Powell Warns Against Division of West Bank Into 'Bantustans'

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has cautioned against division of the West Bank into "bantustans," declaring that a future Palestinian state must be built of contiguous areas.

"In the West Bank, you've got to have a coherent, contiguous land, which, joined with Gaza, would constitute the state of Palestine," Powell told CNN television from France, where he accompanied President George W. Bush during celebrations of the 60th anniversary of D-Day.

Bush and French President Jacques Chirac discussed developments in the Middle East during their talks in Paris Saturday. The secretary of state said the outline of a future Palestinian state came up during these talks, and the US president supported the idea of the West Bank's contiguity.

"He was making the point that you can't have a bunch of little bantustans or the whole West Bank chopped up into non-coherent, non-contiguous pieces and say this is an acceptable state," Powell said.

Bantustans were tribal states declared independent by the white minority government of South Africa during the 1970s in the hope of staving off the collapse of the apartheid system.

Bush has said it was "unrealistic" to expect Israel to quit larger West Bank settlement blocs and that Palestinian refugees should not expect to return to homes lost when Israel was created in 1948.

The comment, made during a recent Sharon visit to Washington, was greeted warmly in Israel but with anger iby many Arab leaders, prompting charges of US complicity with Israel.