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Transcript of Powell's speech in Jerusalem

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell  

(CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has ended his 10-day mission to the Mideast without securing a cease-fire in the troubled region.

Powell met Wednesday with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, and after the meeting, the U.S. diplomat gave a speech in Jerusalem before departing from Israel. The following is a transcript of Powell's remarks:

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Let me begin by extending my congratulations to the state of Israel on the 54th anniversary of its independence. The United States has stood by Israel since its creation and will continue to do so with an unshakable commitment to Israel's security and well-being.

On April 4, President Bush offered a powerful statement of America's determination to fight terrorism and the violence in the Middle East and move toward peace. The president's vision as first outlined in his speech to the United Nations last November points toward two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.

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The president also posed challenges to the parties themselves. For the Palestinians, to reject violence and terrorism as a means of settling this conflict; for the Israelis, to bring the current military operation to an end; for both sides to resume security cooperation and to find a way back to negotiations; for our Arab and international partners to work with us against terrorism and help the parties find a path toward a more hopeful future.

The president asked me to travel to a region in turmoil. Recent events have taken an enormous toll, human lives lost, families shattered, economic activity frozen and mounting humanitarian distress. Israelis and Palestinians alike deserve lives free from the fear of violence with hope for a stable future and a chance for economic prosperity.

An additional cause of tension is the ongoing threat posed by attacks by Hezbollah and others across the United Nations-recognized Blue Line, and it was for that reason I traveled to Beirut and Damascus to underscore the president's strong message to all parties to exercise restraint.

In my consultations over the past 10 days with our international partners, our Arab friends, Israelis and Palestinians, I have listened carefully, and I have probed hard.

I have found broad support for a comprehensive strategy as a way forward. The Madrid "Quartet" meeting we had last week published a strong declaration endorsing this comprehensive approach. In that declaration, the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and the Russian Federation were united in this endorsement. And there are three critical elements in this comprehensive strategy.

First, security and freedom from terror and violence for Israelis and Palestinians; next, serious and accelerated negotiations to revive hope and lead to a political settlement; and third, economic humanitarian assistance to address the increasingly desperate conditions faced by the Palestinian people. Let me address each of these elements.

Confronting and ending terrorism are indispensable steps on the road to peace. In my meetings with Chairman Arafat, I made it clear that he and the Palestinian Authority can no longer equivocate. They must decide, as the rest of the world has decided, that terrorism must end. Chairman Arafat must take that message to his people. He must follow through with instructions to his security forces. They must act to arrest and prosecute terrorists, disrupt terrorist financing, dismantle terrorist infrastructure and stop incitement.

In the coming days, we will be resuming our security contacts with the Palestinian Authority to assess their capabilities to develop specific performance measures for Palestinian security services and to restore effective security cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians. Prime Minister [Ariel] Sharon has stated his intention to complete Israel's withdrawal from the areas it recently occupied. He has provided me with a timeline through this weekend, and as you all know, reservists are now returning home.

I stressed to the prime minister the urgency of completing withdrawal and have been assured of real results in the next few days. I recognize the particular circumstances at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the presidential compound in Ramallah, as well as the importance of their urgent, nonviolent resolution. Our goal remains the full implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1402.

Only with the end of the incursion, and with the engagement in security talks, can a cease-fire be achieved in reality as well as rhetoric. And so I look forward to the completion of the withdrawal as soon as possible as the prime minister has said, so that we can move forward with the strategic framework that I have described.

Improvement in the security situation must be linked to the second point, the determined pursuit of a political solution. There can be no peace without security, but there can also be no security without peace. Only a negotiated settlement can resolve the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. We must find a way to bring together a traditional element, such as United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 with new initiatives, such as my Louisville speech last November, and U.N. Resolution 1397.

And one of the most promising of these new initiatives was launched by Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, and recently endorsed at the Arab League summit. A number of the leaders with whom I have spoken have expressed interest in convening a conference on the Middle East in the near future, a conference with international backing.

As they have suggested, its purpose would be to restore hope, reaffirm the urgency of a comprehensive settlement and resume direct negotiations in order to achieve that comprehensive settlement. I will be discussing this idea with President Bush and leaders in the international community upon my return to Washington.

Finally, the third element. The international community must address the dire humanitarian problems as well as the long-term economic needs of the Palestinian people. During my visit to Jerusalem, I was pleased to announce that the United States would contribute an additional $30 million in support of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and their programs in providing health, education, relief and social services to Palestinian refugees. This is beyond the $80 million we already provide annually.

The international humanitarian and aid agencies must have the freedom and access that they need to do their jobs. Also, the international donors will meet in Norway later this month to increase assistance to the Palestinian people at this time of exceptional need. So this is the comprehensive approach I believe we must pursue.

I am returning to Washington today to report to the president. Assistant Secretary of State Bill Burns will remain in the region to follow up on my visit. As circumstances warrant, the president is prepared to send Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet in the near future to work with the parties to resume security cooperation between the parties. Mr. Tenet has experience in this from last year and experience in these kinds of organizations and activities that I think will once again benefit both parties.

Gen. [Anthony] Zinni will also be returning to continue his work to implement the Tenet plan and move on into the Mitchell report. I plan to return to the region to move ahead on all aspects of our comprehensive approach.

As I depart, I also leave behind fundamental questions for the people and leaders of the region and for the international community as well, questions to ponder.

For the people and leaders of Israel, the question is whether the time has come for the strong, vibrant state of Israel to look beyond the destructive impact of settlements and occupation, both of which must end consistent with the clear positions taken by President Bush in his April 4 speech. Israelis should look ahead to the promise held out by the region and the world of a comprehensive, lasting peace.

For the people and leaders of the Palestinian Authority, the question is whether violence and terrorism can be renounced forever and whether your sights can be set squarely on peace through negotiations. Terrorists and purveyors of violence must not hold the Palestinian dream of independence hostage and prevent the emergence of a Palestinian state.

For the Arab peoples and their leaders, the question is whether the promise and vision of Crown Prince Abdullah's initiative can be transformed into a living reality. It is important that ties between Israelis and Arabs, artificial barriers between states fall away and distorted and racist images disappear from the media and from public discourse.

For the people and leaders of the international community, the question is how we can help both sides solve the deep problems they face. The efforts being made by the Madrid "Quartet" deserve to be emulated and expanded. And all of us must exert greater efforts against terror as we pursue peace.

In the spirit of President Bush's April 4 statement, I call on all states to condemn terrorism unequivocally, to end all funding and support for terrorist groups and to combat incitement as called for U.N. Resolution 1373. These are the challenges that we all face.

President Bush has directed his administration to do what is necessary to stop the violence, encourage efforts toward peace and restore the economic foundations of the region. Our fervent hope is that Israelis, Palestinians, our Arab friends and the international community will also rise to the challenge.




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