Home  > Israel-News Today
Powell Criticizes Israel on Fence - U.S. Weighs Response to ´Intrusion´ Into Palestinian Territory, He Says (WASHINGTON POST) By Glenn Kessler and Peter Slevin 10/04/03 Page A01) Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A41964-2003Oct3.html
The Headline Contains

* Choose from 1 of the 4 descriptions for the headline and or any paragraph.


Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said yesterday that Israel´s attempt to calm U.S. criticism by leaving large gaps in a fence project that extends into Palestinian lands was not satisfactory and that U.S. officials are having "intense discussions" about their response.
Paragraph-1 Contains
The Israeli cabinet this week approved new construction on the project, designed to keep Palestinians out of Israel, in several areas deep in the West Bank. "The gaps in and of themselves do not satisfy me," Powell said in an interview yesterday. "The question is what becomes of the gaps in due course."
Paragraph-2 Contains
Powell said he met with President Bush on Thursday for a long discussion about the Middle East, following a meeting of senior officials involved in setting Israeli-Palestinian policy. "We have not yet come to a conclusion about what to do and what our action should be," Powell said, adding that officials "are examining the fence, where it´s going, how it´s going, the [Israeli] settlements and what our obligations are under the law with respect to these matters."
Paragraph-3 Contains
During the interview, held in Powell´s seventh-floor conference room at the State Department, he also said the Bush administration would press the Iraqi Governing Council to write a constitution quickly. He indicated that the United States is close to restarting a dialogue with Iran and disclosed a new initiative to expand trade in sensitive high-tech, space and nuclear goods with India.
Paragraph-4 Contains
Powell said the administration intends to push Iraqis to draft a constitution that would precede national elections and a return of the country to Iraqi control. He said the six-month period he cited last week is not a firm deadline, but he called it "an achievable goal."
Paragraph-5 Contains
Members of Iraq´s Governing Council, who have said the timetable is too tight, will be consulted, Powell said. But if the Iraqis advise U.S. authorities that it would take a year, the Americans would object.
Paragraph-6 Contains
"I think we would press back, because we don´t know that it will take one year, and frankly, we would like to see it finished long before one year," Powell said. "We need to get on with this."
Paragraph-7 Contains
He added: "We´re going to continue to press them to move as quickly as possible because the sooner we have that constitution, the sooner we can then take it to ratification, the sooner we can schedule elections."
Paragraph-8 Contains
Powell said the six-month idea came from discussions he had with L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. civilian reconstruction coordinator. "It´s not something we pulled out of thin air," he said.
Paragraph-9 Contains
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan opposes the timing and sequence of the U.S. political plans. He told council members yesterday that a more broadly representative Iraqi transitional government should be put in place soon, with a constitution to follow at an orderly pace.
Paragraph-10 Contains
Powell said Annan´s idea of creating an interim government is "not realistic" because Iraqis are not yet prepared to assume significant authority. He said he spoke with Annan and French U.N. ambassador Dominique de Villepin yesterday morning to better understand their views, which he described as "interesting" and "well-meaning."
Paragraph-11 Contains
The secretary of state said the administration will "reflect on all of this," but he made clear U.S. authorities do not envision a change in policy or in the makeup of the 24-member Governing Council.
Paragraph-12 Contains
Powell´s comments on the Israeli fence project are significant because the Israeli government recently sent a delegation to Washington to discuss the plan to include the gaps in the fence. Israeli officials have suggested that their idea had passed muster with the administration.
Paragraph-13 Contains
Israeli officials say the fence is designed to stop Palestinian suicide bombers from entering Israel. Palestinians say it is an unlawful expropriation of Palestinian territory. The project is a 60- yard-wide complex of ditches, 25-foot-high walls, electronic sensors, roads and steel barriers.
Paragraph-14 Contains
"We have made it clear that the fence . . . is a problem," Powell said, outlining the argument the administration has made to the Israelis.
Paragraph-15 Contains
"If you want to put a fence on something that is a recognized border, the green line [which separated Israel and the West Bank before 1967], then put a fence on your property line. But the more you intrude in Palestinian areas and the more it looks like it could be contiguous intrusion around large sections of Palestinian land that would prejudge subsequent negotiations as to what a Palestinian state may look like, that´s a problem."
Paragraph-16 Contains
Among the questions U.S. officials are examining is whether construction costs associated with the fence project can be deducted from $8 billion in loan guarantees for Israel. U.S. officials have indicated they plan to deduct from the loans what they estimate Israel spends on settlements in Palestinian territory, as allowed by law.
Paragraph-17 Contains
On Iran, Powell strongly suggested the administration is close to restarting sensitive talks with the Islamic republic, which shares a long border with Iraq. U.S. officials had held secret meetings in Geneva with the Iranians both before and after the war, but abruptly ended them after the May 12 bombing of residential compounds in Saudi Arabia. U.S. officials alleged that Iran harbored al Qaeda operatives responsible for the bombing.
Paragraph-18 Contains
Iranian officials have repeatedly suggested they would like to restart the talks, most recently last week, when Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi attended a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly.
Paragraph-19 Contains
"We have received a number of indications from Iran, and we are responding to those indications," Powell said, declining to provide details. He said there "are some outstanding issues that have to resolved," but "it´s encouraging that they are sending out these signals, and we are responding to these signals."
Paragraph-20 Contains
Powell added, "Their signals are not simply going into the ether. They are hitting a reflector and going back."
Paragraph-21 Contains
With Iran facing an Oct. 31 deadline set by an international atomic watchdog to tell whether its nuclear program is designed to manufacture weapons, Powell said, "What we are looking for is not a confrontation or a crisis with Iran."
Paragraph-22 Contains
But he said the administration needs "absolute assurance" that Iran´s program is not designed to be diverted for nuclear weapons manufacture.
Paragraph-23 Contains
Powell confirmed that the administration is close to completing an agreement with India, labeled "the glide path," that would allow an expansion of trade in high-tech areas, space launch equipment and the nuclear industry.
Paragraph-24 Contains
He said that for two years the Indians had pressed for an agreement in these areas, but "we also had to protect certain red lines that we had with respect to proliferation" because of fears the trade could be diverted for weapons.
Paragraph-25 Contains
Under the three-phase plan, India -- a nuclear weapons power -- would take a series of steps, such as strengthening domestic export control laws. The United States would respond with enhanced market opportunities.
Paragraph-26 Contains
"The glide path was a way of bringing to closure this debate," Powell said. He said it has "gotten a good reception in India, and at an appropriate time in the future it will be announced." (© 2003 The Washington Post Company 10/04/03)
Paragraph-27 Contains
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY


WASHINGTON POST Articles-Index-Top Publishers-Index-Top Return to Top