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21 April 2002

Transcript: Powell Discusses Middle East Crisis on CBS's "Face the Nation"

(Secretary says U.S. sending assistance to Jenin refugee camp) (2080)
Following is a transcript of an interview on CBS's "Face the Nation"
April 21 with Secretary of State Colin Powell, who answered questions
on Middle East developments:
(begin transcript)
Interview on CBS' Face the Nation
Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
April 21, 2002
MR. SCHIEFFER: Joining us now from the State Department, the Secretary
of State Colin Powell. Mr. Secretary, thank you for coming. You, of
course, are visiting a lot of the Sunday morning shows this morning.
We appreciate you being here.
You have been talking about Chairman Arafat and saying we've heard
statements from him, but it's not statements that you want now; you
want to see some action from him. What action would you like to see
him take at this point?
SECRETARY POWELL: One of the most powerful things he could do is to
use his position of leadership within the Palestinian movement, among
the Palestinian people, to speak out against violence, to speak out
against incitement, to tell his people that the way to the state that
they want, the Palestinian state called Palestine, is through peace
and negotiations with Israel and with the help of the international
I told Chairman Arafat that the United States stands ready, as always,
to help, and to help even more, to be more aggressive in seeking that
outcome, but only if there is a clear, clear signal, and clear action,
on the part of the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian people
that they're moving away from terror and violence.
I think he can also do more with the institutions that are under his
control. I recognize that he is rather isolated in his current
circumstances, and we are trying to find a way to solve that, and it
has to be solved in a nonviolent way. But even in his constrained
circumstances, he has the ability to reach out and talk to leaders
within the Palestinian Authority and units within the Palestinian
Authority to begin security cooperation with Israel, to put down those
who are fomenting violence, and to go after those organizations that
are not only killing innocent Israeli citizens, but who are killing
the dream of a Palestinian state through such actions.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Well, Mr. Secretary, that does raise a point as far as
I'm concerned, and that is, when you were visiting with Chairman
Arafat, did you get any indication that he wants peace at this time,
that he thinks that's a strategy in his interest at this time?
SECRETARY POWELL: I think he understands that where he is taking his
people is not a successful road. Now, people will argue with that, but
what I saw was a man trapped in a building who gave a statement after
we implored him to do so that said he is condemning violence, he is
condemning suicide bombing. He condemned the bombing in Jerusalem the
day before. He has made such statements in the past, but he made them
in a powerful way again this time, and we have been working with him
on additional statements he could make.
What I also said to him is now that the statements are there, Mr.
Chairman, you've got to take action; we've got to see action. And so I
am hoping that if we resolve the situation at the Mukataa in a
peaceful way, and as Israeli troops move back out of Area A, as they
are now doing, we will see whether or not he is prepared to move in a
new direction. I'm not nave; I just didn't come in from the country
somewhere, but we will see. And I told him we have to see positive
action that suggests you have made a strategic choice.
MS. BORGER: Well, Israeli leaders say that they are going to keep Mr.
Arafat in this Ramallah compound until he hands over these three
people that they suspect were involved in killing an Israeli cabinet
minister. Should Arafat turn over these men?
SECRETARY POWELL: We find a difficult situation here. Chairman Arafat
believes that he is controlling them under the provisions of the
bilateral agreement that he has with Israel, and Israel feels just as
strongly that they have to be turned over to Israeli jurisdiction to
be tried before an Israeli tribunal -- two strongly held views. We
have some ideas as to how these two views might be bridged. We are
exploring those ideas. There are others in the international community
that are talking to us about ways to bridge this difference.
MS. BORGER: What kind of ideas?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I don't want to share them publicly because,
obviously, these are sensitive negotiations. But I think what we are
asking is time to explore these ideas, and let's just see if we can
take the time necessary to find a peaceful solution and not try to
bring this to some kind of violent end.
MS. BORGER: Well, the Israelis are also talking about possibly exiling
Mr. Arafat. Do you think that would be a good idea?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I'm not sure what they have in mind. Exiling
him somewhere out of the region just gives him a larger platform on
which to stand. So right now, in dealing with the reality of Chairman
Arafat still in Ramallah, and at the moment I expect him to stay in
the region, whether it's in Ramallah or some other place in the
region, that remains to be seen.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Well, when you went to the Middle East, you went after
the President made a speech. He told the Israelis to pull back. He
said enough is enough. Obviously there was no cease-fire while you
were there. Let's talk about the Israelis for a minute. What do they
need to do now, and where is the situation at this point, do you
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, it was on the 4th of April that the President
gave his speech and asked the Israelis to withdraw. It didn't happen
immediately, and we always knew that an operation has to sort of come
to a stop before you can start pulling back. And it's now a little
over two weeks and two days since the President gave that speech, and
the withdrawal is taking place, and it's taking place in accordance
with the schedule that I discussed with Prime Minister Sharon earlier
last week during the course of my trip and as part of our discussions.
So I am pleased that it is now happening. It doesn't mean the crisis
is over. Israeli units are still poised on the edges of these cities,
and to some extent they have great control, a lot of control, over who
can go in and out, and we're trying to get that access opened up so
humanitarian workers can go in and out and so we can get these cities
back to some state of normalcy.
So this crisis isn't over, but the withdrawal is well underway two and
a half weeks after the President wanted it -- not as fast as we would
have liked, but according to the schedule that Prime Minister Sharon
and I discussed about a week ago.
MR. SCHIEFFER: So at this point, you're satisfied with the Israeli
actions and what the Israeli government is doing?
MR. SCHIEFFER: You're not?
SECRETARY POWELL: I'm not completely satisfied. I would like to see
the withdrawal continue until there is no question about it, and I
would ultimately like to see those units back in their garrisons and
not poised in the way they are, and I would like to see the cities
opened up so that we can start to see normal life resume and so that
there are no restrictions with respect to the provision of
humanitarian aid.
So we are moving, we are moving in a good direction right now, but it
is not yet over.
MS. BORGER: Mr. Secretary, the Israelis have also now agreed to a
special investigation about just what happened in Jenin. There was a
UN envoy who went to that area and he came out saying that Israel has
lost all moral authority in this conflict as a result of what he saw
in Jenin. How concerned are you about that?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, Assistant Secretary of State Bill Burns went
to Jenin on Friday, and he called me several times in the last 24
hours with a disturbing report about the human tragedies that have
taken place there, of people who were in desperate need. And that is
why within the next 24 to 48 hours the United States will be
delivering some 800 family-size tents for the many hundreds of
families who have been left homeless. We'll also be sending in water
purification units and disease control units. We're working with
friends in the international community to send in ordnance disposal
teams to help the parties get rid of unexploded ordnance and to get
rid of booby traps. So we are concerned.
I am pleased that the Israeli government has agreed that a UN team
should come in and find out the facts so that we just don't go on the
basis of anecdotes, and I'm pleased that the United States played the
leadership role in bringing about that UN resolution on Friday night.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. Secretary, that brings up an interesting point, and
that is the President talked this week about some sort of Marshall
Plan, some sort of economic rebuilding in Afghanistan. Did you talk to
Chairman Arafat about the possibility of something like that if a
Palestinian state is established?
SECRETARY POWELL: Yes. If you go back to the press conference that I
gave as I was leaving Israel, the press conference I gave in Jerusalem
on Wednesday, I talked about three elements to our strategic framework
moving forward: the security element, get the violence down, hopefully
to zero, but at least down to the point where people can start talking
to one another again on security cooperation, have the confidence to
move forward.
And then the second leg of our strategy is a political leg. We have to
get into discussions and negotiations early so that people can start
to see that there is hope out there, there is a future out there,
there is a Palestinian state waiting for them, if only they will move
away from violence.
And then the third element, which is just as important as the other
two, is the humanitarian, reconstruction, economic leg. We will have a
major challenge in front of us to rebuild the Palestinian economy, to
help the Israeli economy get going again. It has suffered as well
during this time of crisis. And I am pleased that so many of my
colleagues within the international community have spoken up about
their willingness to help, and Jim Wolfensohn of the World Bank has
been especially forthcoming in the role that the World Bank might
MR. SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you two quick questions. Number one, do you
envision a time when you US troops would in some way be stationed
there between these two sides as peacekeepers of some sort? And the
second question, do you expect to be going back to the Middle East
anytime soon?
SECRETARY POWELL: On the first question, no, I don't see US combat
troops being sent there in some sort of inter-positional role. We are
looking -- and we've had this position for a year -- at the use of
some small number of US monitors or observers, and these would more
likely be civilians than military, who would help the parties move
forward with security coordination and observing what's going on
between the two sides, resolving problems that might come up, assuming
they can get an agreement in place such as the Tenet work plan that
will allow the two sides to cooperate. A third party, United States
monitors, would be helpful in implementing that work plan.
I, of course, expect to be going back to the region at some point in
the future, but I don't have a specific announcement today.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for joining us.
(end transcript)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site:

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