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13 November 2002

Boucher Says Mideast Peace Roadmap Not "Frozen"

(Expresses U.S. concern over violence of recent days) (920)
State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said that although the
"roadmap" to peace adopted by the United Nations, European Union,
Russia and the United States needs to take Israeli and Palestinian
election timetables into account, it is not "frozen."
Boucher made his comments at the November 13 State Department briefing
in reaction to press queries about how upcoming Israeli and
Palestinian elections in January were affecting the process.
The spokesman described the road map as a document that is both
"living and evolving," and "performance-based."
"To the extent we can proceed on those steps, to the extent we can
proceed on the path outlined by the president and outlined by the road
map, we will. But as I said, we obviously will take into account the
domestic timetables," he said.
He pointed out that the task force meeting on Palestinian reform and
humanitarian assistance would take place in Amman, Jordan November 14
as scheduled.
Boucher expressed U.S. concern over the level of violence between
Israelis and Palestinians, after the November 10 attack on an Israeli
kibbutz that left five dead, and Israeli military actions such as a
November 13 raid on Nablus.
Israel, he said, "needs to think about its actions, keep in mind the
consequences and take effective steps to prevent civilian casualties
in the operations." Palestinians, he said should "call for an
immediate end to terror and to take real action to dismantle the
infrastructure that supports terror and violence."
Boucher said that Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David
Satterfield met with senior Palestinian leaders including Saeb Erekat
November 13, and conveyed U.S. concerns to both sides.
Following is an excerpt from the November 13 State Department briefing
containing Boucher's comments on the Middle East:
(begin excerpt)
QUESTION: On the Middle East. Any comment on the storming of the
Palestinian homes by Israelis, Israeli forces?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I have any particular comment on that
action. We have been concerned in recent days by the level of
violence. We've been concerned -- very concerned -- by the attack on
the kibbutz, for example, which we most clearly condemn.
We have always said, I think, that Israel does have a right to defend
itself, has a right to take actions against terrorism, but at the same
time needs to think about its actions, keep in mind the consequences
and take effective steps to prevent civilian casualties in the
operations.
So we have urged the Palestinians very strongly and continue to press
them, to call for an immediate end to terror, and to take real action
to dismantle the infrastructure that supports terrorism and violence.
And David Satterfield, our Ambassador, has made these points with
senior Palestinian leaders, including with Saeb Erekat in meetings in
Jericho today. So he's out there, has made these points to both sides
about the continuing violence in the region.
QUESTION: On a related issue, there's many reports today that the
United States has agreed to freeze the roadmap process until the
Israeli elections. Is that correct?
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't exactly call it frozen. I guess what I would
say is that domestic developments in both Israel and the Palestinian
areas have always influenced the timetable of our efforts, but the
roadmap process is one that we want to continue. We have heard
comments now from the parties during the various visits that
Ambassador Burns had out there. The roadmap -- you have to think of it
as a living and evolving document. And we'll certainly consider the
comments and take these into account as the document evolves.
But more importantly, I would have to say, it's a performance-based
document. It's a statement that, as the two sides start to take steps,
whenever that happens, that the other side should respond. So we
continue to work on some of the issues involved in the roadmap and in
achieving the President's vision, like Palestinian reform. We have the
Task Force's meetings. We continue to work on issues of revenue and
other steps, reciprocal obligations.
So, to the extent we can proceed on those steps, to the extent we can
proceed on the path outlined by the President and outlined by the
roadmap, we will. But, as I said, we obviously will take into account
the domestic timetables.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that? You say it's not frozen. Can
you think of another description for it, then?
MR. BOUCHER:  It continues to evolve.  
QUESTION: Okay. Can I put it this way, then? Do you expect -- well,
start with this. Have the Israelis told you that they will not give
their response to the latest version of the roadmap before the
elections?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we have already heard some comments from the
Israelis. I don't know if they will have something further to say
before the elections or not.
QUESTION: Are there any plans for the Quartet to hold the proposed
meeting in early December to endorse a final version of it?
MR. BOUCHER: There is no -- I have nothing at this point, any
particular plans for a Quartet meeting. We'll just have to see. The
last Quartet meeting was in October when Bill Burns met with the
Quartet in Paris. But I don't have anything new on the agenda right
now.
QUESTION: Well, the Task Force meeting in Amman is going ahead, isn't
it?
MR. BOUCHER: The Task Force meeting in Amman is going ahead, and
they're taking up a lot of these issues of reform and humanitarian
assistance and other matters that are part of the roadmap that are
part of the President's vision.
(end excerpt)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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