U.S. Secretary of State today described as "disturbing" a recent photograph showing the
Authority's interim president, Mahmoud Abbas, being carried on the shoulders of Zakariya Zubeidi, whose arrest as a terrorist is sought by Israel because of his activities with the Al Aqsa Martyr's Brigade. Abbas eventually may have to use force against such terrorists, Powell also said.
"I know what Mr. Abbas is doing is running for the election," Powell told Tim Russert of NBC's "Meet the Press." "He has to reach out to all parts of the Palestinian community...What he has been saying with respect to the need to abandon terror and to move toward this opportunity for peace, that I believe is the prevailing position."
Abbas is considered the favorite to win election Jan. 9 to the Palestinian presidency.
"I think that he knows that the only way forward with a successful election behind him is to reform the Palestinian Authority, end
corrupttion, make sure that it's an Authority that rests on the law, reform the security services, and what he is going to find is that the Israeli government will be ready to work with such a partner for peace," Powell said.
"The Israeli government has already indicated it's going to continue to get rid of those
settlements... in Gaza and we have the prospect of moving forward. Now if the new
leadership of the Palestinian Authority— let's assume it is Mr. Abbas— if they don't move in that
direction, then we are going to be stuck again. So we need a reform Palestinian leaderership that
deals with this terrorist threat.
Mr. Abbas said that he hopes to persuade them, but that may not be enough. The challenge may be greater than that and he may have to undertake operations against
them. If he does that, shows a real commitment to end terror, I think he will find an Israeli
partner to work with him and he certainly will find the international community., especially the
United States, ready to play an important role."
Russert suggested that Abbas seemed to be pandering to terrorists.
"As I said that picture that I have seen was disturbing, but I don't think it reflects Mr. Abbas' overall approach to governing," replied Powell, who is soon to be succeeded as Secretary of State by National Security Director Condeleezza Rice.
Reflecting on his four years as Secretary of State, Powell said "If I had to list one thing that I wish we had been able to do more
abou—get the Middle East peace process moving and consolidate Iraq..." —Donald H. Harrison