|PRESS CONFERENCE WITH U.S. SECURITY COORDINATOR LT. GENERAL WILLIAM WARD|
Jericho Intercontinental Hotel
May 17, 2005
GENERAL WARD: First let me say good afternoon to each of you and thanks for being with us this afternoon here in Jericho. And it’s good for me to be here as well.
We had a very good meeting today. I’m pleased that so many countries are committed to assisting the Palestinian Authority. I’d like to make sure that you are aware of the establishment of this Security Sector Working Group, composed of donors interested in supporting the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian security reform. This forum will provide a platform for the Palestinian Authority to present its security sector plan to the international community and to facilitate the identification of projects that the international community can support.
The Minister of the Interior and National Security, Nasser Yusif, and myself will co-chair this group that will meet regularly. I commend Minister Yusif for establishing a dedicated planning group to focus on Gaza disengagement and long-term security planning. I look forward to working with the minister as the Palestinian Authority develops its security planning capabilities.
I would also like to note some of the concrete steps taken by the Palestinian Authority towards reform of the Palestinian security services. President Abbas’ directives regarding consolidating the security sector and reinforcing guidelines that all security contacts with foreign officials go through the Ministry of Interior have led to a new spirit and rededication to public service in the security forces. I’m encouraged by the progress that has been made by the Palestinian Authority within the security sector reform and I look forward to working with the Minister of the Interior and the Palestinian leadership as it continues its efforts in creating a properly structured, professional security sector that is accountable and responsive to legitimate civil authority with institutions that are grounded in the rule of law.
In the next three weeks I will be joined in the region by outgoing World Bank President Mr. James Wolfensohn. I welcome Jim Wolfensohn’s appointment as the special envoy for Gaza disengagement – a job [for] which he’s qualified – and I look forward to working with him.
This meeting today was a very significant meeting with the members of the Palestinian security planning team, comprised of the Palestinian security sectors – all branches’ representatives, both Gaza and West Bank – with the international assistance being rendered as they develop the plan for Gaza disengagement and long-term security sector reform to bring rule of law and law and order to the Palestinian streets and help combat terrorism in this region.
Thanks very much and I can take a few questions before I have to depart.
QUESTION: Mr. Ward, how much money did the donor community now pledge to pay (inaudible)?
LTG. WARD: The purpose of today’s meeting was to present to the donor community those items that are important for the overall security planning, and the integration of that planning with the civil component of disengagement to establish baselines so that there’s a good sense that security planning was moving forward in a cohesive and coordinated way that was linked to the civil aspects of disengagement so that the communities of nations will have confidence that, by donating assistance, in fact that assistance will be used in good and credible ways. And that was the purpose of today’s session and we’ve accomplished that purpose.
There were comments made about ongoing programs as well as a commitment on the part of the donors to continue to be supportive of this program. Other than that I won’t go to the specifics of the details, but more of that will be made available in the coming weeks and months.
QUESTION: Sir, the Israelis are going to build a wall around Ma’ale Adumim. What’s your policy?
LTG. WARD: My purpose here is to assist the Palestinians in rebuilding and restructuring their security sectors, to ensure that that process is legitimate, that it abides by the rule of law, is responsive to lines of authority that emanate from President Abbas through the Prime Minister to the Minister of Interior, so that as orders and instructions are issued that pertain to rule of law and controlling the Palestinian streets and providing for the security of its citizens, contributing to the security of this region, that they have a better chance of doing that. And that’s the reason that we are here, and we’re moving forward in that direction.
QUESTION: One problem that both sides, Palestinians and Israelis, (inaudible) Palestinian activists (inaudible) they gathered weapons from Jericho and Tulkarm. Did you discuss the issue, and what do you think of the Israeli (inaudible) of (inaudible) the withdrawal from the Palestinian cities of (inaudible)?
LTG. WARD: It is so critical that both sides understand the work being done to continue to move forward in realizing the Sharm understandings. It is resolved when the sides come together. They discuss the steps that have been taken based on their mutual agreement of what steps are necessary. They can then move forward to continue this process.
And based on the information that I have, I know that besides our meetings, they are talking, so I think that the necessary progress that needs to occur is in motion. To what degree that is fully realized, the discussion between the two parties gets to that. I know the (inaudible) committee has met; they will continue to meet to resolve and ensure that the conditions that had been agreed upon are realized so that the next steps can be taken. And I’ve spoken with both sides about that and I feel confident they both realize the urgency for continued progress for the collecting of weapons from the fugitives.
QUESTION: (inaudible) Israel keeps accusing the Palestinian Authority that it cannot actually dismantle the Hamas and Jihad Islamic [sic] military wings and that there is a lot of (inaudible) under the Palestinian Authority. What is your…?
LTG. WARD: The Palestinian Authority has taken essential steps to consolidate its forces, to restructure its forces, to cause a single line of authority to exist that will enable a more effective mechanism for dealing with law and order on the streets as well as for combating terrorism. The recent announcement by the President as well as the actions taken by the Minister of the Interior have all reinforced that stance, that objective, those goals. And as each day passes I look forward for more and more things being done that will operationalize on the street the words that have been spoken by the President that relate to one authority, one law and one gun. That has been talked to by the Minister of the Interior as well and has resulted in actions being taken that have contributed to a better realization of that. More to be done to be sure, to be sure.
QUESTION: What do you think about the Israeli security (inaudible) against Palestinians? In fact the Palestinians are implementing the ceasefire (inaudible).
LTG. WARD: There is much to be said for things that have already occurred. There is always room for improvement in anything, but there is also a sense that there are things that have occurred that have also been important in the continuation of this process.
And so what I would like to say that is that, from the standpoint of what’s being done on both sides, we hear a lot of what is not being done, quite frankly, from both parties. I would look forward to hearing from both parties the thing that the other party is in fact doing to help promote this process, because, to be sure, both parties are doing things to help with the process. It may not be enough in someone’s eyes or in all eyes, but to be sure there are steps being taken on both sides, by both parties, in this partnership for peace that say, “We look forward to making progress and to moving along the road.”
So I won’t comment on any specific criticism or critique, but only to say that an appreciation, an awareness, and an acknowledgment by both sides of what the other side is doing is something that I look forward to.
Thank you very much. Thanks for being here and good luck to all of you.