Powell Seen Warning Sharon In Comments on Palestinians

By Ori Nir

Published January 31, 2003, issue of January 31, 2003.
  • Print
  • Share Share

WASHINGTON — A day before Israelis went to the polls to reelect Prime Minister Sharon, Secretary of State Colin Powell indirectly yet strongly criticized the Israeli leader for his vision of what a future Palestinian state should look like.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Powell said Monday: “We also have to say to our Israeli friends that you have to do more to deal with the humanitarian concerns of the Palestinian people, and you have to understand that a Palestinian state, when it’s created, must be a real state, not a phony state that’s diced into a 1,000 different pieces.”

Drawing applause from world leaders, Powell added: “That’s what we’re going to be concentrating on in the months ahead with the road map that’s been created.”

Powell’s statement came after a recent series of public remarks in which Sharon was critical of the road map and dismissive of the so-called Madrid Quartet — the diplomatic working group made up of the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia — as a mechanism for implementing it. It also came after statements Sharon made rejecting a settlement freeze during the negotiating process or the dismantling of settlements after its conclusion.

Most press reports on Powell’s speech focused on his remarks on Iraq, which were at its core. His unusually pointed comments on the future Palestinian state went almost unnoticed.

A Bush administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Powell’s reference to a “real” Palestinian state was directed both at Sharon and at Washington’s European allies, who are proposing the creation of a Palestinian state by 2005. The message to Sharon, the official said, was that the administration is serious about establishing, at the end of an Israeli-Palestinian negotiating process, a viable Palestinian state whose geography is not predetermined by proliferating Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. To the Europeans, the message was that Washington is not scheming with Sharon on an alternative plan to the road map, and will insist on Israel’s dismantling settlements as a part of a final agreement.

Another administration official said that although the message was not new or unusual, it was “stronger language than you usually get out of U.S. officials.” The strong language was a response to “getting banged on” by Europeans and Islamic leaders for allegedly acquiescing to Sharon’s dismissal of the road map and the quartet. The official said that the administration feels particular pressure from British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who appears eager to “burnish his bona fides in the Islamic world.”

Apparently addressing concerns that the Bush administration does not intend to enthusiastically implement the road map, Powell said in Davos: “With intensive effort by all, the creation of a democratic viable Palestine is possible in 2005. And the United States will be engaging fully in this prospect, in this effort, in the coming months and years.”

An administration official said that Powell’s remarks were a toughly worded version of a message that has been repeatedly conveyed in private to Sharon and his aides in past months. “It is not new; it just has never been publicly put in such terms,” said the official.

Powell may have been alluding to press reports that Sharon is preparing to map out his own view of how a Palestinian state would be laid out. According to recent press reports, that map creates a “transportation contiguity” instead of a “territorial contiguity,” with a web of bridges and tunnels linking Palestinian population centers in the West Bank.

Steven Spiegel, a professor of political science at the University of California at Los Angeles, said that Powell’s language may have been aimed to be heard as Sharon savors a Likud victory in the elections. With the polls showing the results of Israel’s elections a done deal by the weekend, the speech may have been intended to influence what Sharon says and does after his victory, as he sets off to create a new government. Spiegel said that Powell’s statement “may be signaling that the administration has decided to move [toward the implementation of the road map] immediately, before a new government is formed,” and before a war with Iraq.

Other analysts agreed. Judith Kipper, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, said that the Bush administration means what it says when it indicates that it would strive for democratizing the Middle East after the Iraqi regime is changed, and for achieving a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “I think Powell was demonstrating his frustrations, and he wants to be very clear that ‘we mean it,’ that Israel will have to withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza.”

Lewis Roth, assistant executive director of Americans for Peace Now, said “it is encouraging to hear the secretary of state talking like that and recognizing that there are some serious problems with what Sharon has in mind.” The dovish organization recently launched a campaign publicly urging the Bush administration to link Israel’s request for loan guarantees to a freeze on Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

By contrast, Meyrav Wurmser, director of the Center for Middle East Policy at the conservative Hudson Institute, said that Powell “made a mistake” in characterizing the nature of the future Palestinian state, because doing so “clearly contradicted the president’s vision” of deferring the negotiations over the nature of the Palestinian state to the end of the process.






Find us on Facebook!
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • Is there a right way to criticize Israel?
  • From The Daily Show to Lizzy Caplan, here's your Who's Jew guide to the 2014 #Emmys. Who are you rooting for?
  • “People at archives like Yad Vashem used to consider genealogists old ladies in tennis shoes. But they have been impressed with our work on indexing documents. Now they are lining up to work with us." This year's Jewish Genealogical Societies conference took place in Utah. We got a behind-the-scenes look:
  • What would Maimonides say about Warby Parker's buy-one, give-one charity model?
  • For 22 years, Seeds of Peace has fostered dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian teens in an idyllic camp. But with Israel at war in Gaza, this summer was different. http://jd.fo/p57AB
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.