U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on Wednesday called on the Palestinians to end the four-year-old Intifada, as saying it is spreading terrorism and hindering the creation of an independent Palestinian state.
"What has it accomplished for the Palestinian people? Has it produced progress toward a Palestinian state? Has it defeated Israel on the battlefield?" Powell asked on Arab satellite television Al-Jazeera. His comments were translated into Arabic.
"It is time to end the uprising. We want a Palestinian state. The [U.S.] president wants the establishment of a Palestinian state for the Palestinian people which exists side by side with Israel," Powell said.
The United States, along with the United Nations, Russia and the European Union, form the "Quartet" of Middle East peace brokers, who authored the road map peace plan adopted by both Israel and the Palestinians, which calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state by 2005.
But said Powell, "This will only happen when terrorism ends."
"The uprising has helped spread terrorism and has not accomplished anything during these years except adding to the deterioration of the Palestinian economic situation and the deterioration of living standards in general among Palestinians," he added.
Violence has spiralled on the heels of the fourth anniversary of the uprising, which broke out following the visit Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount - a Jerusalem site holy to both Jews and Muslims.
"The uprising has prevented us from achieving progress in several peace plans," Powell said.
Members of the Quartet said after a meeting last Wednesday that no significant progress has been made in implementing it.
Powell again criticized Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat for not yielding authority to Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia so Qureia can organize Palestinian security forces to end terror.
On Tuesday, Qureia marked the anniversary of the intifada by urging Israel and his own people to rethink tactics that have brought four years of bloodshed.
Qureia called on Palestinians to reflect on past mistakes as well as successes, but proposed no specific changes and did not repeat previous criticism of Palestinian suicide bombings in Israel. He accused Israel of blocking peace by pursuing "crazy" policies.
Powell also criticized Israel, saying Bush is concerned by its settlement activity and for not destroying all illegal West Bank outposts.
But when the interviewer suggested Powell was blaming the Palestinians and supporting "the occupier," Israel, he bristled.
"Who are the victims?" he replied. "The victims are those who are being blown up by bombs."
"Israel has had to protect itself by going after individuals they believe are responsible for terror attacks," Powell said.
"And so, there are victims on all sides of this question," he said.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now