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On the Record

Powell’s Impossible Brief

Israel continued its defiance of the US on Thursday by stepping up attacks in some parts of the Occupied Territories while withdrawing from several small towns. The token withdrawals came as US Secretary of State Colin Powell was due to arrive in Tel Aviv in an attempt to halt the bloodshed.

So far, the Israeli army’s two-week sweep through the West Bank and Gaza Strip has resulted in the deaths of more than 200 Palestinians. Between 20 and 30 Israeli soldiers have been killed, 13 in a single encounter in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank. Despite repeated calls by US President George Bush for troops to withdraw, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has pressed on with the occupation.

Political scientist Ivo Daalder, a former advisor to the Clinton administration, believes that Mr Powell’s mission is doomed from the outset. In an interview with our correspondent Jaap van Weezel, he calls on President Bush to take bold steps to solve the crisis.

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