The White House
October 27, 1988
Thank you for your thoughtful letters of October 14 to the President and me, and for
the copy of the public statement you intend to release. The President and I share
your deep concern about the continuing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
Time is clearly not on the side of peace; the longer diplomatic stalemate persists,
the more extremists on all sides will benefit.
As Secretary of State Shultz has often emphasized, and as you note in your statement,
progress toward peace will require all parties to shed their illusions. Israelis must
see that security based on strength must allow for a fair and just accommodation with
Arabs. Continued occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is a dangerous situation that
only condemns Israelis to perpetual conflict with their Palestinian and Arab neighbors.
Palestinians must realize that slogans and rocks are no substitute for a realistic
political agenda. Palestinians can fulfill their aspirations only by engaging directly
with Israelis, and accepting Israel and its legitimate security requirements.
The initiative that the U.S. government has pursued over the past year is a serious
attempt to find a path toward political compromise. It is founded on two basic realities:
that negotiations must be based on the exchange of territory for peace envisaged in
U.N. Security Council Resolution 242; and that Palestinians and Israelis must recognize
that each have political rights that must be fulfilled. While dramatic breakthroughs
are unlikely in the near term, we will continue to do what we can in the remaining
months of this Administration to create a diplomatic framework on which our successors
I welcome your efforts to provide “positive reinforcement” for the peace process.
Your distinguished group can play an important and constructive role in highlighting
the need for progress towards a settlement, and in helping all parties to take a fresh
look at the costs of continued conflict and the benefits of peace. As you consider
how best to shape such a role, including the possibility of a visit to the Middle
East later this fall, I urge that you contact Assistant Secretary of State Richard
Murphy. I know that he would be glad to discuss the situation in the region with you
in more detail.
Colin L. Powell
Nobel Laureates for Peace
1625 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036