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December 10, 2004
Powell: No Negotiations Until After Elections

Colin Powell threw a bit of cold water on Palestinian hopes for new negotiations on statehood, declaring that the US would stick by the "road map" and any other negotiations before the Palestinian Authority elections would be premature:

Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Friday an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal could not be rushed, as Palestinians must first elect a president and both sides must begin to carry out the U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan.

"We can't rush it and the road map is the way and the road map is quite detailed with respect to the obligations and the responsibilities of the parties," he told a news conference.

His words may dent Palestinian hopes for a quick return to negotiations leading to a Palestinian state.

Everyone feels a sense of optimism that progress can finally occur with the death of Yasser Arafat -- the palpable relief from all concerned underscores the hopeless nature of his leadership, of course. However, the danger in going too fast is at least equal to that of going too slow. The Palestinians need to structure themselves for peace before any agreement can work. Too many corrupt and radical elements remain with the PA to give anyone much confidence in a peace accord successfully being implemented.

Powell and Bush have the right idea. Wait for the elections to produce a legitimate leader and determine if that person can provide serious partnership for peace. Then implement the road-map strategy to ensure that both sides meet their phased commitments. Simply giving the Palestinians sovereignty in the West Bank without building any track record of trust will quickly result in a complete meltdown of civic order, and probably would touch off a war -- a civil war between the PA and the radical Islamists, and then a war with Israel and maybe even Jordan and Egypt if it spread.

It took us 37 years to get here. Let's take our time and try to get it done right.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 10, 2004 12:16 PM

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