- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 30, 2001

PARIS — Amid fresh outbreaks of violence, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell yesterday said he is prepared for the prospect of failure as he steers Israel and the Palestinians to renewed peacemaking.
"The whole thing is being held hostage by the perpetrators of violence," Mr. Powell said on his way home from a three-day Mideast trip.
Mr. Powell described himself as realistic — neither optimistic nor pessimistic — about starting the plan accepted Thursday by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
The first projected step is a seven-day period of complete calm. It was demanded by Mr. Sharon and accepted by Mr. Arafat. Mr. Powell said the Palestinian leader pledged to make every effort to achieve quiet on a front that has been marked by bloody conflict since last fall.
But with yesterday's outbreak, Mr. Powell said, "This is not day one of anything because the violence continues. This is not going into the books as day one."
Palestinians fired a mortar shell and hurled grenades at Israeli positions in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military said. Palestinians also threw five hand grenades at an Israeli army post near the Egyptian border. No one was hurt in the incidents.
Five Palestinians were injured in murky circumstances near the Gaza town of Khan Yunis. Initial Palestinian reports said they were hurt by Israeli tank shells, but the Israeli army denied firing any. Officials on both sides said the men could have been injured while firing a mortar.
The sequence arranged by Mr. Powell to renew peace negotiations calls for a six-week cooling-off period after seven days of no violence, then implementation of "confidence-building" measures. These include a freeze on construction at Jewish settlements on the West Bank and Gaza, long an Arafat goal.
"Whether it will actually happen or not remains to be seen," Mr. Powell told reporters.
He said this should become clear in a week or so, and that he would not give up. "I may come up with a better shot later, but I am not sure what it is," he said.
On his way back to Washington, Mr. Powell consulted with several Arab leaders who urged a quick resumption of peace moves.
Mr. Powell talked by telephone to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. He met in Paris for nearly 90 minutes with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. And in Amman, Jordan, he met with King Abdullah II.
King Abdullah said that restarting talks must be preceded by "immediate and tangible Israeli steps to put an end to the suffering of the Palestinian people, including lifting the siege, paying outstanding financial obligations to the Palestinian Authority, reopening crossing points and ceasing settlement construction," according to a royal palace statement carried by the official Petra news agency,
The statement said Jordan's king also repeated his call for ending U.N. sanctions on Iraq and urged the United Nations to "resort to dialogue with Iraq as a way to deal with the situation."
Mr. Powell was met at the airport by the king. The two men climbed into the king's two-seater BMW sports car, and with Mr. Powell behind the wheel, drove to the Barakah palace.
Some Jordanian mosque preachers lashed out at the United States in Muslim noon prayers in the Jordanian capital, Amman. A preacher told worshippers at one mosque that Mr. Powell will try to persuade Arab leaders to accept the killings of Palestinians at "the hands of the criminal Jews."
Mr. Powell's visit to Jordan was overshadowed by the king allowing a Muslim radical leader to return home after nearly two years in exile in Qatar. Newspaper editorials, radio and television broadcasts focused on the royal amnesty to Hamas leader Ibrahim Ghosheh.
On Thursday, after meeting separately with Mr. Arafat and then Mr. Sharon, Mr. Powell endorsed the use of monitors to try to keep the fragile truce in effect — something Mr. Sharon opposed and the Palestinians have sought.
The United States has vetoed several proposals by the Palestinians in the U.N. Security Council to send a U.N.-supervised force to the area. Mr. Powell said the United States was still opposed to that proposal, but monitors selected by the two sides could be useful.

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