For Immediate Release
September 27, 2004
From remarks by Secretary of State Powell, New York Foreign Press Center, 9/23/04
The United States would like to see immediate progress in the roadmap to Middle East peace but, as President Bush said in his June 2002 speech, we need an empowered prime minister. The United States government does not believe Chairman Arafat was the individual who could serve as a responsible interlocutor.
The Palestinian people and the Palestinian legislature responded by creating the position and empowering it, but Chairman Arafat will not yield power and authority to that Prime Minister.
So many opportunities lay ahead if an empowered prime minister could work with Israel and with the international community. President Bush has made it clear that he is totally committed to his original vision of two states living side by side in peace and in security -- the state of Israel and Palestine.
The United States government is convinced that the proposal put forward by Prime Minister Sharon for withdrawal from Gaza settlements and the beginning of withdrawal from West Bank settlements provides an opportunity to move forward and into the roadmap, but it requires action on the part of the Palestinian Authority.
In recent Quartet meetings, leaders discussed the assistance that the Palestinian people continue to need from the international community. However, there is a weariness in the international community to continue providing that kind of assistance unless there is political reform and determination on the part of the Palestinian Authority to improve itself by having an empowered prime minister.