From: NY Transfer News
Subject: Bush-Powell Rift on Israel Goes Public
Date: Fri, 14 Jun 2002 04:44:50 -0400
Organization: NY Transfer News
NNTP-Posting-Date: 14 Jun 2002 08:43:35 GMT
User-Agent: Pan/0.11.3 (Unix)
Bush-Powell Rift on Israel Goes Public
Via NY Transfer News * All the News That Doesn't Fit
The Guardian - June 13, 2002
Bush and Powell in public split over Israel
Ewen MacAskill and Simon Tisdall
US moves to launch a Middle East peace initiative were in chaos last
night after a split between the president, George Bush, and the
secretary of state, Colin Powell, burst into the open.
The White House press secretary, Ari Fleischer, delivered a public
rebuke to Mr Powell for floating proposals that included creation of
a "temporary" Palestinian state.
He accused Mr Powell of parroting the ideas of foreign government
leaders rather than reaching his own conclusions.
Against a background of continuing violence in Israel and the
occupied territories, Mr Bush is to make a speech within days that is
meant to revive the peace process. But Mr Bush and Mr Powell are
divided over the content.
Mr Bush is leaning heavily towards the Israeli prime minister, Ariel
Sharon, who was returning to Israel yesterday after two days of talks
in Washington. Mr Powell appears to be more sympathetic towards the
Mr Sharon broke his flight home to stop in London to brief Tony Blair
on the US visit. In an hour-long discussion at Downing Street, Mr
Blair pressed him to re-engage in the political process rather than
rely solely on military solutions, according to a Downing Street
An Israeli government spokesman said Mr Sharon had been explicit
about the "terror" that Israel faced and had told Mr Blair that "any
kind of political talks will have to follow the end of terror".
Britain is encouraging Israel to drop its pre-conditions to entering
the political process: an end to Palestinian attacks on Israelis and
reform of the Palestinian Authority.
But there is no prospect of political negotiations without impetus
being provided by Washington, which was yesterday in a state of
Mr Powell, in an interview with a London-based Arab paper, al-Hayat,
floated a series of ideas, including the creation of the "temporary"
Palestinian state, a halfway house on the way to full statehood.
Mr Powell echoed Arab demands for "the end of the occupation" of the
West Bank and Gaza by Israel, for "the creation of a state called
Palestine" and for "the end of settlement activity".
He said that Mr Bush will announce "in the very near future" how he
intends to secure a Palestinian state. Next Monday has been pencilled
in for Mr Bush's speech but the timing could slip given the splits
within the administration.
He said that Mr Bush had not ruled out setting a timetable for the
creation of a Palestinian state. The Palestinians want the timetable
but Mr Sharon is opposed.
Mr Powell also stressed the importance of holding an international
conference, planned for this summer, to discuss the options for peace
and, in contrast with Mr Bush and Mr Sharon, to continue to work with
the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat.
"It's up to the Palestinian people to determine who their leader is,
to determine who should head their government," Mr Powell said.
Hours after the interview was published, Mr Fleischer said Mr
Powell's proposals would be treated as advice that Mr Bush may or may
Mr Fleischer said: "Welcome to the Middle East. This is a situation
where people get a variety of information, a variety of advice and if
the president has anything further to indicate, he will."
Mr Fleischer said the secretary of state was acting on advice he had
heard from foreign leaders rather than stating his own conclusions.
"The secretary, from time to time, will reflect on the advice that he
gets and do so publicly, which is his prerogative."
Envoys from the Middle East "quartet" working on peace proposals are
to meet in Washington tomorrow. The quartet is made up of the US, the
UN, the EU, and Russia. The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud
al-Faisal, alarmed at the extent to which Mr Sharon's voice rather
than the Arab one is being listened to in the US administration, is
to hold talks in Washington today.
Mr Sharon appears to be satisfied with assurances he received from Mr
Bush about plans for the Middle East.
Mr Bush and Mr Sharon are in agreement on marginalising Mr Arafat and
trying to find another Palestinian leader.
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