February 23, 2004

COLIN POWELL:

Last year the President took a large political step, with political risk, when he put enough pressure on the Palestinian side for them to come forward with somebody who could be seen as a peacemaker, the new Prime Minister Abu Mazen. And we went to Aqaba. The President stood there with the new Prime Minister, King Abdullah of Jordan and with Prime Minister Sharon, and everybody committed to the roadmap and the President’s vision.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work because the Palestinians were unable — and I put the blame squarely on Mr. Arafat — Arafat was not willing to provide authority to Abu Mazen to take control of the security organizations and to go after terrorism and speak out against terrorism — not to start a civil war of the Palestinian communities and the Palestinian Authority, but to start moving against terrorism.

“Was not willing to provide authority” is putting it rather politely. (Emphasis added.)

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