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21 April 2002

Transcript: Powell Discusses Middle East Crisis on "Fox News Sunday"

(Secretary says U.S. a friend to Israel, can be one to Palestinians as
well) (2250)
Following is a transcript of an interview on "Fox News Sunday" April
21 with Secretary of State Colin Powell, who answered questions on
Middle East developments:
(begin transcript)
Interview on Fox News Sunday
Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
April 21, 2002
MR. HUME: Joining me now to discuss his mission to the Middle East is
Secretary of State Colin Powell. Good morning, Mr. Secretary, and
SECRETARY POWELL: Good morning, Brit.  How are you?
MR. HUME: I'm well, thank you. You got from Ariel Sharon and Israel a
commitment to withdraw according to a certain timetable, which so far
he seems to be meeting. What did you get, if anything, what kind of
commitment of any kind, did you get from Chairman Arafat?
SECRETARY POWELL: From Chairman Arafat, you may recall last Saturday,
we got a strong statement denouncing violence, denouncing the bombing
that had taken place in Jerusalem a day before that --
MR. HUME: And beyond that?
SECRETARY POWELL: And beyond that, I am quite confident we can get
additional statements from him. But, you know, statements aren't
enough. I've said to the Chairman rather directly that I appreciate
the statements; what we really need is action; and it is time for you,
Mr. Chairman, to make a choice to go off this track of violence and
terrorism as a way to a Palestinian state and get on to a track that
talks about getting the security situation under control, let's start
with humanitarian and reconstruction efforts, but above all, let's
find a political way to go forward.
We all have a common vision of a Palestinian state living side by side
in peace with a Jewish state, Israel. It is now the vision of the Arab
League; 22 nations came together and embraced Crown Prince Abdullah's
vision of 22 Arab states living together with Israel. It's a tough
vision to achieve to make reality, but I pressed the Chairman on
moving toward that reality, and away from violence and terror, and to
use his powerful voice. He is the leader of the Palestinian people,
whether one likes that or not, and if that's the mantle that's been
given to him by the Palestinian people, let him now use that position
to speak out against incitement, violence, terror, and tell his people
it is now time to make a different choice.
There will still be those in the Palestinian movement who want to
destroy Israel. That is not going to happen. Israel is strong, and
Israel has a strong friend in the United States. But the Palestinians
can have a friend in the United States as well. We want them to
achieve what they want: a state. President Bush is the first President
who went before the United States and spoke its name: Palestine.
So we are there to help the Palestinian people, not only with that
goal of a state, but also in reconstructing their economy,
reconstructing their infrastructure and their society. And I asked the
Chairman to make a choice to join with us in moving toward that
MR. HUME: And what was his reaction when you asked him to make that
SECRETARY POWELL: He was very forthcoming, as one would expect, but it
is not statements I'm interested in. We'll be observing his actions in
the days and weeks ahead, and I hope that he will have the opportunity
to speak and hope he will have the opportunity to meet with other
leaders and to demonstrate to us, demonstrate to the Israelis,
demonstrate to the whole world that he is prepared to move in this
We have been disappointed many times in the past. I am not nave with
respect to this issue, but we put the choice rather directly to him.
MR. HUME: Now, I know that there is great concern nearly everywhere
about the situation in Jenin, and Bill Burns, representative of the
United States there, someone who is part of your team, has visited the
area and has remarked on what he found there. And I think we can quote
to you from Mr. Burns' quote: "I just think that what we're seeing
here is a terrible human tragedy. It's obvious that what happened here
in the Jenin camp has caused enormous human suffering for thousands of
Palestinian citizens."
I know the United States is making available a serious effort in terms
of aid to deal with the situation that is there now, but Mr.
Secretary, there is a question of what happened there. There is an
allegation that Israeli forces carried out an atrocity, a massacre.
Based on what you know so far, sir, do you see any evidence or have
any reason to believe that there were war crimes, atrocities, or a
massacre by the Israelis in Jenin?
SECRETARY POWELL: I have no way of knowing. That's why the United
States helped draft and was very supportive of a UN resolution on
Friday which will send a fact-finding team in, with technical experts
and very, very wise people, to take a look at this situation and see
what happened in Jenin.
I've spoken four times in the last 24 hours with Assistant Secretary
Burns, and we are deeply troubled at the situation in Jenin, just from
the standpoint that there are people desperately in need. So we have
authorized the shipment in the next 24 to 48 hours of some 800
family-size tents to help those people who lost their homes, enough
water purification equipment to take care of 10,000 people every day,
and we're sending in several, a little bit more than a thousand
disease prevention kits to deal with the likelihood of some diseases
taking root in this terrible situation.
So we're going to do everything we can to help. We've committed
several hundred thousand dollars already, and we'll do more. But it's
important for the UN team to get in and make its assessment before we
start throwing charges around.
MR. HUME: Now, I read in Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper, that the
Israelis are hoping and have asked the United States to help in
keeping several people out of the UN investigation into what happened
at Jenin, one of them being of course the Norwegian representative who
was so outspoken on this issue -- feel about that, sir? Can the UN,
with those three people involved, be trusted to do an honest
investigation of what happened in Jenin?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I don't want to speak for the UN. I'll let
Kofi Annan work out the composition of his team with the parties in
the region. And I'm sure that Secretary General Annan will put
together a strong team -- one that will be fair, one that will be
balanced, and one that will be seeking nothing but the truth.
MR. HUME: And is the United States pressing him in that regard at all,
or not?
SECRETARY POWELL: I haven't talked to Secretary General Annan. And
you're quoting from a newspaper article that I guess came out this
morning, so I haven't had a chance to study it. And I'm sure that I'll
be speaking to the Secretary General in the next 24 hours and get his
assessment of the nature of the team he wants to put in. But that will
be his judgment. He has to make the judgment as to what kind of a team
should go in.
MR. HUME: Let me ask you about your visits to Lebanon and Syria. After
your visits there, sir, the shelling didn't completely stop, but it
was almost completely stopped. It looks like you had a success there.
Tell me, what did you say to those two leaders, and what did they say
to you?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I spoke to both the President and Prime
Minister of Lebanon, as well as the Foreign Minister, and I met with
the Foreign Minister and President of Syria. And I pressed upon them
the necessity of making sure that Hezbollah did not take action across
what is called the Blue Line, the border between south Lebanon and
north Israel, that would inflame the situation and force Israel to
react, and we'd find ourselves with another front, so to speak, in
addition to the front in the occupied territories.
And so I made sure they understood the strength of our position. And I
wasn't carrying water for Israel; this was the United States'
position, and they took it seriously. We had a good discussion about
it, and I am pleased that in the days that followed things seemed to
have calmed down. But I would not say that this is a solved problem.
Things have calmed down; they can heat up again. But I think we had a
pretty good success with those visits.
MR. HUME: Now, when you got to Egypt on your way home, it had been
expected you were going to meet with President Mubarak. He did not
hold that meeting. Did you arrive there in your plane -- when your
plane touched down there, or even before, you were expecting to see
him? What happened, in your view?
SECRETARY POWELL: No, I wasn't expecting to see him. Two nights
earlier, he and I had spoken on the phone. He wanted my assessment,
and I told him where I was. I told him that we had worked out a
timeline with the Prime Minister for the withdrawal of his forces this
week, and I discussed other things with President Mubarak. And he said
come back through Egypt, and I'd like to talk to you, because we do
this all the time when I'm passing through the region.
The next day, I got word that he was ill and had gone home and taken
to his bed, so on the next day when I went to Egypt, I was really not
expecting to see him. So I met with his Foreign Minister, who is
really my counterpart, and the Jordanian Foreign Minister, who came in
to join that conversation. And I spoke to President Mubarak on a cell
phone from the hotel conference room that I was meeting with the
foreign ministers in, and he was sick.
MR. HUME: No snub?
MR. HUME: Now, Mr. Secretary, the President said this week that Ariel
Sharon is a man of peace. Do you agree with that assessment?
SECRETARY POWELL: You know, Prime Minister Sharon and I have had many,
many conversations. He is facing a tough problem with terrorist
attacks, and he has acted against that vigorously. He needs security
for his people. But we have never had a conversation where he
immediately did not also say that he remains committed to the Tenet
work plan; he remains committed to the Mitchell peace process; he
remains committed to negotiations that will lead to a Palestinian
state. And so in that regard, he knows that a political solution is
necessary, and peace must be made.
I've had similar conversations with Chairman Arafat. I have pressed
Chairman Arafat on the simple point that you must move away and have
everybody in your movement move away from violence and terror if you
want the United States to help you achieve your goal of a Palestinian
state living side by side with a Jewish state called Israel. And so I
think that everybody realizes peace has to be the answer, and I want
to make sure that everybody understands that, commits themselves to
it. They must all be peacemakers.
MR. HUME: So you would share the characterization that he is a man of
SECRETARY POWELL: I think he is interested in making peace. And if
that makes him a man of peace, fine. And if Chairman Arafat is
similarly interested, then we can go forward. I think everybody
realizes -- those in positions of leadership -- that you will not
achieve the goal that everybody has, if that goal is a Palestinian
state, without getting to the table, without discussing peace, without
discussing the very difficult issues that are before both sides.
But both sides need to understand that we have to get the violence
down in order for people to have the confidence and comfort level
necessary to go into negotiations. That is why when I was there, I
think one of the successful parts of my visit was to bring in the
consensus of the international community for my meetings with the
European Union, the United Nations, and the Russian Federation in
Madrid, take that strong message into the region with me, visiting the
Arab states; and then take that strong message into Israel and talk to
everybody there, everybody in the region, about the need for security,
the need to more quickly move to political discussions, and the need
for a strong humanitarian component to all of this.
That is also why Assistant Secretary Bill Burns, when he leaves the
region in a couple of days time, will be going directly to Oslo to
participate in a donors conference to provide additional support for
the Palestinian people.
MR. HUME: Mr. Secretary, it's a pleasure to have you this morning.
Thank you very much, sir.
(end transcript)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site:

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