Secretary of State Colin Powell says the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East, William Burns, is going to Egypt next week to try to build pressure on the Palestinian Authority to curb anti-Israeli violence. He says if that happens, there can be progress on the international "road map" to an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord.
U.S. officials have praised the Egyptian government for its efforts to broker an agreement under which Palestinian factions will suspend attacks against Israel.
But at his news conference Thursday, Mr. Powell made clear that the over-riding U.S. objective still is to spur action by the Palestinian Authority to put terrorist elements out of business altogether.
Mr. Powell said Egypt and other Arab states should be pressing harder for a shift of security powers in the Palestinian Authority away from Yasser Arafat and toward Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia.
"I hope he can build a little momentum to get a little more pressure from Egyptian and others to place on the Palestinian Authority," he said. "They have got to get going, and they have got to wrest authority away from Arafat that will allow the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority to start taking action with respect to terror and violence. Now, the number on incidents has gone down. But there is still a potential where any one terrorist organization, any day of the week, can blow up any progress we've made."
Mr. Powell said he was confident if such a security commitment is made by the Palestinian Authority, there can be progress on the international peace "road map," which has been largely unfulfilled since its release by the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations nearly a year ago.
Under questioning, the secretary dismissed reports of frustration among the United States' "road map" partners over the Bush administration's stewardship of the peace plan.
He said the other "road map" sponsors are "as disturbed" as he is that progress on implementing the peace plan has been less than hoped for.
But he added they remain committed to the "road map," which he said is the only peace formula that has been accepted by Israel and the Palestinians and enjoys wide support in the international community.
The plan calls for a series confidence-building steps and other actions by the parties leading to a creation of a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel by the end of 2005.
Mr. Powell said a two-state formula "is the only solution that will work" and dismissed a scenario under which Palestinians would demand full rights with Israelis in a single entity.