- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 7, 2002

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday that "there is no question" the Palestinian Authority has been involved with terrorist activities despite its promises to enforce security.
Mr. Rumsfeld said he doubted that Israel could turn over to the Palestinian Authority lands in the West Bank and Gaza and questioned whether those lands could properly be described as "occupied territory."
Meanwhile, reports from Jerusalem said Israeli troops killed the suspected mastermind of a Tel Aviv suicide bombing on Tuesday, while U.S. diplomats said the United States was considering moving consular offices out of traditionally Arab east Jerusalem due to security concerns.
In another move to deter potential attackers, Israel's interior minister threatened to revoke the citizenship of Israeli Arabs involved in bombings or shooting attacks on Israelis.
Early today, between 15 to 30 Israeli tanks and armored vehicles backed by helicopters pressed into the northern Gaza Strip, firing shells and machine guns at houses and searching for suspected militants.
In questioning whether the Palestinian lands are occupied territory. Mr. Rumsfeld said, it would be different "if you are giving it to an entity that has a track record."
Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat has already been linked to terrorism by President Bush in a June 24 speech calling for new Palestinian leadership. But Mr. Rumsfeld's remarks came just before the State Department announced that three Palestinian Cabinet ministers would hold talks in Washington tomorrow and Friday.
They are due to see Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's assistant for national security.
Despite the hard-line policies, Israelis and Palestinians appeared to be trying to work out cease-fire proposals that could lead to Israeli troops leaving some Palestinian areas.
Mr. Rumsfeld, at a Pentagon question-and-answer session with military and civilian workers, referred to the West Bank as "so-called occupied territory," signaling that he did not share the Bush administration's view of Israel's presence on the land.
"My feelings about the so-called occupied territories are that there was a war," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "Israel urged neighboring countries not to get involved in it once it started. They all jumped in, and they lost a lot of real estate to Israel because Israel prevailed in the conflict."
Mr. Rumsfeld was apparently referring to Jordan, which held the West Bank and east Jerusalem until it joined Egypt and Syria in the 1967 Middle East War. Israel won, and Jordan lost the territory.
Since then, Mr. Rumsfeld said, Israel repeatedly has offered to pull back, but "at no point has it been agreed upon by the other side."
At some point, the defense secretary said, "there will be some sort of an entity that will be established" that Israel can deal with securely.
"Maybe it will take some Palestinian expatriates coming back into the region and providing the kind of responsible government that would give confidence that you could make an arrangement with that would stick," he said.
Mr. Powell and Miss Rice will meet with Saeb Erekat, a senior adviser to Mr. Arafat, Economy Minister Maher el Masri and Interior Minister Abdel Raza Yehiyeh.
Civil reform and security cooperation are among the items on the agenda, State Department deputy spokesman Phillip T. Reeker said.
Mr. Yehiyeh met in the region with Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer late Monday, and more talks were planned.


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