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Source: United States of America
15 November 2004

Powell, Israel's Shalom Consult on Aiding Palestinian Election

Israeli foreign minister says Palestinians will have freedom of movement

Secretary of State Colin Powell and Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom met in Washington November 15 to consult about the new opportunities for peace following the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Shalom said Israel hopes that a more responsible and moderate Palestinian leadership will emerge from the election to replace Arafat on January 9, 2004. He said Israel will facilitate the election by allowing Palestinians freedom of movement to the extent that Israel's security is not compromised.

He said he expected that elections would not be held in East Jerusalem but the Palestinians living there might be allowed to cast ballots by mail, as they did in the Palestinian elections of 1996.

"[E]ven in the example of the last election in 1996, there were no elections in Jerusalem. Those Palestinians voted then only through envelopes through the mail office, so we didn't have election, even in 1996, then, in Jerusalem, and I believe it should be the same, that there would be no elections in Jerusalem," Shalom said.

The foreign minister said the Israeli government will make a formal decision about that matter soon.

Powell said the United States is pleased by the responsible manner in which the Palestinian leaders have started to come together. He endorsed the Israeli plan to disengage from Gaza and parts of the West Bank. Powell said President Bush will invest some of his "political capital" to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians once a new Palestinian leadership is in place and acting for peace.

Following is the transcript of Powell's and Shalom's comments:

(begin text)

Office of the Spokesman
November 15, 2004

Remarks by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell
And Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom
After Their Meeting

November 15, 2004
C Street Entrance
Washington, D.C.

(3:40 p.m. EST)

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I just had an excellent conversation with my colleague, Silvan Shalom. It's always a pleasure to have you here, Mr. Minister. And our conversation really focused on the opportunities that have been presented by the death of Chairman Arafat. We are pleased by the responsible manner in which Palestinian leaders have started to come together and we are pleased that they have set a date for an election for the new president of the Palestinian Authority, and the Minister and I spoke about what Israel will be doing to facilitate that election.

I said to the Minister that I hope that during my upcoming visit to the region, and especially at -- when I'm at Sharm el-Sheikh, we'll be able to convene a meeting of the Quartet to review the bidding and see what the Quartet can do, as part of our roadmap efforts, to assist in the process of moving forward down the path laid out by the roadmap.

I also expressed to the Minister my satisfaction that the disengagement plan that the Prime Minister has put forward and that we have endorsed back in April seems to be moving forward, and so there are new opportunities that have been presented by recent events, and I'm pleased that the Minister sees it in the same way, and that we will work together to take advantage of these opportunities and deal with the challenges that are ahead of us.

So Mr. Minister, it's always a great pleasure to have you here. I invite you to say a few words, sir.

FOREIGN MINISTER SHALOM: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. I'm very happy to be here once again, and to have this discussion with you. We had a very good and constructive discussion about what needs to be done in the day after in the Middle East. We are having a glimmer of hope that it might be, that the new leadership would be more responsible and more moderate. We would like to enable the Palestinians to have a free and fair election that will take place maybe in the January -- in January the 9th. Everything that is needed will be given to them in order to ensure that they will have the possibility to elect their new leadership.

We would like to see this new leadership is moving to a better place, better understanding with Israel, to move toward peace with Israel, but there are no shortcuts. We would like this new leadership to implement its commitments according to the roadmap. In phase one, it's written very clear that they should dismantle the infrastructure of terrorist organizations, that they will put an end to terrorism and violence and incitement. And I asked the Secretary to help us to achieve these goals. We would like to see the involvement of the American administration that was always involved in all the peace processes that we had in the past.

We believe that this new leadership can take a quick move by putting an end to the incitement in the radio and television textbook -- textbooks and after it to move toward dismantlement of the infrastructure of terrorist organizations.

I would like to tell you, Mr. Secretary, that I'm very sorry -- I was very sorry and I am very sorry to hear that you have decided to leave your position. You are a very good friend of Israel, but more than that, you are a very good friend of peace. And you have done everything you can in order to have better time, better future in our region, to have more stability, to bring hope to our peoples there, and for that I would like to thank you very much for your efforts.

You will continue with your efforts next week when you come to our region, and I don't want to summarize now. But still it's a big loss for me personally, it's a big loss for the state of Israel, and it's a big loss for the peace in the Middle East.

Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, Silvan. Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary --

QUESTION: Mr. Minister, if I may, you said that Israel's prepared to do -- you know, cooperate with the Palestinians. On the issue of the 200,000 Palestinians or Arabs living in East Jerusalem, should they participate in the balloting, in the election?

And, Mr. Secretary, when the Quartet meets, is there a need to revise or update or seriously change the roadmap?

FOREIGN MINISTER SHALOM: Jerusalem is the eternal capital, undivided capital of Israel, and we, of course, will do everything to keep it this way. About the Palestinians that are living there, I would like you to know that even in the example of the last election in 1996, there were no elections in Jerusalem. Those Palestinians voted then only through envelopes through the mail office, so we didn't have election, even in 1996, then, in Jerusalem, and I believe it should be the same, that there would be no elections in Jerusalem.

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't see any need to revise the roadmap. I think it lays out the responsibilities and obligations and commitments of both sides very, very clearly.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary --

FOREIGN MINISTER SHALOM: I would like, maybe -- sorry, one more thing. The Prime Minister has said that the final decision about the participants of the Palestinians in East Jerusalem in the next coming election will take place in few days. He will have a meeting and, our Prime Minister with some of the ministers that are involved with this issue, and we will take a decision about it in the near future. Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, last week President Bush said that he was, his Administration, would be willing to spend capital needed to advance peace in the Middle East. What specifically do you envision the next administration doing to advance this process, and what do you hope to do in the remaining time of your tenure? Thank you.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I hope to meet with the parties in the region who will be attending the Sharm el-Sheikh meetings, dealing principally with Iraq, but so many parties will be there that I'm sure we will get into a discussion of the possibilities for moving down the trail of the roadmap, and then I'm looking at other opportunities to visit with leaders in the region.

As the President said, he is prepared to invest capital. He did it last year when we all went to Aqaba, and that process did not go as far as we would have liked, but he's prepared to do it again when the conditions are right, when Palestinian leadership is in place, and when they have made clear what their commitments are and have started to act in those commitments, the President will invest political capital.


QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, won't your departure inevitably slow down this process? And Mr. Minister, the Palestinians have said that they cannot do this alone, that even the moderates who are aspiring to leadership cannot do this without a significant redeployment by the Israeli Army and greater access among the settlements, and also, voting in Jerusalem. So how can you expect them to crack down on violence when say you're not giving them what they need to take these steps?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, my departure does not make anything inevitable. We're going to keep moving forward. It's the President's policies that are being pursued and implemented, not Colin Powell's.

FOREIGN MINISTER SHALOM: As I've said, we'll do everything in order to give them the possibility to enable them to have their election, to have a free and fair election. We will do everything that is needed to give them freedom of movement, but of course, we'll do it while we are not doing anything to harm or to damage our security or our safety. We will do it in a way that will enable them to have the possibility to vote without, as I've said, damaging our security. I think it can be done and we are planning to do it. We will give them all the assistance that they will ask for and that they will need because we would like them to have a free election for the first time.

It will be very positive signal that in January we will have free elections in Iraq and within the Palestinian Authority. It might encourage some other countries in our region to ask for the same system of democracy to have an election in their countries. And we had enough being the only democracy in our region for almost 60 years. We would like others to join us.

SECRETARY POWELL: Do you want to call an Israeli reporter?


SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much.

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