Powell Unlikely to See Security Concessions

(Jerusalem Post) - Herb Keinon U.S. Secretary of State Powell will be disappointed if he expects Israeli security gestures to the PA at this point, since Prime Minister Abu Mazen's new government has not yet begun fighting terror, a senior diplomatic official said Thursday. The official said Israel may be willing to take some steps to relieve the dire humanitarian situation facing the Palestinians during Powell's visit, but that measures such as lifting roadblocks or pulling back troops will have to wait until the PA has a credible security force in place both willing and able to fill the vacuum. Referring to Thursday's targeted killing of Hamas fugitive Iyad al-Bek in the Gaza Strip, the official said these types of actions remain necessary because the number of warnings of terror attacks is very high. Moreover, he said, over the last 30 months terror attacks have increased when Powell or other special U.S. envoys, such as Anthony Zinni, have come to try to mediate the conflict. He said preemptive actions will continue until the PA takes the steps that will render them unnecessary. Sharon, he said, is expected to tell Powell that Israel is asking from the PA the same thing that is being asked of Syria - an end to support for terrorism. He denied reports that Sharon is trying to stall implementation of the road map. "What should we do, pull out troops and wait for another suicide bombing? And then what?" "We are ready to deal with the Palestinians. A meeting with Abu Mazen is in the works, but it is not taking place because of Palestinian domestic considerations." Greece currently holds the rotating EU presidency. Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou is to arrive for a two-day visit on Monday and intends to meet with Arafat, as a result of which Sharon is unlikely to see him.

2003-05-09 00:00:00

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