Secretary of State Colin Powell and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon emerged from hours of talks today with no timetable for withdrawing Israeli troops from Palestinian cities and towns on the West Bank.
Instead of reiterating the Bush administration’s demand that the Israeli army withdraw from the West Bank "without delay," Powell said in a joint press conference: "I hope we can find a way to come to agreement on this point of the duration of the operations and get back to a track that will lead to a political settlement because that is uppermost in everyone’s mind."
Sharon gave no commitment on when the military operation would end. He said: "Israel is waging war against the infrastructure of Palestinian terrorism and Israel hopes to conclude this war very soon."
Today, we’re going to have a debate about what’s happening in the Occupied Territories. Is the Israeli invasion about rooting out terrorism, or is it about destroying the Palestinian Authority?
- Dr. Raphael Cohen-Almagor, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Communication at the University of Haifa. Also a member of Meretz, the civil rights party in Israel.
- Jeff Halper, coordinator, Israeli Coalition Against House Demolitions and Professor of Anthropology at Ben Gurion University. He has lived in Israel since 1973. Jeff has researched and written extensively on Israeli society and is the author of the book "Between Redemption and Revival: the Jewish Yishuv in Jerusalem in the nineteenth century." Jeff founded and directed Israel’s Committee to Save the Ethiopian Jews. He has been active in the Israeli peace movement for many years. As the Coordinator of ICAHD, he has forged a new mode of Israeli peace activity based on nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience to the Israeli Occupation authorities and in close cooperation with Palestinian organizations.
- Ali Abunimah, media analyst and Vice President of the Arab American Action Network.