November 3, 2001
WASHINGTON – A senior State Department official said on Friday the
Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation had turned into “an ongoing
process of calculated terror and escalation.”
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield said Palestinian leader
Yasser Arafat should stop the escalation by cracking down on the Islamist
groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad — groups with “darker interests.”
Speaking at a conference organized by the Center for Policy Analysis on
Palestine, Satterfield also said there was little the United States could do
unless the Israelis and Palestinians took steps to reduce violence and restore
He played down expectations that the Bush administration is working on a
Middle East peace initiative, saying that the parties themselves needed to have
a “vision” of peace.
“This (an initiative) remains an issue which we look at. We will move as
appropriate,” he added.
Satterfield repeated standard U.S. criticism of Israeli actions as provocative and
inflammatory but his words on the Palestinians were tougher than is usual from
“The intifada (Palestinian uprising), whatever its origin, has become an ongoing
process of calculated terror and escalation,” he said.
The intifada broke out in September 2000 after former U.S. President Bill
Clinton failed to mediate a peace agreement between Israel and the
Palestinians at Camp David.
At least 688 Palestinians and 182 Israelis have been killed in the 13 months of
violence, despite sporadic U.S. attempts to mediate truces and open the way
for peace talks.
“VIOLENCE, CHAOS AND DESPAIR”
The United States, Israel’s main ally and source of arms, has concentrated on
trying to end the violence, without demanding that Israel withdraw the West
Bank and Gaza or offering ideas about the shape a peace settlement might
Speaking of Arafat’s conduct, Satterfield said: “Good words, excellent rhetoric,
nice instructions sent but very little in terms of confronting those elements
whose interests are not in advancing the cause of the Palestinian people.”
“Those elements,” he said, want to create “violence, chaos and despair that
advances the darker interests of those like Hamas and Jihad Islami (Islamic
Jihad), who have little interest in a secular Palestinian leadership, little interest
in seeing a negotiated settlement.”
“It is in Chairman Arafat’s fundamental interests, not Israel’s, not ours, but his,
that he act decisively to confront these elements,” he said.
“In the absence of such concrete steps it is very difficult to establish the
credibility necessary to advance a meaningful political process,” he added.
He said the intifada had changed Arafat’s image in Israel back to that of “a
terrorist, a rogue, an enemy.”
“That has to be changed, but it can’t be changed by nice words by the United
States or the Europeans or anyone else. It has to change as a result of Arafat’s
own actions,” he added.
“Without the will, the determination and courage, without vision on the part of
the parties themselves … it would be difficult for the U.S. to reach in from
outside and compel or force a resolution.
Indeed, difficult is the wrong word, it’s simply not possible,” he added.