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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2003 > June

Joint Press Briefing at the World Economic Forum With United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, European Union High Representative Javier Solana, and Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Dead Sea, Jordan
June 22, 2003

SECRETARY GENERAL ANNAN: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. The Quartet principals discussed today the situation in the Middle East following the recent release of the roadmap and the beginning of its implementation. We reviewed steps that should be taken by both sides in order to move ahead as well as the support we in the international community need to give to the renewed peace process.

I would like on behalf of the Quartet to welcome the (inaudible) engagement of President Bush, which was demonstrated in Sharm el-Sheikh and the Aqaba summits. His continued involvement is going to be vital to the progress in the months ahead.

We commend Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Sharon for their statements of commitment of peace. We pledge our support to the parties to carry out those commitments. It is essential that a way be found to break the cycle of violence, counter-violence and revenge.

I believe that there is agreement that moving along the roadmap’s path will require determination and courageous decisions on both sides. We call on the Palestinian Authority to make all possible efforts to halt immediately the activities of individuals and groups planning and conducting terror attacks on Israelis.

However, it is obvious that the Palestinians cannot combat terrorism and end violence without Israel’s active cooperation. Israeli military actions that result in the killing of Palestinian civilians do not enhance security and undermine trust and prospects for cooperation. Israel must make every possible effort to support the Palestinian government and to take immediate actions to ease the plight of the Palestinian people.

Finally, the Quartet reaffirmed its commitment to a just, lasting and comprehensive peace based on Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and 1397, and look forward to continuing to work together in close consultation with the parties.

Now I would want to say a few words in my capacity as Secretary General of the United Nations. I would wish to say that in keeping with the approach laid out in the roadmap, the principle of parallelism should be maintained. We must address security, humanitarian and political issues at the same time. I call on the Israelis not to use disproportionate force in civilian areas, carry out house demolitions, or engage in extra judicial (inaudible). Unless the Palestinians feel a positive change in their daily lives, feel a change in their daily lives including movement restrictions, freezing settlement activities and reestablishing economic activity, I fear that there will not be sufficient public support to sustain peace.

Simultaneously, the Palestinian Authority must not spare any effort to bring to an end all acts of terror against Israelis anywhere. Terror is not only morally wrong, it is also counterproductive to our common goal: the full end to the occupation that started in 1967, the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the universal recognition of the State of Israel and the State of Palestine, living together as best of neighbors. Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, what is your reaction to Israel’s killing of a senior Hamas leader last night, how much of a setback do you regard it to the peace process, and did you regard this man as a “ticking bomb?” Did you regard the man killed as a “ticking bomb?”

SECRETARY POWELL: I regret that once again we had an incident that could be an impediment to progress. As I have said previously and in my conversations with the Israeli side, we can understand the situation of, quote, a ticking bomb, when there is immediate threat that has to be dealt with, but anything that sort of out of that immediate definition has to be looked at in light of the consequences it will have to our ability to move forward. I don’t know all the details on this incident, I’ve only seen press reports concerning it, but it is a matter of concern.

Having said that, it’s still important for us to remain committed to moving forward and to remind the parties of the obligations that they entered into in Aqaba. We can’t allow ourselves to be stopped or allow this process to come to an end because of these incidents. We have to keep moving forward.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Mr. Secretary General, you have appealed umpteen times to the Israelis and called on them to stop this assassination, what you call, you have legal word for it, but it's downright, basically against international law to go with assassination. Are you embarrassed that you are the Secretary General of the United Nations, all your appeals have gone unheard. And Mr. Secretary, the same thing: you say that you want, you say to the Israelis stop it and they ignore you. Is this embarrassing for you, and is it true that some say that the roadmap was written in a way so that it is unimplementable?

SECRETARY GENERAL ANNAN: Let me say that I think it is important that voices be heard when things are going on that we think should be corrected. The fact that one raises one's voice to try and change direction, to try and appeal to people to do the right thing, the fact that it doesn't happen today does not mean that it's irrelevant and one should not speak out. I think, even the fact of individuals or third parties getting involved and saying, “Stop it, it's enough, the people don't deserve this, your people have had enough,” is an important message. And I think we should keep raising our voices even if it doesn't stop the fighting today or tomorrow.

SECRETARY POWELL: I agree with the Secretary. It’s not a matter of embarrassment. It’s a matter of not allowing this kind of incident to stop us. I regret it happened. I regret that we continue to find ourselves trapped in this action and counteraction, provocation and reaction to provocation. What we’re trying to do with the roadmap is to get both parties to start meeting their obligations and commitments under the roadmap and move forward.

We’ve had a start on that. We have had a start on the side of Israel by them taking down some of the outposts, by releasing prisoners. On the Palestinian side, we’ve seen a new seriousness with respect to doing something about terror and violence, the Prime Minister speaking out clearly about the need to end the armed intifada.

We knew it wouldn’t be easy, we knew it would not simply happen the day after Aqaba. We’re two and a half weeks in, we’re committed to moving forward, both sides are committed to moving forward because what is the alternative to moving forward? Going back to where they were? I don’t think that’s an alternative. I don’t think that’s an alternative that the people of the region, be they Palestinian or Israelis, can accept and will accept, and I hope that political leaders in both sides will understand the need to take actions as we move forward that will allow us to continue to move forward.

FOREIGN MINISTER PAPANDREOU: Could I just add the European voice, Javier and I here? On this point, on this question that we are the Quartet, standing here, saying that the international community is united in working towards peace. We are saying that we are not going to allow this process to be undermined and that those who do want to undermine it are trying to undermine the political will of the international community. We are acting together, there is a commitment to the roadmap, a commitment to the vision of two states, a viable Palestinian state and a safe Israel, and there is a need for action now, for the implementation.

I would also say that the European Union very much has welcomed the acceptance from both sides of the roadmap and very much has welcomed President Bush’s commitment, statements and actions on this issue.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you said you regret the killing of the Hamas leader Kwasmeh, but if he’s a terrorist, wouldn’t it help to stop terror, if Israel does the work, even to the Authority, the Palestinian Authority, by killing Hamas leaders, and Mr. Papandreou I would like to understand if the EU sees the difference between the military of the Hamas, the military people or the political leaders of the Hamas or they are all a part of the Hamas, and is of course against the roadmap.

SECRETARY POWELL: I regret the continued loss of life. I regret the fact that as we are moving into this new period, where a roadmap has been put in place that shows us how we can get forward, how we can get to the political objective that we all desire, we still see this kind of activity in both sides, which is essentially the cycle that has been going on for a long period of time, has led nowhere, has not led to peace, it has not led to security, it has not led to the prospect of two states living side by side in peace.

I regret that these incidents continue to happen, I can’t get into the details of whether this was a ticking bomb incident or somebody who was responsible for ticking bombs. I don’t know the details of the incident. My regret is the fact that these incidents continue to occur, and we continue to see this kind of loss of life, and we continue to see that with this unending cycle, we’re not getting closer to the objective that we all have in mind and the objective that was discussed and committed to at Aqaba and Sharm el-Sheikh. It’s the incident I regret. I would much rather on a Sunday morning, I wake up to find that we are moving forward and it was not necessary to have this kind of activity on either side. That is my regret, and we have to punch through this, we have to punch through this.

FOREIGN MINISTER PAPANDREOU: First of all, we have very much been supporting Prime Minister Abu Mazen’s efforts in getting a ceasefire as a first step to a total disarmament demilitarization of these groups, and we have in our statement yesterday from the Thessalonica summit demanded that Hamas completely comply with this effort by Abu Mazen and have a total ceasefire, and we have also said that our Ministerial Council is urgently examining the whole issue of the funding of Hamas.

QUESTION: There has been a lot of focus in recent weeks on dealing with the security issue in Gaza in particular, the possibility of turning over all of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority. How much of a gamble is that at this point, if the Palestinian Authority is not able to ensure security? Alternatively, should there be a focus on the economic problems in the Gaza, should there be funding provided to the Palestinian Authority so that they can start building hospitals, providing college tuition and filling the role that Hamas now plays in Gaza as a first step rather than putting so much of an emphasis to have all the cards on the table at this point to have them prove themselves on security, and I would be interested if all interested party addressed it.

SECRETARY POWELL: We are anxious to see the security arrangements reach where the
Palestinian Authority can take control of Gaza, and the Israelis can remove their forces. That will immediately open up Gaza for the kind of economic activity and humanitarian assistance that you described, and it will also give the people of Gaza, I think, hope that their situation is improving.

It doesn’t mean that will never therefore after that be an attack or anything that happens in Gaza or coming out of Gaza against Israel, nobody can make that guarantee and I think people understand that there will always be a level of risk as long as there are people who are committed to terrorism and committed to not seeing two states living side by side in peace and that exists whether Gaza’s under the control of the Palestinians or the Israelis. But if Palestinians are prepared to and have the capacity to take over security in Gaza, they have tools that they can bring to it. It’s their land and they know that they’re trying to end terror and violence in their land, working with the Israelis, sharing of intelligence, sharing of information, but there will still always be the risk.

We should put the burden where it belongs on terrorist organizations, organizations such as Hamas. We can put blame elsewhere, we can talk about what the Israelis ought to be doing, what the Palestinian Authority ought to be doing, but it begins with putting the blame first and foremost on organizations such as Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and others, which continue to conduct terrorist attacks, requiring response from the Israeli side and keeping the day further away when the Palestinian people can find peace and security and we can help them to the kind of life that you are describing for them and so the burden goes to those organizations who conduct terrorist attacks.

In our meetings, we did discuss how we can help them and the United States is providing another $50 million to the effort that you’re familiar with and the Secretary General made an impassioned plea to all of us to do what we could in our own capacities, in our organizational capacities, to help these desperate people who are in need. I deal to my colleagues.

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE SOLANA: I think that what Secretary Powell has said is correct. The people in Gaza, they think, the Palestinians in Gaza think they have the capability to take the full responsibility for security but at the same time, you have the obligation and we have the obligation to the international community as you as Europeans are going to do it to have them to reconstruct their hospitals, schools, etc. But those both phase should not be compatible, you want to give some hope, they have to have hope that they can control the movement of their people, the security of their people, and at the same time to have development in school, hospital, etc. and the quality of life that unfortunately now is not the type of life that we hope they will have in the future. So, both phases have to be done and we’re ready to go and help in both directions.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, just an analogy, what do you say about the analogy between what happened in ‘93 this Gaza-Jericho first, and what’s happening today?

SECRETARY POWELL: I’m sorry I can’t hear….

QUESTION: I will repeat the question, and the question was what kind of an analogy would you make between what’s going on today in the Palestinian territories and what was going on ten years ago in 1993 with the Gaza-Jericho starting the Oslo process?

SECRETARY POWELL: I’m not dealing in analogies today, I’m dealing with the situation that exists today, and the situation that exists today is that we have a roadmap, we have plan to go forward, we have a Palestinian Authority that is willing to take over responsibility in Gaza and an Israeli Government that is prepared to transfer responsibility to Gaza once a few security details are worked out, and I hope that we will see that come to pass in the not too distant future.

FOREIGN MINISTER PAPANDREOU: I want to say that in this historic opportunity, we must take it and we here are determined to help.

FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: I agree with you.


Released on June 23, 2003

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