22 September 2004
Road Map Only Way Forward to Mideast Peace, Powell Says, September 22, 2004
(Secretary of state affirms Quartet backs President Bush's plan)
The United States remains committed to the Road Map for Peace in the Middle East.
"It is the only way forward," U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said September 22 before a meeting of representatives of the United Nations, the European Union and Russia.
President Bush "remains totally committed to the vision he laid out to the world on June 24, 2002, and we will continue to pursue that vision as we meet with the Quartet," Powell said.
The Quartet refers to the United States, the United Nations, the European Union, and Russia when dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
After a meeting that lasted more than one hour, the Quartet released a statement that said, "the situation on the ground for both Palestinians and Israelis remains extremely difficult and no significant progress has been achieved on the road map."
The participants in the Quartet discussions were U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, European Union representatives Javier Solana and Chris Patten.
The Quartet noted "with deep concern" that genuine action is still needed to empower the Palestinian Authority's prime minister and cabinet so they can fulfill their obligations including dismantling terrorist infrastructure, prepare for control over Gaza, reform security forces and re-establish the rule of law.
In a two-page statement that reflected the remarks President Bush made a day earlier in the General Assembly Hall, the Quartet urged Israel to dismantle settlement outposts erected since March 2001, impose a settlement freeze, and take all possible steps now to ease the humanitarian and economic plight of the Palestinians. It reaffirmed its concerns about Israel's security barrier and urged Israel "to take action ... with respect to the route."
The Quartet said that Israel's withdrawal from Gaza "should be full and complete and be undertaken in a manner consistent with the road map."
Powell also said that there is an important role for moderate Arab states to play in the peace process, one reason President Bush reached out to Jordan and Egypt to meet at Aqaba.
"We believe they are the nations with the greatest equity in seeing a solution to the problem between Israel and Palestine, in addition to the Israelis and Palestinians themselves," the secretary said.
"I hope that the Arab nations will be playing a role in encouraging the Palestinian Authority to empower a prime minister who can act for the Palestinian people and to wrest power and authority away from Mr. Arafat so that somebody who can use that power and authority can be set up to do that," he said.
"The United States has said repeatedly we believe that the Palestinian Authority has to empower its prime minister so that Prime Minister Abu Ala will be seen as somebody who has authority to act in the name of the Palestinian people and that he can work with us, work with the Israelis, work with the Egyptians and others to get ready to assume political control over Gaza after the disengagement takes place, and also to put in place a security force that has been trimmed down in size, that is rationalized, and that is fully equipped to provide security in Gaza," Powell said.
"That is an essential step," the secretary said.
"Chairman Arafat, in our judgment, is not able to act in this manner," Powell said. "Therefore, we continue to encourage him to give authority to a prime minister in a manner intended by the summit meetings we had last summer in Sharm el-Sheikh and Aqaba."
In his address to the General Assembly September 21, President Bush highlighted the mutual obligations that both the Palestinians and Israelis have to make to get the peace process back on track.
"Good will and hard effort" can revive the road map for peace even after "the setbacks and frustrations of recent months," the president said.
"Peace will not be achieved by Palestinian rulers who intimidate opposition, tolerate corruption, and maintain ties to terrorist groups," he said. "The longsuffering Palestinian people deserve better."
Israel, the president continued, "should impose a settlement freeze, dismantle unauthorized outposts, end the daily humiliation of the Palestinian people, and avoid any actions that prejudice final negotiations."
"Arab states should end incitement in their own media, cut off public and private funding for terrorism, and establish normal relations with Israel," Bush said.
Following is the text of the Quartet press release:
Quartet Press Release
New York, 22 September 2004
The Quartet met in New York today and strongly reaffirmed its 4 May Statement. The situation on the ground for both Palestinians and Israelis remains extremely difficult and no significant progress has been achieved on the Roadmap.
The Quartet notes with deep concern that genuine action is still needed so that an empowered Prime Minister and cabinet can fulfill the Palestinian Authority's obligations under the Roadmap, including an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism, and the dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. The Quartet noted in this regard the need for the Palestinian Authority to prepare for assumption of control over Gaza, in particular by reforming its security forces and re-establishing the rule of law.
The Quartet underscores its continued readiness to engage with an accountable and reformed Palestinian leadership, and strongly urges the Palestinian Authority to take steps now that contribute to constructive meetings to be held this fall of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee and Task Force on Palestinian Reform. The Quartet welcomes steps toward well-prepared, free and fair, Palestinian municipal elections, and urges Israel and the Palestinian Authority to cooperate toward this goal. The Quartet urges the Government of Israel to implement its obligations under the Roadmap, including dismantling of settlement outposts erected since March 2001, and to impose a settlement freeze, as called for by President Bush and in the Roadmap. The lack of action in this regard is a cause for concern. They also call on the Government of Israel to take all possible steps now, consistent with Israel's legitimate security needs, to ease the humanitarian and economic plight of the Palestinian people. The Quartet reaffirms the concerns expressed in its Statement of May 4 with respect to the actual routing of the Israeli separation barrier and takes note of the ICJ advisory opinion on this subject. The Quartet urges positive action by the Government of Israel with respect to the route of the barrier and reiterates its view that no party should undertake unilateral actions that could prejudge issues that can only be resolved through negotiations and agreement between the parties.
The Quartet reaffirms its encouragement for Prime Minister Sharon's intention to withdraw from all Gaza settlements and parts of the West Bank and reiterates that withdrawal from Gaza should be full and complete and be undertaken in a manner consistent with the Roadmap, as a step toward an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 through direct negotiations between the sides leading to the goal of two states, Israel and a sovereign, independent, viable, democratic and territorially contiguous Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. The Quartet urges both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to coordinate closely preparation and implementation of the withdrawal initiative.
The Quartet expresses its deep appreciation and support for Egypt's efforts to help reform and rebuild Palestinian security services, to reach a comprehensive and lasting end to all violence, and to advance the goal of security, stability and prosperity in Gaza as withdrawal is implemented. The Quartet calls upon all concerned parties, including Israel, the Palestinian Authority, the donor community and the World Bank, to engage constructively on economic aspects of Gaza and West Bank withdrawal. In this respect, the Quartet members reiterate their support for the World Bank Trust Fund and call on all donors to contribute to it.
The Quartet reaffirms its commitment to a just, comprehensive, and lasting settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict based upon Resolution 242 and 338, and will remain engaged with all parties to help ensure that progress toward this goal is achieved.