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04 April 2002

Bush Sends Powell to Middle East on Peace Mission

(Calls on Israelis to end incursions; Arab World to confront
terrorism) (2130)
President Bush is sending Secretary of State Colin Powell to the
Middle East next week in an effort to end the escalating violence
between Israelis and Palestinians and lay a foundation for political
talks.
Powell "will work to implement United Nations Resolution 1402, an
immediate and meaningful cease-fire, an end of terror and violence and
incitement, withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian cities,
including Ramallah; implementation of the already agreed-upon Tenet
and Mitchell plans, which will lead to a political settlement," Bush
said in a statement at the White House April 4.
The president said the United States supports the goal of a
Palestinian state existing side by side with Israel in peace and
security, but he said Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has brought on
the Israeli military incursions because of his failure to act against
terrorists.
The president called on the Palestinian Authority and all governments
in the region "to do everything in their power to stop terrorist
activities, to disrupt terrorist financing, and to stop inciting
violence by glorifying terror in state-owned media or telling suicide
bombers they are martyrs."
"They're not martyrs. They're murderers. And they undermine the cause
of the Palestinian people," Bush said.
Bush praised Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdullah's initiative for
peace and the visionary leadership displayed by Egypt and Jordan.
"Now other Arab states must rise to this occasion and accept Israel as
a nation and as a neighbor. Peace with Israel is the only avenue to
prosperity and success for a new Palestinian state. The Palestinian
people deserve peace and an opportunity to better their lives," Bush
said.
"America recognizes Israel's right to defend itself from terror. Yet,
to lay the foundations of future peace, I ask Israel to halt
incursions into Palestinian-controlled areas and begin the withdrawal
from those cities it has recently occupied," Bush said.
Turning to the "hard choices" facing Israel, Bush said a future
Palestinian state must be politically and economically viable. He
urged Israel to show respect and concern for the dignity of the
Palestinian people.
"Consistent with the Mitchell Plan, Israeli settlement activity in
occupied territories must stop," Bush said.
"This is a conflict that can widen or an opportunity we can seize,"
Bush said, with Secretary Powell standing at his right side at the
White House.
"I have no illusions...about the difficulties of the issues that lie
ahead," he said. "America is committed to ending this conflict and
beginning an era of peace."
Following is the text of Bush's statement:
(begin text)
Statement by the President on the Middle East The Rose Garden
11:00 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. During the course of one week, the
situation in the Middle East has deteriorated dramatically. Last
Wednesday, my Special Envoy, Anthony Zinni, reported to me that we
were on the verge of a cease-fire agreement that would have spared
Palestinian and Israeli lives.
That hope fell away when a terrorist attacked a group of innocent
people in a Netanya hotel, killing many men and women in what is a
mounting toll of terror.
In the days since, the world has watched with growing concern the
horror of bombings and burials and the stark picture of tanks in the
street. Across the world, people are grieving for Israelis and
Palestinians who have lost their lives.
When an 18-year-old Palestinian girl is induced to blow herself up,
and in the process kills a 17-year-old Israeli girl, the future,
itself, is dying -- the future of the Palestinian people and the
future of the Israeli people. We mourn the dead, and we mourn the
damage done to the hope of peace, the hope of Israel's and the
Israelis' desire for a Jewish state at peace with its neighbors; the
hope of the Palestinian people to build their own independent state.
Terror must be stopped. No nation can negotiate with terrorists. For
there is no way to make peace with those whose only goal is death.
This could be a hopeful moment in the Middle East. The proposal of
Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, supported by the Arab League,
has put a number of countries in the Arab world closer than ever to
recognizing Israel's right to exist. The United States is on record
supporting the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for a
Palestinian state.
Israel has recognized the goal of a Palestinian state. The outlines of
a just settlement are clear: two states, Israel and Palestine, living
side by side, in peace and security.
This can be a time for hope. But it calls for leadership, not for
terror. Since September the 11th, I've delivered this message:
everyone must choose; you're either with the civilized world, or
you're with the terrorists. All in the Middle East also must choose
and must move decisively in word and deed against terrorist acts.
The Chairman of the Palestinian Authority has not consistently opposed
or confronted terrorists. At Oslo and elsewhere, Chairman Arafat
renounced terror as an instrument of his cause, and he agreed to
control it. He's not done so.
The situation in which he finds himself today is largely of his own
making. He's missed his opportunities, and thereby betrayed the hopes
of the people he's supposed to lead. Given his failure, the Israeli
government feels it must strike at terrorist networks that are killing
its citizens.
Yet, Israel must understand that its response to these recent attacks
is only a temporary measure. All parties have their own
responsibilities. And all parties owe it to their own people to act.
We all know today's situation runs the risk of aggravating long-term
bitterness and undermining relationships that are critical to any hope
of peace. I call on the Palestinian people, the Palestinian Authority
and our friends in the Arab world to join us in delivering a clear
message to terrorists: blowing yourself up does not help the
Palestinian cause. To the contrary, suicide bombing missions could
well blow up the best and only hope for a Palestinian state.
All states must keep their promise, made in a vote in the United
Nations to actively oppose terror in all its forms. No nation can pick
and choose its terrorist friends. I call on the Palestinian Authority
and all governments in the region to do everything in their power to
stop terrorist activities, to disrupt terrorist financing, and to stop
inciting violence by glorifying terror in state-owned media, or
telling suicide bombers they are martyrs. They're not martyrs. They're
murderers. And they undermine the cause of the Palestinian people.
Those governments, like Iraq, that reward parents for the sacrifice of
their children are guilty of soliciting murder of the worst kind. All
who care about the Palestinian people should join in condemning and
acting against groups like Al-Aqsa, Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad,
and all groups which opposed the peace process and seek the
destruction of Israel.
The recent Arab League support of Crown Prince Abdullah's initiative
for peace is promising, is hopeful, because it acknowledges Israel's
right to exist. And it raises the hope of sustained, constructive Arab
involvement in the search for peace. This builds on a tradition of
visionary leadership, begun by President Sadat and King Hussein, and
carried forward by President Mubarak and King Abdullah.
Now, other Arab states must rise to this occasion and accept Israel as
a nation and as a neighbor. Peace with Israel is the only avenue to
prosperity and success for a new Palestinian state. The Palestinian
people deserve peace and an opportunity to better their lives. They
need their closest neighbor, Israel, to be an economic partner, not a
mortal enemy. They deserve a government that respects human rights and
a government that focuses on their needs -- education and health care
-- rather than feeding their resentments.
It is not enough for Arab nations to defend the Palestinian cause.
They must truly help the Palestinian people by seeking peace and
fighting terror and promoting development.
Israel faces hard choices of its own. Its government has supported the
creation of a Palestinian state that is not a haven for terrorism.
Yet, Israel also must recognize that such a state needs to be
politically and economically viable.
Consistent with the Mitchell plan, Israeli settlement activity in
occupied territories must stop. And the occupation must end through
withdrawal to secure and recognize boundaries consistent with United
Nations Resolutions 242 and 338. Ultimately, this approach should be
the basis of agreements between Israel and Syria and Israel and
Lebanon.
Israel should also show a respect, a respect for and concern about the
dignity of the Palestinian people who are and will be their neighbors.
It is crucial to distinguish between the terrorists and ordinary
Palestinians seeking to provide for their own families.
The Israeli government should be compassionate at checkpoints and
border crossings, sparing innocent Palestinians daily humiliation.
Israel should take immediate action to ease closures and allow
peaceful people to go back to work.
Israel is facing a terrible and serious challenge. For seven days, it
has acted to root out terrorist nests. America recognizes Israel's
right to defend itself from terror. Yet, to lay the foundations of
future peace, I ask Israel to halt incursions into
Palestinian-controlled areas and begin the withdrawal from those
cities it has recently occupied.
I speak as a committed friend of Israel. I speak out of a concern for
its long-term security, a security that will come with a genuine
peace. As Israel steps back, responsible Palestinian leaders and
Israel's Arab neighbors must step forward and show the world that they
are truly on the side of peace. The choice and the burden will be
theirs.
The world expects an immediate cease-fire, immediate resumption of
security cooperation with Israel against terrorism. An immediate order
to crack down on terrorist networks. I expect better leadership, and I
expect results.
These are the elements of peace in the Middle East. And now, we must
build the road to those goals. Decades of bitter experience teach a
clear lesson: progress is impossible when nations emphasize their
grievances and ignore their opportunities. Storms of violence cannot
go on. Enough is enough.
And to those who would try to use the current crisis as an opportunity
to widen the conflict, stay out. Iran's arms shipments and support for
terror fuel the fire of conflict in the Middle East. And it must stop.
Syria has spoken out against al Qaeda. We expect it to act against
Hamas and Hezbollah, as well. It's time for Iran to focus on meeting
its own people's aspirations for freedom and for Syria to decide which
side of the war against terror it is on.
The world finds itself at a critical moment. This is a conflict that
can widen or an opportunity we can seize. And so I've decided to send
Secretary of State Powell to the region next week to seek broad
international support for the vision I've outlined today. As a step in
this process, he will work to implement United Nations Resolution
1402, an immediate and meaningful cease-fire, an end to terror and
violence and incitement; withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian
cities, including Ramallah; implementation of the already agreed upon
Tenet and Mitchell plans, which will lead to a political settlement.
I have no illusions. We have no illusions about the difficulty of the
issues that lie ahead. Yet, our nation's resolve is strong. America is
committed to ending this conflict and beginning an era of peace.
We know this is possible, because in our lifetimes we have seen an end
to conflicts that no one thought could end. We've seen fierce enemies
let go of long histories of strife and anger. America itself counts
former adversaries as trusted friends: Germany and Japan and now
Russia.
Conflict is not inevitable. Distrust need not be permanent. Peace is
possible when we break free of old patterns and habits of hatred. The
violence and grief that troubled the Holy Land have been among the
great tragedies of our time. The Middle East has often been left
behind in the political and economic advancement of the world. That is
the history of the region. But it need not and must not be its fate.
The Middle East could write a new story of trade and development and
democracy. And we stand ready to help. Yet, this progress can only
come in an atmosphere of peace. And the United States will work for
all the children of Abraham to know the benefits of peace.
Thank you very much.
END 11:18 A.M. EST 
(end transcript)
(end text)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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