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EXCERPTS: ON ISRAEL PALESTINIAN DISPUTE Foreign Policy Address From Secretary Colin L. Powell at the University of Louisville, Kentucky (U.S. DEPTARTMENT OF STATE) 11/19/01 11:17 a.m. EST) Source: http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2001/index.cfm?docid=6219
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It is also a time of danger and a time of challenges requiring American leadership. And nowhere are the challenges greater than in the Middle East, a region where we have fought long for our most basic values and principles, a region where we have stood by our friends, Arab and Israeli, in war and in peace, for over half a century.
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Since Israel´s establishment over 50 years ago, the United States has had an enduring and ironclad commitment to Israel´s security. The United States-Israeli relationship is based on the broadest conception of American national interests, in which our two nations are bound forever together by common democratic values and traditions. This will never change.
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One of my proudest moments as a soldier and as an American came in 1991, when American troops led the international coalition of forces that liberated Kuwait from Saddam Hussein´s invaders. Later that year, though, I watched with equal pride as Arabs and Israelis gathered together in the aftermath of the Gulf War. They gathered together in Madrid to take advantage of the opportunity created by the successful war. They took the opportunity to launch an historic process of negotiations aimed at ending their conflicts once and for all. They, too, were supported by an American-led coalition, one focused this time on peace rather than on war.
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The Middle East is a region facing enormous problems. The hope created in Madrid has faded. Last month marked the tenth anniversary of the Madrid conference, a time to look forward as well as look back. We are looking forward now as we try to capture the spirit of Madrid and create a renewed sense of hope and common purpose for the peoples of the Middle East. America has a positive vision for the region, a vision that we want to share with our friends in Israel and in the Arab world.
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We have a vision of a region where Israelis and Arabs can live together in peace, security and dignity. We have a vision of a region where two states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side within secure and recognized borders. We have a vision of a region where all people have jobs that let them put bread on their tables, provide a roof over their heads and offer a decent education to their children. We have a vision of a region where all people worship God in a spirit of tolerance and understanding. And we have a vision of a region where respect for the sanctity of the individual, the rule of law and the politics of participation grow stronger day by day.
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Such a vision seems far away today. Throughout much of the Middle East, the economic challenges are daunting. Too little economic growth creates too few jobs for burgeoning populations. And too much red tape and government control stifle private enterprise and initiative.
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Throughout much of the region, political systems do not provide citizens an adequate say in how they are governed. They do not offer a way for people to peacefully work out competing needs and visions for their future.
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The solutions to these challenges will come about only through hard work, common sense, basic fairness and a readiness to compromise. They will not be created by teaching hate and division, nor will they be born amidst violence and war.
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To help America recognize this positive vision, we will stay engaged. America wants to recognize its positive vision and help all in the region to achieve this positive vision. America will continue to strongly support expansion of economic opportunity in the region, political openness and tolerance, will support efforts to find regional solutions to security challenges, and we will conduct serious diplomacy aimed at resolving regional conflict. The Middle East has always needed active American engagement for there to be progress, and we will provide it, just as we have for over half a century.
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The central diplomatic challenge we face in the Middle East is to obtain a just and lasting peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Until Israel and all of its neighbors are at peace, our vision of the Middle East at peace will only be a distant dream. President Bush and I are convinced that the Arab-Israeli conflict can be resolved, but that will only happen if all of us, especially Israelis and Palestinians, face up to some fundamental truths.
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To begin with, Palestinians must accept that, if there is to be real peace, Israelis must be able to live their lives free from terror as well as war. The Palestinian leadership must make a 100 percent effort to end violence and to end terror. There must be real results, not just words and declarations. Terrorists must be stopped before they act. The Palestinian leadership must arrest, prosecute and punish the perpetrators of terrorist acts. The Palestinians must live up to the agreements they have made to do so. They must be held to account when they do not.
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Whatever the sources of Palestinian frustration and anger under occupation, the Intifada is now mired in the quicksand of self- defeating violence and terror directed against Israel. Palestinians need to understand that however legitimate their claims, they cannot be heard, let alone be addressed, through violence. And as President Bush has made clear, no national aspiration, no remembered wrong can ever justify the deliberate murder of the innocent. Terror and violence must stop and stop now. (Applause.)
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Palestinians must realize that the violence has had a terrible impact on Israel. The lynching of Israeli soldiers in Ramallah, the assassination of the cabinet minister and the killing of Israeli children feed Israelis´ deepest doubts about whether Palestinians really want peace. The endless messages of incitement and hatred of Israelis and Jews that pour out of the media in so much of the Palestinian and Arab worlds only reinforce these fears. No one can claim a commitment to peace while feeding a culture of hatred that can only produce a culture of violence. The incitement must stop.
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Palestinians must accept that they can only achieve their goals through negotiation. That was the essence of the agreements made between Israelis and Palestinians in Madrid, and again in Oslo in 1993. There is no other way but direct negotiation in an atmosphere of stability and non-violence.
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At the same time, Palestinians must also be secure and in control of their individual lives and collective security. In the absence of peace, Israel´s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has been the defining reality of Palestinians´ lives there for over three decades, longer than most of the Palestinians living there have been alive.
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The overwhelming majority of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have grown up with checkpoints and raids and indignities. Too often they have seen their schools shuttered and their parents humiliated. Palestinians need security as well. Too many innocent Palestinians, including children, have been killed and wounded. This, too, must stop. (Applause.)
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The occupation hurts Palestinians, but it also affects Israelis. The sad truth is that it is the young people who serve on the front lines of conflict who are at risk. Embittered young Palestinians throw stones, and young Israeli soldiers on the other side learn only that Palestinians are to be feared, seen as enemies. One thing I´ve learned in my life is that treating individuals with respect and dignity was the surest path to understanding. Both sides need to treat the other with respect. Humiliation and lack of respect are just another path to confrontation.
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Israeli settlement activity has severely undermined Palestinian trust and hope. It preempts and prejudges the outcome of negotiations and, in doing so, cripples chances for real peace and security. The United States has long opposed settlement activity. Consistent with the report of the committee headed by Senator George Mitchell, settlement activity must stop.
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For the sake of Palestinians and Israelis alike, the occupation must end. And it can only end with negotiations. Israelis and Palestinians must create a relationship based on mutual tolerance and respect so negotiations can go forward.
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My friends, it should be clear from these realities that the way back through a political process will be neither quick nor easy. That´s the bad news. The good news is that a framework for a solution exists. It is based on the core principles of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, which are rooted in the concept of land for peace. Madrid also calls for a comprehensive Arab- Israeli peace, including agreements with Syria and Lebanon.
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Rejectionists say that there has been no progress over the years trying to achieve those objectives. They are wrong. Over the past decade, Arabs and Israelis have proven that negotiations can work and can achieve results. At Madrid in October of 1991, through the Oslo process beginning in 1993, and in the 1994 Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty. And, last year, there was hope as Israelis and Palestinians negotiated on permanent status issues. The questions proved excruciatingly difficult, but issues long avoided were finally addressed.
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After a year of violence and trauma, finding a way forward will not be easy. It will take time, it will take trust. But the tools to rebuild confidence and revive a political process are available and they are available now. They are found in the security work plan negotiated by CIA Director George Tenet, and the Mitchell Committee report, which both the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority have accepted, and which the entire international community has strongly endorsed.
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The steps they outline offer Israelis and Palestinians a roadmap to a cease-fire and an end to the violence. Such steps must include an end to closures in order to bring tangible improvement in the daily lives of Palestinians and the rapid restoration of economic hope into every Palestinian home. Implementation of the Mitchell report shows the way to restoring trust and confidence and moving rapidly to the resumption of negotiations.
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We will do all we can to help the process along. We will push, we will prod. We will present ideas. For example, there are a number of economic and political steps in existing agreements --they are there now -- which, if we implemented, could contribute to momentum toward peace. But notwithstanding everything we do, at the end of the day, it is the people in the region taking the risks and making the hard choices who must find the way ahead. The only lasting peace will be the peace the parties make themselves.
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Both sides will need to face up to some plain truths about where this process is heading as they turn to the challenges of negotiating permanent status issues. Palestinians must eliminate any doubt, once and for all, that they accept the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state. They must make clear that their objective is a Palestinian state alongside Israel, not in place of Israel, and which takes full account of Israel´s security needs.
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The Palestinian leadership must end violence, stop incitement and prepare their people for the hard compromises ahead. All in the Arab world must make unmistakably clear, through their own actions, their acceptance of Israel and their commitment to a negotiated settlement.
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Israel must be willing to end its occupation, consistent with the principles embodied in Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, and accept a viable Palestinian State in which Palestinians can determine their own future on their own land and live in dignity and security. They, too, will have to make hard compromises.
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Ultimately, both sides will have to address the very, very difficult permanent status issues. The future of Jerusalem is a challenge which the two parties can only resolve together through negotiations, taking into account the religious and political concerns that both will bring to the table. Any solution will also have to protect the religious interests of Jews, Christians and Muslims the world over.
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On Palestinian refugees, the two parties must strive for a just solution that is both fair and realistic. Again, if there is to be a lasting peace, both sides will have to embrace negotiations on these and the other tough issues before them. The goal can be nothing less than an end to their conflict and a resolution of outstanding claims.
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As we have for half a century, the United States is ready to play an active leadership role in helping the parties along the road to a more hopeful future. Toward that end, President Bush and I have asked Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Bill Burns to return to the region later this week for consultations.
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I am also pleased to announce this morning that Retired Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni has agreed to serve as a senior advisor to me, with the immediate mission of helping the parties achieve a durable cease-fire and to move along the lines of the Tenet security work plan and the Mitchell Committee Report. Tony Zinni is a good friend of mine. He is a distinguished soldier, a Marine, with a long experience in the Middle East, particularly on security issues. He will be an invaluable addition to our team.
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I heard from Prime Minister Sharon this morning that Israel is forming a senior-level committee to work with the Palestinians on the negotiation and implementation of a cease-fire and what follows from that. I also understand that Chairman Arafat remains ready to do likewise and to engage on these issues through a similar senior-level committee.
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I have asked General Zinni to go to the region and remain in the region to work with these two committees and to lend our strongest efforts to the establishment of a cease-fire. Get that cease-fire in place, and other things can start to happen. Without that cease-fire, we are still trapped in the quicksand of hatred. I expect these new committees, with General Zinni´s participation, to begin working in the very, very near future.
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To help this process, the United States remains ready to contribute actively to a third party monitoring and verification mechanism acceptable to both parties. With a successful cease-fire, and as we move forward on the Mitchell Report and Tenet work plan, we will work urgently with our international partners on an economic reconstruction effort to help rebuild the Palestinian economy. (Applause.)
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We cannot hope to turn the current situation around by acting alone, nor should we want to. As in Madrid, so too does our current quest for a better future for Israelis and Palestinians depend on the support of our friends. We look forward to continuing to work closely with Egypt and Jordan, with the European Union, the United Nations Secretary General, with Russia and our many other partners in this effort. They have been so helpful; they all stand behind the Mitchell Committee Report.
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My friends, the stakes in our effort are enormous. It would be a tragedy to divert the energies and talents of another generation of young people from peace and prosperity to war and survival. It would be a tragedy to sacrifice so many more potential presidents and prime ministers and peacemakers and poets to this cruel conflict. It is time -- no, it is past time -- to end this terrible toll on the future. It is time -- past time -- to bring the violence to an end and to seek a better day. (Applause.)
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Today is the 24th anniversary of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat´s historic visit of peace and reconciliation to Jerusalem. As we work to make our vision a reality, we should recall the vision and courage of President Sadat, and of the region´s other great peacemakers: Israel Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and Jordan´s King Hussein. They are no longer with us, but their legacy lives on and inspires us.
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President Bush and I are determined to pursue this quest, and with the peoples of the Middle East, to make the vision of the region at peace a reality. History, fate and success have combined to compel American leadership in the Middle East and around the globe. We welcome the challenge. We welcome the opportunity to use our power and influence to make the world a better place for all of God´s children.
Thank you very much.
(Applause.) (11:53 A.M. EST 11/19/01)
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