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Israelis, Palestinians Await Colin Powell's Mideast Speech - 2001-11-19

Israelis and Palestinians are anxiously awaiting a major policy address later Monday by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. The speech is expected to outline the Bush Administration's view of how to end the conflict in the Middle East.

After more than 13 months of violence, Israelis and Palestinians will be listening closely when Secretary Powell unveils the administration's vision and policy regarding the Middle East.

Mr. Powell has dismissed speculation that his speech would contain any major surprises, saying the key to ending violence is implementation of the Mitchell report.

The plan, prepared under the leadership of former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, calls for a cease-fire, a cooling-off period and confidence building measures leading to a resumption of peace talks.

In his speech, Secretary Powell is expected to urge Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to make the maximum effort to prevent violence and apprehend those committing terrorist acts against Israelis.

In recent weeks Mr. Powell and President Bush have endorsed the creation of a Palestinian state coupled with peace and security for Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon continues to insist that there be seven days of complete calm before the Mitchell report can be implemented. "In a meeting between myself and the Americans, we decided then that we need seven days in order to watch how Arafat implements the cease-fire. So that is what we have agreed to and that is our position and that is going to be our position in the future because I don't believe that we can reach peace unless there will be a complete cessation of terror and hostility," Sharon said.

Palestinians say Mr. Sharon's demand is aimed at destroying efforts to revive the peace process.

In continuing violence, Israeli soldiers killed two Palestinians in the Gaza Strip the army says were trying to infiltrate a Jewish settlement.

A top Palestinian security official says they were policemen who were on patrol near their headquarters when it came under fire.