinian Authority has obligations. Both sides are taking those early steps toward the satisfaction of those obligations. And so it's a good development.

And then we also note that Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Fatah have declared ceasefires. A ceasefire, in and of itself, isn't enough, but at least it's a beginning. What we really want to see is the elimination of the terrorist capability of those organizations, and we'll be working toward that end.

But, in any event, this ceasefire at least reinforces what's happening in Gaza, and let's get some moments of calm here so that we can move forward even more aggressively. But we're pleased at these developments.

MR. GIBSON: Mr. Secretary, many past peace efforts have been scuttled when there has been an outbreak of violence -- groups that didn't want ceasefires or peace. One significant incident here -- this is a very dicey time -- one very significant incident, and doesn't the entire roadmap come apart?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I hope not. What we have found in the past is that we have allowed the process to become hostage to one group, one individual, one bomb. And I think both sides realize this time is, that if there is good faith between the two, and if trust and confidence are reestablished, and with the presence of an American monitoring group under Ambassador John Wolf, we can continue to go forward and not let a single incident of an outsider, of a terrorist who really doesn't want peace, to derail the effort. Then I think we can make progress.

But it depends upon best efforts and best intentions and actual performance on the part of the Palestinian Authority to bring these groups under control and disarm them. Otherwise, the hopes of the Palestinian people will be dashed once again, and, for that matter, the hopes of the Israelis for an opportunity to live in peace once again in their communities.

MR. GIBSON: Mr. Secretary, let me turn to Iraq. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has said there will be some untidiness after the military victory was over. Isn't what we're seeing now more than "untidiness," but we're seeing organized resistance?

SECRETARY POWELL: We're seeing resistance. It's not clear how organized it is. So far, I don't think we can say that it is a nationwide insurgency or effort that is under central direction. We don't see that. We're seeing some remnants of the Hussein regime, some Baath Party remnants. We're seeing a lot of criminal activity. We're seeing a lot of looters. And so we are concerned about the level of violence we have been seeing. But at the same time, we are confident that with our security forces and with our military forces, and with the rebuilding of Iraqi infrastructure, especially the Iraqi police force, we can bring this under control.

MR. GIBSON: Mr. Secretary, always good to talk to you. All the best.


MR. GIBSON: Thank you.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, Charlie.

MR. GIBSON: Take care.


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