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07 April 2002

Transcript: Powell Says Cease-Fire Critical to Restarting Political Process

(End to violence and military withdrawal vital to region's future)
Secretary of State Colin Powell said that his upcoming trip would
focus on stopping the violence between Israel and the Palestinians,
and finding a way to restart the political process that is the only
way to provide peace and security for both sides.
"I'm just as convinced today as I was the first day I stepped into the
office that that has to be our goal," Secretary Powell said, "to get
that cease-fire, or you can't get to a political process."
Appearing on the Fox News Sunday television program, Powell said that
the President called for Israeli military withdrawal because the
occupation, however justified as a response to terrorist attacks, is
causing long-term damage to relationships and governments throughout
the region.
"I spoke to Prime Minister Sharon again early this morning," Powell
said, adding that he is confident that Israel will respond "without
delay," as President Bush requested.
Powell noted that he discussed the humanitarian dimension of the
Israeli incursion with Sharon as well, and that innocent Palestinians
"cannot get food, water supplies have been interrupted, power's been
interrupted, there have been problems in medical services, and these
issues have to be dealt with as well."
Powell said that Chairman Arafat also bears heavy responsibilities in
this crisis. "There have been attempts at suicide bombings," Powell
noted. "The Israelis have been able to thwart them."
"In this crisis," Powell said, "Arafat has got to act like a leader.
He has got to speak out against the kind of violence we've been
seeing, and he has to do everything in his power - as restricted as
those powers are, they are still there - he has to do everything in
his power to try to control the passions of the Palestinian people and
to help us get out of this crisis."
In the end, Powell observed, there can be no alternative to
negotiations that bring together the Palestinians, Israel, Arab
nations, the United States, and the world community to secure a
political solution.
Following is a transcript of Secretary Powell's interview with Fox
News Sunday on April 7:
(begin transcript)
Fox News Sunday 
April 07, 2002 
Transcript: Colin Powell
Following is a partial transcript of Fox News Sunday, April 7, 2002.
TONY SNOW, HOST, FOX NEWS SUNDAY: Well, Secretary of State Colin
Powell travels to Europe and the Middle East today in an effort to
stop the violence between Israel and the Palestinians and restart a
peace process. He joins us for a preview of that trip.
Let's begin first by talking about the very latest. Israel has, in its
own words, sped up, accelerated operations in the West Bank. The
president has called for withdrawal without delay. Has Israel
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: What the president asked Prime
Minister Sharon to do was to begin the process of withdrawal and to do
it now. I'm pleased to hear that the prime minister says he is
expediting his operations, "speeding them up" is the word your
correspondent used. And your correspondent also indicated that there
was a move to begin leaving from cities that have been occupied.
I hope that Prime Minister Sharon took President Bush's injunction
very much to heart and will speed this up and start to withdraw, as
President Bush said, without delay. And he means now.
SNOW: This is a little confusing to many of us. The president - most
people think withdrawal without delay means start rolling tanks
backward. Instead, what's going on is more troops are being parachuted
into the area, taken into the area.
There is an accelerated pace of military operations. That is not
inconsistent with the president's request?
POWELL: The president doesn't give orders to a sovereign prime
minister of another country. But as one of Israel's best friends and
most supportive friends, I think Prime Minister Sharon has taken very
much to heart and he understands clearly the message the president
gave to him. I spoke to Prime Minister Sharon again early this
morning, and I'm quite sure he understands that message. And the
president is expecting without delay, meaning now. And so we'll see
how the prime minister responds in the very near future.
SNOW: Let's back up. Israel moved into the West Bank nine days ago.
Was it justified in doing so in response to bombings?
POWELL: Israel acted in its own self-defense, something that the prime
minister has every right to do. The people of Israel expect the prime
minister to act in the self-defense of the society. And he acted
because of the massacre that took place on Passover Eve, yet another
horrible incident where some 27 people died, the latest casualty
count, as the wounded have died. And he acted at that time. And we
understood the reason for his action, but we also suggested that he
had to be somewhat considerate of the consequences of that action. We
were concerned that too big an incursion, too much military force
might have other consequences, and we said so at the time.
SNOW: So ...
POWELL: We have now had several days to see those consequences unfold.
And while he is doing what he feels he needs to do in an act of
self-defense, the consequences are affecting Israel and the United
States and the interest of peace and the interest of the political
When we have demonstrations and riots throughout that part of the
world, throughout the Middle East, and when we start to see some long-
established relationships between Israel and some of its neighbors and
the United States and some of those neighbors start to be damaged
perhaps in an irrevocable way with respect to Israel, the president
thought that we had to take consideration of those potential
And that's why he called Prime Minister Sharon yesterday and why he
gave his speech last Thursday, saying that we understand what you were
doing but this is the time to start moving in the other direction. And
that's why we have supported the U.N. resolution saying that as well.
SNOW: So he was justified originally in going in...
POWELL: We're saying we understood why he went in. He went in in an
act of self-defense. But we think that we are now seeing consequences
from the massive nature of this incursion that are starting to have
negative consequences.
SNOW: We're worried, in other words, about the Arab street.
POWELL: We are worried about a lot of things. I am first and foremost
worried about the peace process and first and foremost worried about
getting to a political settlement.
Because, for however long the Israeli incursion lasts, whether it ends
tomorrow or whether it ends a month from tomorrow or two months from
tomorrow, we'll be right back where we are today, and that is a need
to find a way for these two peoples to live side by side in two
states, a Jewish state called Israel and a Palestinian state called
And no matter how effective the Israeli defense forces are in the
period ahead, however long they're going to conduct this operation,
when it's over, they will have to pull back. They have no intention of
staying there. The prime minister reiterated that repeatedly. And
there will still be those who, if they don't see a solution, if they
don't see a political process, they will resort once again to
terrorism and violence.
And we may well be radicalizing a new generation, many more terrorists
waiting to act once this incursion is over.
SNOW: Nevertheless, there have been no suicide bombings since the
Israeli incursion. Is that a coincidence or a consequence of ...
POWELL: There have been attempts at suicide bombings. The Israelis
have been able to thwart them. And just this morning, the prime
minister was telling me about another car bomb that got stopped. And
so, I think the massive presence of Israeli troops certainly is a
deterrent to this kind of suicide attack, and I'm pleased that that
has been the effect.
But we have to realize that, sooner or later, Israel will withdraw its
forces, and those same pressures will be there, that same frustration
will be there, that same anger will be there. And perhaps it'll be
even greater and will give rise to this kind of activity again -
unless the Palestinians see hope, unless the Palestinians see Israel,
the United States, the Palestinian leaders, the Arab leaders, the
international community all coming together to support a cease- fire
which rapidly leads to negotiations that will create a political
The anger will not be dealt with, and the frustration of the
Palestinian people, whether you think it's justified or not, their
anger, their frustration, their desire for a state will not be
satisfied by military force. You can't keep this pressure on them
forever. Sooner or later, it can only be satisfied by a political
process that gives them a state. And the sooner you get to that point,
the better.
SNOW: I want to get to that in a minute, but a couple more questions
about Israel first.
Does the United States have a specific deadline for Israeli withdrawal
from the West Bank?
POWELL: The president said yesterday to the prime minister that he
expects it without delay. And by that he means now, start now.
SNOW: We understand start. When does he want it finished?
POWELL: He didn't talk about a specific deadline. It's been a massive
build-up. It isn't going to be over when they do start to withdraw.
It's not going to be over in a day. It took a while to do it, and they
are still conducting operations.
And so, the president and the prime minister did not talk about a
specific end point.
SNOW: How long will you stay?
POWELL: I have not decided yet. As you know, I leave tonight for
Morocco to meet with Crown Prince Abdullah, who is in Morocco at this
time. It gives me a time to see King Muhammed. On to Egypt to consult
with President Mubarak and others. Madrid to talk to my European
colleagues, Kofi Annan, the security general, and Igor Ivanov, the
Russian foreign minister who will be there. And then back to the
region, probably directly to Jerusalem. And when I get to Jerusalem,
I'll make a judgment as to how long I will stay there.
SNOW: How will you measure success?
POWELL: You know, I can't answer that question right now. I would be -
I would be absolutely delighted and very pleased if we are able to get
a cease-fire in place in the not-too-distant future. Whether it's a
result of my efforts, or just because it makes sense, or the results
of the efforts of many, many others.
Anybody who thinks that in one week's time anybody can go there and
come back with a completely satisfactory solution - but if we have
brought the violence down, if we have started to create a dialogue
again between the two sides, then my trip will have been worth the
energy that I'm going to put into it and the effort we're going to put
into it.
SNOW: Do you believe Yasser Arafat is interested in a cease- fire?
POWELL: I believe Yasser Arafat, by his statements, is interested in a
cease-fire. But he has not done what he should have been doing to
achieve such a cease-fire and get to the political process that he
needs - we all need. He could have done more with respect to
controlling the passions of his people by speaking out against
violence, by not encouraging this kind of activity. He could have done
more with the security forces that he has under his control. He could
have done a lot more, and he did not. And his efforts are a
disappointment to us. They were a disappointment to the previous
But nevertheless, I still think he has come to the realization that
there is no way forward other than through a cease-fire and a
political process. He will not be able to defeat Israel if anyone
thinks that is in his mind, or in the mind of any Palestinian leader.
It will not happen.
And so all we're doing is killing lots of innocent people by this kind
of activity. We're killing lots of innocent, young Palestinians who
commit this act of murder called suicide bombing, and we're killing
lots of innocents on the other side, and other Palestinian innocents
are killed in the response that comes back the other way. So we've got
to bring this to an end.
SNOW: You've said you're not yet decided on whether you're going to
meet Yasser Arafat. However, Palestinian Authority spokesmen have
said, you don't talk to him, you don't talk to anybody. You need to
talk to both sides, do you not?
POWELL: I have to talk to both sides. I mean, if you're going to have
a dialogue, and if you're going to try and get people to talk to one
another about a cease-fire, then you have to be able to talk to both
I have talked to Mr. Arafat on the phone as recently as last Monday.
It's a little more difficult to do now. And I have met with him three
times. General Zinni has met with him, our special envoy. And so we
have spoken to him in the past. And if circumstances permit while I'm
there, I will try to speak to him and others.
SNOW: "Circumstances permit" meaning the Israeli cabinet gives you
POWELL: It could mean a lot of things. There are security issues,
there are access issues, there - what agenda we will have. We'll just
wait and see how the next several days unfold.
SNOW: If you could not meet him personally, would you talk to him by
phone even though you...
POWELL: I talk to him by phone now, and we'll see.
SNOW: All right. Now, Israel says it has uncovered evidence that
Yasser Arafat was directly involved in helping pay for explosives that
have been used by suicide bombers. Is that true?
POWELL: I don't know. I haven't - I've seen some public presentations
of the evidence, and I'm sure it's going to be made available to our
side, but I haven't myself seen the evidence. And it is very damaging
if the evidence does exist, if that's correct.
SNOW: The Al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades, the State Department has now
identified that as a terrorist organization. It is assumed that that
is directly under Yasser Arafat's control. It's leader has said as
If Yasser Arafat is in control of a terrorist organization, why would
he not be considered a terrorist?
POWELL: It's not clear what he is in control of and what he isn't in
control of. This is not quite the sort of hierarchical organization
that I grew up living under, and there are loose aggregations. But
clearly the Al-Aqsa Brigade is dedicated exclusively to terrorism, and
that's why we have put them on our terrorist list.
SNOW: The president has said, and you've just said in the last couple
of minutes, you want Yasser Arafat to take specific number of steps.
Are there any steps that he must take before you will meet with him?
POWELL: I haven't laid out any specific steps. And we'll consider, as
I conduct my consultations in the region, exactly what circumstances I
would like to see met or have to be in place for me to have a
conversation with him.
SNOW: If he does not meet conditions that the president or you lay
out, what do we do? Anything?
POWELL: Well, let's wait and see whether or not "conditions" is the
right formulation. What I want to do is begin a dialogue. He did meet
with General Zinni last week, and Special Envoy Zinni said to him that
it was very important for him to agree to the plan that Tony Zinni had
put forward to bridge the differences between the two sides in getting
toward a cease-fire under the Tenet proposal. We would like to pursue
One of the problems right now is that Mr. Arafat's isolation is as
such that he has no contact with his principal advisers who could help
bring us to this decision point where we could get agreement on
General Zinni's proposal. And so we're trying to open up some
communications between Chairman Arafat and his advisers, and therefore
have an opportunity to move forward.
SNOW: You mean the only problem here is phone lines?
POWELL: Well, it's more than phone lines. I think he has to be able to
consult with his advisers, and right now he's pretty isolated. But
phone lines are also a problem. He essentially is quite isolated.
SNOW: Since he returned to the region in 1994 as a result of the Oslo
Accords the previous year, what has he done to advance peace?
POWELL: We had the Oslo Accord in 1993. We have, of course, the
signing ceremony that took place on the lawn of the White House.
Creation of the Palestinian Authority, a peace treaty with Jordan in
1995. And there was a period of quiet in the late '90s. So it shows he
can perform.
But unfortunately, all of the efforts that were made during President
Clinton's administration did not result in the comprehensive agreement
that we were all looking for as a result of the Oslo process. They
never got there. And President Clinton gave it his all. He and
Secretary Albright and National Security Advisor Berger and Dennis
Ross and so many other people put their heart and soul into trying to
get that agreement. And they came quite close to what would have been
an historic agreement at the end of the Clinton administration, but
neither side could agree to it at the end of the day.
And so we came in office, and what we found was a process that had
fallen apart, and an Israeli government that had put out of office
because the Israeli people were looking for an end to the intifada
through security, the kind of security that Prime Minister Sharon
promised in his campaign.
And so, for the last year, we've been trying to reach that level of
security and confidence and in the form of a cease-fire so that the
two sides could get back to the negotiating table. And that's what we
have been unable to achieve. But I'm just as convinced today as I was
the first day I stepped into the office that that has to be our goal,
to get that cease-fire, or you can't get to a political process.
I'm also convinced that, once you get that cease-fire in place - and I
think it will come in due course because neither side will prevail on
their current course. So once we get that cease-fire, it is important
that the political process be moved up. We have to quickly get to
negotiations, because the Palestinian people are looking to those
negotiations for the creation of a state.
And we have to look for a way to get that state created as quickly as
possible so both sides then have a vested interest in negotiating the
permanent boundaries of the state, deciding how the two sides will
live in peace with each other, restoring their economies - both
economies are being destroyed right now.
SNOW: OK, we're going to take a quick break. We want to tease out the
implications of all that.
Stay with us. We'll have more with Secretary of State Colin Powell in
just a couple of minutes.
BUSH: There's no way to make peace with those whose only goal is
SNOW: And we're back with Secretary of State Colin Powell. Also here
with questions, Brit Hume, Washington managing editor of Fox News.
Secretary Powell, one more question about Yasser Arafat. A lot of
people are interpreting the president's remarks, where he says "Arafat
is not a man of his word," and he expresses a lot of disappointment,
are interpreting the president's remarks as saying, "This is Arafat's
last chance." Is it?
POWELL: Well, the president certainly expressed the disappointment we
all feel in Chairman Arafat's performance. Whether it's his last
chance or not, I don't know. Maybe he doesn't have any more chances.
But I know this, that in this crisis he has got to act like a leader.
He has got to speak out against the kind of violence we've been
seeing, and he has to do everything in his power - as restricted as
those powers are, they are still there - he has to do everything in
his power to try to control the passions of the Palestinian people and
to help us get out of this crisis.
SNOW: So he's got to crack down on his media?
POWELL: He's got to crack down on his media as well. I'm going to make
this case to the Arab leaders I meet with this week. We need more
responsible statements coming out of Arab capitals. We need all Arab
leaders to act responsibly in this time of crisis.
BRIT HUME: Mr. Secretary, if Chairman Arafat doesn't respond in the
way that the president and you have prescribed, what then? What's the
consequences for him, as far as we're concerned?
POWELL: I don't know what those consequences might be. Chairman
Arafat, whether one likes it or not and whether one approves of it or
not, does occupy a position in Palestinian society. He is seen by the
Palestinian people as their leader, and that has to be taken into
account. He is also the chairman of the Palestinian Authority.
We don't think he has discharged those duties as well as he should,
either as a leader or the chairman. And this is time for him to act.
But consequences, we'll just have to adjust our policies as we go
forward and see.
HUME: Mr. Secretary, no sooner had the president spoken on Thursday,
then we had a response here in Washington from the representative of
the government of Saudi Arabia, Prince Bandar, who wrote in an op-ed
piece in the Washington Post, read many places, widely circulated by
the Saudi Embassy to make sure nobody missed it, that appeared to fly
in the face of much of what the president had said.
I believe we have a couple of quotations from that to take a look at.
"The Palestinian people," he said, "are burdened by tremendous
suffering and calamity as a result of the continuing aggression of the
Israeli government and the insane policies of its leader" - that, of
course, a reference to Ariel Sharon. Prince Bandar went on to say
other things as well about Israeli terrorism and so on.
My question to you, sir, is, how do you interpret that in the
immediate aftermath of the statement made by the president and your
repeated calls for a more responsible approach by Arab leaders?
POWELL: I don't think that Prince Bandar wrote that or published that
letter or gave the speech from which the letter is drawn with
knowledge of what the president was going to say or do.
But what Prince Bandar is reflecting in that article and the speech
that he gave, and what other Arab leaders are reflecting, is the anger
that exists within their societies. It is not for me to tell Prince
Bandar what he should say or not say. But there is a level of anger
that is rising in the Arab land that is of concern to us, and should
be of concern to Israel.
Israel, in this current operation, will certainly round up terrorists,
will find incriminating information, will find weapons. But when the
operation is over and they withdraw, as they say they are going to do,
they will still leave behind those who are committed to violence. In
fact, they may leave more behind as a result of the radicalization.
And what troubles us is we are losing some of the support that we have
had in the Arab world - Egypt, Jordan, you see Saudi Arabia, you saw
statements of the foreign ministers - losing some of the support we
had for the kind of engagement that is needed with Israel to find a
way forward.
And this is really what caused the president to say to Prime Minister
Sharon at the very beginning of this operation, "consider the
consequences of your actions." And we're starting to see those
consequences and how it affects Israel's long-term relationship with
its neighbors and our long-term relationship with its neighbors, that
caused the president to say, "This is the time the end this activity
and begin the withdrawal now."
HUME: Well, in addition to the Bandar expression, you have the
reaction of the Arab League foreign ministers' meeting. They, like
Saudi Arabia's Bandar, say nothing of the terrorist attacks that we
have so decried against Israeli citizens. They speak as if these
attacks do not exist.
You now go to face Crown Prince Abdullah. What hope do you have that
if that is the attitude of his government, and these other Arab
governments which you hope to have some success, that you will have
any success?
POWELL: They know that these acts of terrorism are destructive of the
peace process. They know that these acts of terrorism have to stop.
And that's what I will talk to them about and reinforce that, and say
that we are expecting them to do more to help the Palestinian people
and to bring this kind of activity under control.
POWELL: But what you're seeing in these statements, these very strong
statements that are coming out of foreign ministers, coming out of
good friends of the United States, such as Prince Bandar, who has been
a supporter of all of these efforts - Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia is
the one who went to the Arab summit and got a statement out of that
summit that would have been a historic statement, except for the
message being drowned out by the suicide bombing on Passover eve. And
so, the Saudis are prepared to play a more powerful, active,
supportive role.
But what you're seeing in these statements is a reflection of the
passions that exist within their own societies. And so, they feel a
need to speak out in order to represent the views of their people,
just as others are representing the views of their people and acting
in response to the passions of their people. And this is the kind of
activity that is causing us to be concerned about the effect of this
continuing incursion.
SNOW: Mr. Secretary, the president called upon Arab leaders to lead.
He made that statement yesterday. He's made it a number of times.
The conventional wisdom is - and I want you to help us out with this -
that what we're saying to them is, OK, you need to deal with Yasser
Arafat. You need to insist that he crack down on terror. You need to
insist that he give, in Arabic, speeches that condemn terror. You need
to make sure that he changes textbooks and so on.
Is that the role we want our Arab allies to play?
POWELL: You certainly touched on some of the points I'll be discussing
with our Arab friends, and asking to play a more active role in these
kinds of activities, yes.
SNOW: They are also going to argue to you that Israel has committed
atrocities in this war. It's a war. Jennifer Griffin had talked about
bodies rotting in the streets. You have heard stories about the
inability of ambulances to get through.
Are those legitimate complaints?
POWELL: In my conversation with Prime Minister Sharon this morning, I
made the point that there is a humanitarian dimension to this
incursion, as well. And there are Palestinians in these cities who are
innocent, who are not terrorists, but they cannot get the food, water
supplies have been interrupted, power's been interrupted, there have
been problems in medical services, and these issues have to be dealt
with as well.
And I think he understands it, and I think he's going to try to do
everything he can to move in this direction, to help with these
humanitarian issues. But that's also why the president, watching this
unfold over the last several days, said this is the time to bring this
to an end, to start the process of withdrawal as soon as possible,
meaning now.
SNOW: But you are a military man. Do you know of any case in history
where a dispute of this sort, that involves land, that involves old
passions, is resolved before one side wins a war and, therefore, has
the ability to dictate terms of a truce?
POWELL: Israel has not declared a war that it wants to win. It is
fighting terrorism. It is not trying to take over these lands. Israel
has as its goal the creation of a Palestinian state. Israel will never
live in peace if it has to occupy each and every city, village and
town in the West Bank and Gaza. That is not what it wants.
SNOW: So stipulated. But on the other hand, you still have a number of
people, do you not, in the West Bank who want Israel to vanish?
POWELL: They will not be successful if they have that view and that
vision. Israel would not vanish. It is not going anywhere. That is
what the Arab leaders said in Beirut a few days ago. Twenty-two
nations agreed that we have to find a solution, so that Israel can
live in peace and in normal relations with 22 Arab nations. The Arab
League understands this, and that was the statement they put down the
day we had the terrible massacre.
There was such promise on that Wednesday afternoon, with this
statement from the Arab League. It was just a vision. It would have
taken a lot of difficult negotiation to make that vision a reality.
We had General Zinni there, just about to get an agreement on going
forward with a cease-fire. We had good U.N. resolutions. There was so
much promise, so much promise on that afternoon. And it was all
destroyed by the terrible act of violence against innocent Israeli
civilians practicing their faith on Passover Eve.
HUME: Is it not your concern, sir, that as you go on this mission,
that even if you are able to bring the two parties close, even to a
cease-fire, that all it will take is one more act of that kind by
someone, perhaps, discouraged even by Palestinian leaders to blow the
whole thing up again?
POWELL: Of course it's a concern. But we should have no illusions that
all suicide bombers now and forever are going away and giving up that
method of terror, because Israel has been in the West Bank towns for
three weeks or three months. That problem will continue to exist until
the Palestinian people and the Palestinian leaders can persuade the
Palestinian people that this is not a tactic that will be successful,
it is not needed, we have a peace process, we have a political way of
achieving our vision and finding a better life for our people, and it
does not come through suicide bombings and terror.
HUME: And, yet, sir, you acknowledged earlier on this broadcast that
the Israeli military operation appears to have had some role in
suppressing that level of violence.
That being the case, isn't it a lot to ask of Israel to give this up?
POWELL: There's no question that it has had an effect. This massive
presence of Israeli troops certainly has that kind of deterrent
effect, although Prime Minister Sharon mentioned to me this morning
that they intercepted a car bomb. So that will always be there.
And if the Israeli defense forces want to spend from now on occupying
every city, town, and village and suppressing the entire population,
then perhaps they may succeed in keeping this kind of activity from
taking place. But that is not their intent, and they know that that
does not lead to a permanent solution.
SNOW: Finally, Mr. Secretary, the president and Prime Minister Tony
Blair yesterday talked at some length, both directly and indirectly,
about Iraq. Is it the case that, as long as we have the violence going
on in the West Bank and in Israel, that it will be impossible for the
United States to conduct an operation against Iraq?
POWELL: The United States is not yet planning an operation against
Iraq. As both the president and the prime minister said, we're in
close consultation with our friends and allies, especially the United
Kingdom. And the president has no recommendation on his desk, and he
has made no decision with respect to a military operation.
All options are open. And obviously, the kind of situation we find in
the Middle East now complicates our thinking and complicates the
consideration of options. But it is not a real and present problem,
because the president does not have on his desk the real and present
SNOW: All right. Secretary of State Colin Powell, thanks for joining
us, and good luck.
POWELL: Thank you, Tony. Thank you, Brit. 
(end transcript)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site:

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