Koenig's Recent Commentary
Ironic Twist as Peace Spotlight
Focuses on Powell
- Bill Koenig
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May 7, 2003
Isn’t it ironic that the point man for the Bush Administration, Secretary of State Colin Powell, is the number one proponent of the Quartet Road Map?
Isn’t it ironic that the State Department and Colin Powell’s efforts helped keep Yasser Arafat in office five different times until President Bush nullified him in his June 24 speech? Surprisingly or not, Colin Powell now has the main role in the Israeli-Palestinian talks.
Could Powell and the State Department fail miserably in their peace efforts? History says they will. Everyone else who has been involved in the attempted parceling of God’s covenant land has met with total failure. Israel has had six prime ministers and the United States has had three presidents since the “land for peace” process began in Madrid, Spain October 30, 1991.
However, the spotlight is now on the State Department and they have a lot riding politically on the outcome. The Department of Defense believes they have the solution, which is the eradication of the terror groups who are interfering with the peace process and the democratization of the Middle East. They are also not backers of the Quartet’s Road Map.
Moreover, in the past two weeks former Presidential candidate Gary Bauer and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich have both spoken out harshly against the State Department (please see Frank Gaffney Jr.'s article on Gingrich and the State Department below).
President Bush’s Original Plan
As a reminder, President Bush originally wanted to be a facilitator and not an active participant in the ongoing Middle East talks. After violence worsened in Israel in early 2001 and at the urging of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek and Jordan’s King Abdullah II, President Bush became more involved. The State Department, in the summer of 2001, in cooperation with the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer convinced President Bush to develop a comprehensive Middle East plan. This was to be given by Colin Powell to the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2001. The 9-11 terror events halted the delivery of the speech. Powell eventually gave a message in November 2001, which was followed by months of horrific violence in Israel and failed peace efforts by retired Marine General Anthony Zinni.
President Bush, again frustrated with the terror and violence in Israel, brought Zinni home in late March and stopped actively working on the peace process. On April 3, 2002, the EU called on the United States to step down and let them take over the Middle East peace talks. President Bush hastily called a Rose Garden press conference the next day, April 4. He called on the Israelis and the Palestinians to get back to the peace table and said he was sending Colin Powell to the region the following week to discuss ways to jump-start the peace process again.
The violence continued and President Bush finally gave his long-awaited Middle East plan on June 24. Remember that the June 18 and 19 addresses were postponed due to two major suicide bombings in Jerusalem.
The Quartet (EU, UN, Russia and the U.S) designed their plan in late September and the plan was completed at the December 20 meeting at the White House. However, there were still differences between the Quartet Plan and the Bush plan. Primarily, the Palestinians would be required to stop terror first and then the talks would continue. The World community continues to want Israel to stop the settlement construction in conjunction with the cessation of terror.
We know if the settlements are tampered with America will be shaken to its core.
The Bush Peace Effort and Terror
President Bush believes the terror issue is one of the main reasons the peace talks have not been successful. He has stated the terrorists are attempting to stop the peace process, but we have shown how the Lord consistently seems to rebuke any attempt at peace using His covenant land.
President Bush knows the terror incidents are problems and has made cessation of terror the main contingency before starting the talks. Over 350 Members of Congress have stated the same contingency in a letter calling for no talks until the terror stops.
We have documented that 20 out of 22 major suicide bombings (loss of multiple lives and many injuries) in Israel since December 2001 have all occurred on the same day or within 24-hours of either former Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres or Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon stating Israel was in favor of a Palestinian state. Peres and Sharon numbered three times each for a total of six bombings. Sharon stated, “We will do whatever necessary for peace” (three bombings.) President Bush had one of his senior officials in Israel meeting with the Israelis and the Palestinians or Sharon was at the White House (eleven bombings). Otherwise, 90% of the bombings were averted or there was very little loss of life or injury. It appears the Lord lifts His hand of protection for a brief moment to send a message: Do not tamper with the covenant land!!
Also, it appears President Bush desires to remain in the key role, via the State Department, rather than turning over the peace efforts to other members of the Quartet. Moreover, the EU, the UN and Russia favor the Palestinians. Israel is not comfortable with having them in charge of the peace talks as she feels their hostility. British Prime Minister Tony Blair and British Foreign Minister Jack Straw have been actively trying to force the sides to the table. The main point man now is Colin Powell, but EU representative Javier Solana has stated in the last few days they want a greater role. We shall closely watch as this new stage unfolds.
Key Middle East News
Powell due in Israel on Saturday (Excerpt)
Click here for the full article.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell is expected to visit Israel on Saturday for talks about implementing the Road Map peace plan, an Israeli Foreign Ministry official said.
The official said that Powell was expected to arrive in the country on Saturday night, May 10.
US Asks UN to Make "Road Map" Call (Excerpt)
Click here for the full article.
The U.S. has asked the UN Security Council to officially call upon Israel and the Palestinian Authority to adopt the Road Map plan. The US proposal called on both sides to "act together to stop terrorism."
The Foreign Ministers of the European Union were more adamant in their demand. Meeting in Rhodes over the weekend, they said that the argument over Arafat's fate should not hold up the "complete implementation" of the plan, and that in any event they do not want Arafat "out of the picture." Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou even said that Arafat is "a historic figure, a critical player in the Middle East who can still have influence over the peace process." Javier Solana, the EU's Foreign Minister, said that Israel must be pressured to "implement the Road Map without conditions or changes," and that the Palestinians must "promise to stop the suicide attacks."
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will meet with Abu Mazen after Independence Day, which will be celebrated on Wednesday. Negotiations on security issues with the PA will resume afterwards, headed on the Israeli side by Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz.
Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, who served in the past as a US mediator in the Middle East, will meet with Israeli leaders today and this evening, including Sharon, Mofaz, and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom.
Powell: U.S. watching Syria closely (Excerpt)
MSNBC News Services - Click here for the full article.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday the Bush administration would be carefully watching Syria's "performance" in response to demands that it stop supporting anti-Israeli guerrillas and heed American plans for the Middle East after the war in Iraq. But a day after Powell met with Syrian President Bashar Assad and reported that the country has begun forcing groups the Bush administration considers terrorist organizations to close their offices in Damascus, several Syria-based militant groups said it was business as usual on Sunday.
DURING AN INTERVIEW Sunday on NBC's "Meet The Press," Powell again underscored his message to Damascus.
"My clear message to President Bashar Assad is that some of the policies you've been following in the past will not take you anywhere in the future," Powell said. "It's performance that we'll be looking at in the days and weeks and months ahead and he (Assad) knows that."
He said he made clear that the U.S. commitment to Middle East peace "would include Syria and Lebanon, and would include the Golan Heights," particularly sensitive issue for Syria. The Golan Heights are a rocky frontier plateau held by Israel since 1967.
Powell Rejects Syria's Proposal
On Saturday, Powell rejected Syria's request for immediate U.S. support for an Arab-backed U.N. resolution on ridding the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction -- a proposal obviously aimed at Israel.
Before his meeting with Assad, Powell said clearing destructive weapons from the region is a long-standing U.S. goal, but now is not the time to address that matter.
Shooting the messenger (Excerpt)
Frank J. Gaffney Jr. -
Click here for the full article.
Official Washington is notorious for its tendency to respond to unwelcome performance assessments by "shooting the messenger." The reaction to Newt Gingrich's recent, scathing critique of the State Department's conduct of diplomacy in recent months, however, seems closer to the gruesome punishment of "drawing and quartering" — in which the victim's arms and legs were chained to, and then pulled apart by, four horses.
Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is the president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.
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