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Powell would work for Mideast peace
Powell: Support for Israel solid, but Arab needs are also important
By Sharon Samber
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
January 19, 2001
WASHINGTON, Characterizing the situation in the Middle
East as ``uppermost in our
mind," Colin Powell told the U.S. Senate committee considering his
for secretary of state that he would
work for a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Appearing before the Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, Powell,
retired U.S. general, praised
President Clinton's work toward a peace agreement and indicated that
President-elect George W. Bush would
continue the effort.
``We will do our part to keep the peace process moving forward," he
The new administration's first step will be to ask Palestinian
President Yasser Arafat to rein in
the violence that has raged in the region since late September.
After that, the administration will prepare its diplomatic strategy
while waiting for the results of Israel's
Feb. 6 election, Powell said.
Bush's foreign policy team is expected to take a very different
to the peace process than the
current administration, which took a strongly proactive role in nudging
Israel and the Palestinians toward an
Powell, who served as national security adviser in the Reagan
administration and then as chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War in 1991, noted that Israel and the
Palestinians themselves need to take the
initiative on the peace front, and not rely on the United States to push an
``We seek a lasting peace, as have all previous administrations, based
on unshakable support for the
security of Israel, the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people,
friendships in the Arab world and a
hard-headed recognition that the parties themselves must make the peace,"
Bush has said he supports the peace process but does not want the
States to interfere in domestic
Israeli policy. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has said he is certain
will play an important role for peace.
Powell indicated he would look beyond the Israeli-Palestinian peace
process to possible future agreements
between Israel and other countries.
``We are ready to work with all the parties in the region to achieve a
comprehensive solution. Peace for
Israel means peace with all of her neighbors, Syria included, where we need
to build on the opportunity created by
Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon," he told the committee.
Powell's views on Israel are largely unknown, but Israeli columnists
already are lamenting his approach to
the region and the expectation that the Bush administration will make the
Middle East less of a foreign policy
When he accepted the nomination, Powell said the Bush administration
would ``remain very much
engaged" in the Middle East.
The issue would continue to be ``a major priority" for the State
Department, he said, yet he hinted at a new
role for the U.S. administration.
The policy ``will be based on the principle that we must always ensure
that Israel lives in freedom, and in
security and peace," Powell said last month.
``But at the same time, we have to do everything we can to deal with
aspirations of the Palestinians and
other nations in the region."
During Wednesday's hearing, Powell also noted the ``tragic case'' of
Iraq, saying Iraq must prove to the
United States that it does not have weapons of mass destruction.
Powell pledged to reinvigorate sanctions against Iraq, claiming that
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's
weapons development program, not sanctions, is responsible for his people's
Powell also promised to look at issues of religious freedom worldwide
and said he would consider
maintaining the State Department's office on Holocaust assets.
© JTA Inc., 2000. May not be reproduced without written permission.