Powell says the Bush administration treasures Israel as a friend
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Bush administration was faced Wednesday with a fresh report it was preparing to pressure Israel to make territorial concessions, including part of Jerusalem, to the Palestinians.
Asked about it, Secretary of State Colin Powell said the administration treasures Israel as a strong friend.
”We will always support Israel’s security. And it is the democratic nation in the region that we absolutely treasure as a friend,” he said on NBC-TV’s Today program.
”So there should be no concern on the part of any Israel citizen or leader that the United States would ever do anything to sell them out or trade away their security,” Powell said.
Reports that the administration was preparing to propose a Palestinian state surfaced last week. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon complained that the United States appeared ready to appease the Arabs at Israel’s expense, as Nazi Germany was appeased at Czechoslovakia’s expense before World War II.
Powell denied the allegation, and the White House declared Sharon’s remark ”unacceptable.” Bush said he supported the idea of a Palestinian state provided Israel’s security was protected.
On Wednesday, The Boston Globe reported the administration was preparing to publicly increase pressure on Sharon not only to accept a Palestinian state but a viable Palestinian homeland that includes a ”shared Jerusalem.”
The newspaper said the State Department has prepared a draft containing that outcome.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Sharon already sees that any settlement with Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority would involve a Palestinian state.
Asked if the prime minister also had said he envisioned sharing Jerusalem, the spokesman replied: ”I don’t think so.”
Boucher said the administration was trying to get Israel and the Palestinians to stop fighting and to cooperate on security ”so that we can get into this process of rebuilding confidence and getting back to negotiations.”
The spokesman added: ”We’re not at a moment where somebody is going to plunk down a map of Jerusalem.”
Other officials at the White House and State Department would not discuss the reports.
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