Next Steps in Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process
by Daniel Pipes
Translations of this item:
[For background on this testimony, see "My Testimony before the House Subcommittee on Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations."]
2172 Rayburn House Office Building
Chaired By: Representative Gary L. Ackerman (D-NY)
Transcript by the Federal News Service.
REP. GARY L. ACKERMAN (D-NY): The subcommittee will come to order. Today the subcommittee had hoped to examine those realistic and productive measures that the parties directly and indirectly involved with the Israel-Palestinian conflict might have taken to restore a sense of hope and maybe even make some material progress towards peace. But in light of the Mecca Accord, which if implemented will create a Hamas-Fatah unity government for the Palestinian Authority, sometimes I'm not sure what's left to discuss.
Over the past six years there have been many plans and many envoys. And contrary to popular opinion there hasn't been a deficit of attention, merely a deficit of performance. Commitments made to the United States or between the parties have often been honored in the breach. The timing was never right. What was promised was never delivered.
There is always a provocation, an incident, an upcoming election, a crisis, an attack and so it is again today. Recent weeks held the promise of change, maybe not all but things were moving. The United States and Israel seemed ready to work with the Palestinians to provide some kind of political horizon, setting aside earlier obligations in the president's Road Map. Why? To strengthen Abu Mazen.
The president asked the Congress to agree to reprogram $86 million for the Palestinian security services. Why? To strengthen Abu Mazen. Secretary Rice agreed to participate in a tripartite meeting next week. Why? To strengthen Abu Mazen.
And what has Abu Mazen done to strength himself? He has capitulated to Hamas. The Mecca Accord neither strengthens him nor helps the cause of peace. I, for one, have been urging a different kind of assistance to Abu Mazen, suggesting both publicly and privately that significant economic assistance should have been provided to him long ago. We're now well beyond that point and due to the courtesy of our friends in Saudi Arabia, we now have what Secretary Rice once said we could not accept, a Palestinian Authority with quote, "one foot in terror and one foot in democracy."
How can anyone describe what happened in Mecca over the weekend as progress is beyond me. And if in Abu Mazen we have seen a leader who has chosen a form of government with a multiple personality disorder, in Israel we see a government suffering from depression, schlepping along with no mandate except that provided by inertia. Things seem so hopeless and fearful in the region that Arab governments are actually threatening to begin cooperating with each other.
I had hoped that this hearing would explore ways to fill the gaps between high minded principles and facts on the ground. So many Americans, indeed so many people across the world, are desperate to see some kind of progress, some indication that this conflict between two people fated to share the same land can at least be put back on the path towards peace. Instead, we have to contend with the implications of the Mecca Accord and those implications look severe.
The Mecca Accord seems quite clear on the necessity of Hamas accepting the Quartet's three non-negotiable conditions for the resumption of assistance to the PA. It ignores these conditions all together. Hamas is not required to recognize the state of Israel. Hamas does not have to commit to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through exclusively non-violent means. Instead, Hamas has to respect, but not necessarily obey, the prior obligations and agreements of the Palestinian Authority.
Must Israel renegotiate and try to exist every time the Palestinians change government? That would be lunacy. In exchange for this massive reversal, Hamas (through ?) Abu Mazen could pick a new foreign minister and a new finance minister. The foreign minister would be responsible for explaining the political disaster to the world and the finance minister will have the job of distributing funds, the Mecca Accord will preclude the PA from receiving from members of the Quartet.
It is a trifecta of a diplomatic disaster. Abu Mazen has gutted his own credibility, empowered his opponents and taken it upon himself the responsibility for the inevitable failure of his two-headed monstrosity of a government. Yogi Berra had it right. It is deja vu all over again.
I'd like to turn now, with great pleasure, to my partner on the committee, the ranking Minority Member, Mr. Pence.
REP. MIKE PENCE (R-IN): I thank the chairman for the recognition as well as his calling this extremely important hearing. I am greatly privileged to serve in the capacity of ranking member on this subcommittee and can't help but feel that the chairman's decision to begin our work on this subcommittee on this issue is commendable and appropriate.
Mr. Chairman, I know we share a commitment to the long term health and security of Israel and it is heartfelt in both of our lives. She is our staunchest ally in the Middle East and one of our best friends in the world. Fifty-nine years after the birth of the modern state of Israel and 30 years after the beginning of the first Camp David Accords, the very existence of Israel still goes unrecognized by the Palestinian leadership and most of the Islamic world. The absurdity of Israel enduring years approaching decades of negotiations with an entity that does not recognize its right to exist, is historically striking. The fact that this is still a subject of negotiation is outrageous.
Mr. Chairman, contrary to some of the testimony we're about to hear with respect, I believe this problem is not shrouded in great mystery or complexity. As President Ronald Reagan often said, there is a simple answer, not an easy answer but a simple answer. We'll hear talk about the U.S. being an honest broker. We will hear talk about a return to the Road Map, to more action by the Quartet, of re-starting the peace process. And I will listen intently.
We'll hear a lot of discussion about confidence building measures and processes now on the political horizon. But Mr. Chairman, I plead with the Palestinians and the Arab world, if they are serious about peace, take the simple answer, not the easy answer, but take the simple step of recognizing Israel and renouncing violence against it. In fact, the Bush administration and several European countries have three basic conditions required of the new Palestinian government, and we know them well: recognize the right of Israel to exist, foreswear violence and accept previous Palestinian agreements.
On 8 February, as the chairman has reference, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Fatah and Hamas signed an agreement to form a national unity government in hopes of lifting the international embargo and ending their own virtual civil war. The step is hailed in many quarters, notably the governments of Russia and France, as a breakthrough. But none of the basic steps that have been at the center of our expectation in this region were met, as the Chairman has noted eloquently.
Even before the Intifada, Hamas spokesmen would tell the world there is no—quote, "We will never recognize Israel. There is nothing called Israel," he said, "either in reality nor in imagination," close quote. This agreement is not a step towards reform, since it does not come close to addressing this basic problem, in my judgment. The new Palestinian government is a hybrid still dominated by Hamas. Hamas holds nine cabinet ministries to Fatah's six. One of our witnesses, David Makovsky, describes the Mecca Agreement as a victory for Hamas, since a unity government has been one of its standing goals.
In spite of the president's first approvals of direct funding of Palestinian Authority, in the anticipated request of $73.5 million for Fiscal Year 2008 in aid to the Palestinians, I ask, Mr. Chairman, how can we support funding any official Palestinian entity when an internationally recognized terrorist organization dominates that government? The fact that Hamas was chosen by the Palestinians to represent them is a bigger obstacle to peace than is any disengagement by this administration of the peace process. Mr. Chairman, as an aside, without giving my opinion on the peace process, let me speak a little in defense of the administration's efforts.
This subject was a priority for Secretary Powell and is a priority for Secretary Rice. General Zinni was dispatched along with shuttle diplomacy in 2001. And, in fact, Secretary Rice will return to the region in five days. I do not believe that the peace process has suffered primarily from a lack of administration attention.
I also know, Mr. Chairman, parenthetically, that the president must face criticism from the Congressional majority for not opening an active dialogue with Iran and Syria, which I would point out are both internationally recognized terrorist regimes. But virtually no one in this Congress on either side of the aisle has ever called on the (many powers ?) of this world to negotiate directly with Hamas, one of the main beneficiaries of those regimes. If negotiating with terrorists is (our ?) policy, I would offer that we shouldn't hear so many admonitions about negotiating with their patrons.
Mr. Chairman, today marks the 2 year anniversary of the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, which was credibly linked with Syrians who then occupied that country. That outrage and so many events in this region remind us that not everything is a matter of negotiation, dialogue and talk. Some (persons ?) are evil, prone to violence and hostile to civilization. Mr.
Chairman, thank you again for calling this hearing. I look very much forward to our witnesses, to their presentations and our dialogue that will follow.
REP. ACKERMAN: Thank you very much, Mr. Pence. Congratulations and I look forward to working with you on the committee. The chair will follow the general procedures of the full committee in recognizing members in order of appearance at the meeting at the time the gavel was struck.
REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. There is incredible aching in this room for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. We're now told that not only would it be good for the Holy Land, but perhaps Shiites and Sunnis would stop fighting each other in Baghdad if only Israel made concessions. A peace agreement would be a good thing. We shouldn't over sell it.
But it is hard to begin thinking of a peace agreement if the government of the Palestinian Authority doesn't recognize the three conditions: recognize Israel, renounce violence and affirm adherence to previous agreements with Israel. The response of this new entity that has been created by discussions in Mecca fails on all three counts. Three strikes and you should be out.
The new government does not recognize Israel or renounce violence and it does not - and if you do not recognize Israel it is hard to reaffirm agreements made with Israel. The agreement, instead, stresses the importance of confronting the occupation, which means it endorses the continued use of violence and terror. Hamas, when it uses the term occupied territories, refers not only to Ramallah but to Tel Aviv.
Hamas is adamant that the agreement does not recognize Israel, as I believe my colleague from Indiana quoted. Their senior leader in Gaza said we will never recognize Israel. There is nothing called Israel, neither in reality nor imagination.
Finally, immediately after signing the agreement with Abbas the top Damascus-based Hamas leader, Khalid Mashaal, I apologize if I mispronounced his name, continued to call for attacks on Israel saying, "We devote ourselves to the battle for Jerusalem and we, Hamas, battle for our prisoners in order to recover our rights and enable the refugees to return to their homes." What this means he says, refugees return to their homes. He means the Ahmadinejad approach, which is that roughly 5.5 million Israelis should be excluded, ethnically cleansed from the Middle East and that any Arabic speaking person who claims, because there are no records, that they or any member of their extended family or any of the ancestors (that are ?) forgoing, ever lived where Israel is now has the right to move to Israel.
Israel is alone among the countries of the world where people try to turn back the clock. No one suggests that Australians should not live in Tasmania where once it was exclusively occupied by Tasmanians. No one says it is wrong for Turks to live in (Silesia ?), though it was once part of a (Silesian ?) kingdom.
And no one says that it is wrong for Poles to live in what was once called East Prussia. Yet somehow we are told that the clock in the Middle East should be turned back. Not all the way back to before (inaudible), not all the way back to Roman times, but only turned back to some propitious moment at which Jewish residency and members and population in the Holy Land was at a low point.
Those who declare that the clock must be turned back can only confront the results of that thinking in Kosovo and which was once called Old Serbia, where Milosevic believed the clock should be turned back. Ethnic cleansing is often (a prelude ?) to genocide and it seems to be the ideology governing this new Palestinian Authority agreement. So I look forward to a time when Israel has a partner for peace, but until then we should recognize that self delusion is not a substitute for having a peace partner and that pressure on Israel will not bring peace to the Holy Land and certainly won't help our other efforts in the Middle East.
I yield back.
REP. ACKERMAN: Perfect timing, you had six seconds left. Thank you very much. I now recognize Representative Klein who is a new member of the House as well as of the committee and we welcome you to the committee.
REP. RON KLEIN (D-FL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm delighted to serve with the ranking member as well as the other members of this committee. I've had a long personal interest in Middle East policy as a civilian, as somebody who has been very anxious to make (exchange ?) efforts as well as travel. I know a lot about the history but have a lot more to learn. I look forward to learning more about the United State's policy in terms of where we need to be at this moment in time.
My people all understand that historically the United States, administration after administration, has tried many different avenues. It is tried to bring peace and stability to Israel and its neighbors, sometimes with more success than others. But, this is an ongoing issues. And when we have pulled back from our active involvement, our active responsibility, unfortunately many times things have happened that spiral out of control.
That being said, I had the chance to be over in Israel last year during the war, up in the Haifa area, and once again we see visually, first hand, when missiles are coming down and the media is reporting missiles going down the other way and the world seems to cast a blind eye toward that event. So, we understand as American citizens that Israel is a strategic issue for us, the only true democracy, our friends in the area. But we obviously know that Israel's relationship with the United States is extremely important to the United States and its citizens.
And we need to continue to be vigilant and diligent and recognize that our active involvement in the Middle East as a whole and - (specifically ?) - is something that will be necessary for Israel's long term safety and security. But let's not mix up the differences between solving the Israel-Palestinian issues as solving everything else in the Middle East. There are lots of complicated issues in the Middle East and certainly we ought to do everything we can to continue to provide safety and security for Israel, but don't let it get tangled up in the recognition, the -- (inaudible) -- if you solve that problem you've solved everything else in the Middle East. I think we all understand that's a misnomer and a misunderstanding promoted by certain people.
So, Mr. Chairman, I look forward to learning and listening and being part of this committee and hoping to work with the administration and moving a real peace process along. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. ACKERMAN: Thank you very much. Next we'll hear from Representative Scott, not new to the Congress but new to the committee. Welcome aboard.
REP. DAVID SCOTT (D-GA): Thank you very much, Chairman Ackerman. It is indeed a pleasure to serve on this committee and the Subcommittee on the Middle East and areas are very important, and at no more critical time than now. I was last in Israel a couple of years ago and had the distinct pleasure of speaking with, on one hand and at one meeting, with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. And then the same day just a few hours later with Abu Mazen.
And our hope was great at that time. At that time we were discussing the feasibility of building a fence of protection, which is certainly Israel's right to defend itself. We felt that with Abu Mazen we were moving in a strong direction. No one could have foreseen that just a few years later we'd be in a situation where a basic terrorist organization, Hezbollah and Hamas, would be in the rather strong positions that they are in now.
It often brings to mind the wondrous challenge of whether or not peace can be found. But as I ponder that I'm also reminded of the interchange between two great Americans in the Civil War: Robert E. Lee and Abraham Lincoln. It was in the throes of that war that they had a conversation where one said, I believe it was Robert E. Lee, who said, "It is not incumbent upon us to complete the task." Before he could finish that sentence Abraham Lincoln said, "But neither are we free to desist from doing all we possibly can."
I believe that is the cornerstone of this subcommittee, the Foreign Relations Committee and we must do everything we can to bring peace to this region. And I believe we can do that. We're going to have to talk to people that, unfortunately, in some measure we're not talking to: Syria and Iran, and bring this about. So, Mr. Chairman, I really look forward to the hearing today and I look forward to working with the members of the committee and to my other distinguished colleagues.
I yield back the balance of my time.
REP. ACKERMAN: Thank you very much, Mr. Scott.
The chair is delighted to recognize the senior member of the committee and an old hand on the subcommittee as well, Howard Berman.
REP. HOWARD L. BERMAN (D-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is a pleasure to be on your subcommittee once again with a new ranking member and a number of new colleagues. There is a lot to say but I - you've really assembled for your first hearing a wonderful group of people who truly can be called experts. And I'd be curious to hear what they have to say, so I'll yield back.
REP. ACKERMAN: Thank you, Mr. Berman. A long time member of the House, a new member to the subcommittee, Sheila Jackson-Lee.
REP. SHEILA JACKSON-LEE: Mr. Chairman, thank you for your graciousness and particularly in utilizing the term old time and not old. Thank you for that kindness. I thank the ranking member and I am pleased to join this subcommittee as a new member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and to represent my views on the Middle East, which can be characterized as a hopeful optimist.
And I say that because for the last two-plus years the 18th Congressional district which I represent has sent about 17 people from our inner city schools to Israel every summer. They've come back changed and despondent. And they've spoken to young people from one end of Israel's great land to the other end. And these families that have hosted them have expressed a sense of hope and optimism.
As I look forward to the testimony, and the chairman (is holding ?) two hearings, I also in my thoughts - we did have a period of intense engagement in the waning hours of the Clinton administration that at least had the doors of dialogue open. Some may have agreed with that process, others may have not, but you cannot agree or disagree with the fact that the process was ongoing. We need to engage intensely again, speak to the hopefulness of Israelis and the hopefulness of many Palestinians, families, young people who don't want violence, don't want suicide bombings. They want hope and education and prosperity.
I do believe that the experts that we are about to hear and the leadership of this chairperson and ranking member, that we will be able to move that (dodge ball ?) along a little bit further and bring hopefulness and hopefully peace to the Middle East.
And with that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back my time.
REP. ACKERMAN: Thank you very much. This being the first meeting of the subcommittee I'd just like to introduce the staff director for the committee, Dave Adams, who sits to my right. In back of him, our professional staffer, Howard Diamond. Sitting at the small table to my right again, Dalis Blumenfeld who is our staff associate. And sitting over here to my left is Greg McCarthy who is the minority professional staffer. So, welcome. Everybody get to know them.
There certainly being no further members who wish to be recognized, we'll turn to our three witnesses. I'd ask each of them to summarize their testimony if they can, and without objection their full statements will be entered into the record. Joining the subcommittee today are David Makovsky, Ambassador Martin Indyk and Dr. Daniel Pipes.
David Makovsky is the Senior Fellow and Director at the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He is also an adjunct lecturer in Middle Eastern studies at Johns Hopkins University, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.
Ambassador Martin Indyk is the Director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy and Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution. Previously, Ambassador Indyk served as U.S. ambassador to Israel, assistant secretary of State for Near East Affairs, senior director for the Near East and South Asian Affairs at the National Security Council, and he is a wonderful host when you get to visit him wherever he serves in his post.
And last but not least, to my left but certainly to the right of the panel is Dr. Daniel Pipes, who is the Director of the Middle East Forum and distinguished visiting professor at Pepperdine University. He served the United States in two capacities. First, as vice chairman of the Fulbright Foreign Scholarships and also as a member of the board of the U.S. Institute of Peace, and probably had the most difficult time of the panel in getting here, with all kinds of airport problems across the country. We're so happy you persisted and are with us today.
We will begin with David Makovsky.
MR. DAVID MAKOVSKY: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Chairman Ackerman, Ranking Member Pence and distinguished members of the Middle East Subcommittee, I'm pleased to appear before you today.
The Israeli-Palestinian political landscape has been rather bleak over the last several years.
Between 2000 and 2004, the second Intifada has brought almost unremitting terror and violence. Despite Israeli's pull out from Gaza in the summer of 2005, the parliamentary victory of the rejectionist Hamas party in January of 2006 contributed to this downward trend. Compounding the problem of peacemaking today has been the inadequate leadership, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Both leaders have been weakened, Olmert by the consequences of the war in Lebanon and Abbas by his willingness to yield to his Hamas rivals.
This trend was demonstrated last week at the Mecca summit. The agreement signed there will greatly complicate Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's effort to reach a quote, "political horizon," end quote between Israelis and Palestinians which is scheduled to be launched next week in Jerusalem at a meeting with Olmert and Abbas. Secretary Rice's mission is to create a political horizon for the Palestinians, specifically a discussion rather than a formal negotiating channel between Olmert and Abbas to see if they agree on principles that would shape the contours of a final deal. According to this view, Secretary Rice sees a political horizon discussion in both validating Abbas' focus on negotiations instead of violence, and satisfying Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's belief that such a wide ranging discussion avoids ensuring that Israeli concessions are made in a contextual vacuum.
Livni, and apparently Rice, believe that only under the rubric of discussing principles about a final status agreement can significant tradeoffs be reached and a grand bargain be struck. And then the Roadmap implementation will flow easier. It is critical to understand how the recent Mecca summit has undercut this endeavor. While there are favorable aspects of the accord, especially the prospect of halting internecine Palestinian violence, the negative side weighs heavily.
The Mecca accord is a victory for Hamas, which has achieved its goal of forming a unity government without agreeing to the conditions imposed by the Quartet, namely no recognition of Israel, no disavowal of violence and no commitment to agree to past written agreement. At Mecca, Hamas resisted Abbas' insistence that Hamas commit to these principles. It is hard to escape the conclusion that Abbas has, in fact, legitimized an unrepentant Hamas. A rationale for Secretary Rice's political horizon initiative was done in no small measure in order to help bolster Abbas at Hamas' expense, to show that progress comes through negotiations and not terror. Israeli officials may wonder how it would be possible to proceed with such weighty issues as a political horizon under such circumstances.
Moreover, there is ample reason for skepticism that the PA coalition policy guidelines will substantially be better than Mecca. Hamas' Haniye will be the prime minister. Palestinian Authority officials are now publicly saying that the Hamas Executive Force militia of Gaza will continue and this time they'll be financed by the PA. Hamas has the right to put forward quote "an independent," unquote name as Interior Minister. This person would head the security services. All have implications for U.S. policy.
People who felt there was a logic to bolstering Abbas against Hamas' growing strength and therefore supported the security mission of General Keith Dayton and $86 million in non-lethal security assistance, must now wonder if the new Palestinian coalition alignment could lead to a very different outcome. Clarifications about this new setup are critical. Irrespective of the Dayton issue and the $86 million, the Quartet should keep to its three criteria. Such a commitment by the Quartet has not meant a cutoff of funds toward the regional and humanitarian needs.
According to the U.N. Special Coordinator's office in the Middle East, they confirmed earlier this week overall foreign aid to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza reached $1.3 billion in 2006. It is estimated that this is 10 percent above the year before, although there is an obvious shortfall of tax revenues passed along by Israel.
It is hard to see how Secretary Rice's mission on creating a political horizon can succeed without the active involvement of the Saudis and Egyptians who are critical at the backing of compromises, including the key issue of whether refugees cannot just—whether they'll be able to go of course to a Palestinian state, but whether the Palestinians will insist they go to Israel. This is a deal breaker. Compromise on this issue would enable Israel to also make concessions on the peer editorial (ph) issue which would be serious. Therefore, without Arab backing, Abbas is unlikely to succeed and the political horizon will fail.
In the wake of the Mecca accord, as the Saudis lead from the back stage to the center stage when it comes to Middle East diplomacy, one of my key conclusions is a belief that there is a need for high-level urgent U.S.-Saudi consultations about whether the two countries share a common outlook towards peacemaking. A benign interpretation of Riyadh's intentions is that the Saudis realize the risk of radicalism and are ready to take the plunge into Arab-Israeli peacemaking. According to this view, there is a changing regional context that could create opportunities. There is little doubt that the Saudis, along with Egypt and Jordan where I just visited, fear that an ascendant Iran of envious existing order, and if Iran pursues nuclear weapons, this could change the balance of power in the Middle East.
The wake-up call was last summer between the war between Israel and Hizbullah. But there is also a less benign interpretation. It states that what is driving Saudi Arabia now is sectarianism without the pursuit of Arab Israeli peace. Under this view, Riyadh has no problem supporting Hamas' program so long as they are sitting and can keep uranium money and spare of influence at bay. Therefore, it would be critical for the U.S. to explore Saudi objectives and strategies.
Moreover, for a political horizon to succeed, one needs to consider whether Riyadh and Cairo are willing to do something they were not willing to do in 2000 at the time of the Camp David in July and the Clinton Parameters in December. Namely, they need to provide that requisite political cover for Abbas to compromise it. If they do not, unlike 2000, I would urge that they need to know that from the United State that they had be politically exposed for failure to do their share.
In short and in conclusion, if the Bush Administration is really serious about a political horizon, it needs to have a dialogue not just with the Israelis and the Palestinians but also with our Arab friends to discern the depth of their commitment to peacemaking in a very specific way. The Mecca experience suggests that not everyone is on the same page to put it mildly. This is not a good omen, as peacemaking requires broad support. But without such assistance, there is little prospect that Secretary Rice could succeed, but instead her mission could constitute motion without movement.
Thank you very much.
REP. ACKERMAN: Thank you very much, Mr. Makovsky.
AMB. MARK INDYK: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to address this subcommittee. I want to begin by congratulating you on assuming, the chair, and it is very good to see you in that position.
There is a strange disconnect, which I think you, Mr. Chairman, know and refer to in your opening remarks, between the initiative that the secretary of state is about to embark upon for peacemaking in the Middle East and the reality on the ground. And that disconnect seems certain to end such that it is futile. So why then is she engaging? I think as David has suggested, she sees and she speaks of a new opportunity emerging from the war in Lebanon last summer when Israel and Saudi Arabia, in particular, found themselves on the same side for once against Hezbollah and Iran. And it is this emerging threat from Iran, the sense that Iran's rise in the region, is generating a common threat to both Sunni moderate Arab leaders and to Israel. That, I think, is what gives the secretary the sense that there may be an opportunity here.
Since all these neighbors face a common threat from Iran, the assumption is that they have a common interest in working together. But such a virtual alliance can only cohere if there is a basis for the Sunni leaders, particularly King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, to demonstrate that he has a justification for co-habiting with Israel, and there the glue of this virtual alliance is progress on an Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
That kind of new opportunity is something that she is now trying to take advantage of through this idea of developing a political horizon of a two state solution that would give Israelis and Palestinians a better sense of what they can expect at the end of the peace process: what the approximate borders of the Palestinian state might look like; whether refugees would have a right of return to Israel or not; what would happen to the major settlement blocks; how could you reasonably become the capital of two states? This is the kind of agenda which I believe she wants to discuss in talks with Prime Minister Olmert and President Mahmoud Abbas.
Ironically, this is what President Clinton intended to do at the end of his administration when you proposed the Clinton Parameters for an Israeli-Palestinian final status agreement. The difference between the secretary's political horizon and President Clinton's Parameters is likely to be very little indeed. I believe that the secretary deserves Congressional support for this effort, not just because of its closeness to the Clinton approach, which I had a role in helping define. It is rather because defining the end-game of peace negotiations with greater granularity has been sorely missing from the Bush Administration's approach over the last six years.
It is absent from the Roadmap of the Quartet which defines the phases through which the parties must pass, but is silent on what awaits them on the other side. That has done little to assuage Israeli fears that Congressman Sherman referred to, that the Palestinian state that might emerge will merely be a spring board for further efforts to destroy the Jewish state. And it is done little to persuade the Palestinians that the state that President Bush has offered them will be viable, contiguous, and independent.
Defining a political horizon can therefore boost confidence in the process and enable the Israeli-Palestinian leaderships to better justify the painful steps that would have to be taken along the way. It is not a substitute for the Roadmap but rather a complement to it and a means of encouraging the long delayed journey along it by both sides. All of this should be welcome news.
But the secretary's initiative comes late in the game when the ground seems unfertile for this new effort. My colleague, Dave Makovsky, has already referred to the weakness of both Prime Minister Olmert and President Mahmoud Abbas, the secretary of state's partners in this new effort. I think that Olmert's first priority is to ensure his own political survival.
He has to stabilize his government, and without doing that he cannot pursue a peace process which is inherently destabilizing because of the secretary's idea that they should now discuss the politically (fraught ?) of issues of settlements, refugees, Jerusalem, etcetera. At a minimum, I think he will want to wait at least until the Labor Party leadership contest is resolved at the end of May. And he may have a different partner in the Labor Party leader and defense minister to work with.
On the other side, President Mahmoud Abbas is engaged in his own struggle for survival with Hamas. To head off an incipient civil war in Gaza, Abu Mazen, Mahmoud Abbas, has now, as we know, joined forces with Hamas in this National Unity Government. Hamas in the process has considered some important portfolios in the Interior, Finance and Foreign Ministries. It no longer has the majority in the cabinet, the 15 of the portfolios are not in Hamas' hands—that's 15 out of 24. It only has nine now.
But he has not yielded on its fundamental principles that it will not recognize Israel nor forswear violence and terrorism, it calls resistance. So in these circumstances, how can the secretary and Prime Minister Olmert engage with Abu Mazen? From a legal standpoint, Abu Mazen, as Chairman of the PLO, has the legal authority to negotiate with Israel. All the previous negotiations with Israel were conducted by Israel, the government of Israel, and the Palestine Liberation Organization.
They were not conducted with the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority is a product of the agreements that were struck during those negotiations. And Israel still, from a legal standpoint, is dealing with the PLO when it comes to negotiations, especially final status negotiations. So he's fully empowered to negotiate with Israel, and one option, the option that I think both Prime Minister Olmert and the secretary of state are going to take, is simply to ignore the fact that Hamas is now in a cohabitation agreement with Abu Mazen as they conduct these talks about the political horizon.
But Prime Minister Olmert's rivals are not going to be willing to ignore the cohabitation agreement, and they will surely argue that any concession he makes, even a concession in principle to Abu Mazen, will be concessions now made to his Hamas partner as well. And on the other side, any understanding that Abu Mazen might reach with Olmert and Rice that concedes anything to Israel is likely to be denounced by Hamas, his partner, as a betrayal of Palestinian rights. So in those circumstances, it is difficult to see how these discussions can really move forward given the political jeopardy involved.
Beyond that, (one would have thought ?) Abu Mazen does not have the capability to deliver on any commitments he might make in the peace process. Hamas is now systematically establishing a failed terror state in Gaza. In the West Bank, it is a little different. Hamas is very weak there, thanks to the systematic efforts of the Israel Defense Forces over the last four years to destroy its infrastructure of terror. But Abu Mazen will need to restructure, train, and equip security forces loyal to the presidency before he can assume responsibility there for any territory from which the Israeli Army might withdraw.
Because American influence in the Middle east has been so weakened by the debacle in Iraq, Secretary Rice is no longer able to wield it in a way that might compensate for the weakness of local partners. And without presidential engagement, it is difficult to imagine that she could overcome the formidable obstacles to real progress in any negotiation. But it is hard to believe that this president is now likely to develop, to devote in his reigning years a kind of effort involved to a peacemaking endeavor, which frankly speaking, I don't think he has ever really believed in. But having said all of that, I don't think the situation is as bleak as it appears on the surface.
And the reason for that is because there are unusual alliances, tacit alliances now emerging precisely as a result of Iran's power play in the region. The first is between Prime Minister Olmert and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah cannot accept Iranian, Shia, Persian hegemony in the region, and the only way that he can counter it, I believe, is by showing that a path of moderation and peacemaking can provide a better future for the Arab world.
And for Prime Minister Olmert, Saudi involvement in peacemaking can help to compensate for the Israeli public's disillusionment with the Palestinians as partners. King Abdullah's offer to Israel of real peace and modernization with the Arab world, contained in his and the Arab League's Peace Initiative of 2002, if lent real credibility by Saudi direct engagement with Israel, could boost Olmert's ability to sell a West Bank withdrawal to Israelis who are keen to be rid of the burden of occupation but don't see a credible Arab partner to take responsibility for it.
The second unusual emerging partnership is between Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinian leader, like his Saudi counterpart, is threatened by Iranian backing for Hamas, Iranian control over Palestine Islamic Jihad, and even renegades in Abu Mazen's own Fatah Party.
Iran is now blocking an Egyptian-brokered effort to get a prisoner swap that would release the Israeli prisoners held both by Hamas and by Hezbollah. Iran is financing Hamas's takeover of Gaza, and Hamas is now training its cadres, both in Tehran and in Gaza.
Olmert understands, therefore, that it is in Israel's interest to strengthen Mahmoud Abbas in his struggle with Iran and Hamas. That's why he handed over $100 million in Palestinian tax revenues; that's why he agreed to Egypt's transfer of weapons to Abbas's security forces, and that's why he's using the Israeli army systematically to destroy Hamas's infrastructure in the West Bank.
It is too early, Mr. Chairman, for these emerging partnerships to yield a viable peace negotiation. But it is not too early, in my view, for a newly engaged secretary of State to start to put those building blocks in place.
Sustaining a conversation with Abbas and Olmert about a political horizon is just one of those blocks.
The United States still needs to make a serious effort to rebuild the capabilities of the Palestinian president, particularly in the security realm, while I still think that Congress should go ahead with the security package that the administration is now seeking, albeit with the kinds of benchmarks and assurances and transparency about where the money will go that could give some assurance that it is not going to end up in the hands of Hamas or security forces under Hamas's control.
And the secretary of State—I agree here with David Makovsky—needs to carefully orchestrate this virtual alliance between moderate Sunni Arab leaders and Israel, so that the Arab states are more visibly and actively involved in bolstering a process they claim to care so much about.
Who knows, Mr. Chairman, from these modest beginnings, nurtured by a common Iranian threat and the hope of peace that still lies in many Israeli and Palestinian hearts, great things may eventually grow.
Thank you very much.
REP. ACKERMAN: Thank you, Ambassador.
MR. PIPES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member Pence.
I am in broad agreement with almost everything that has been said. What I would like to do is complement it by looking at what one might call the big picture.
You asked in the title of this hearing about "Next Steps in the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process." I shall argue three points: First, the peace negotiations have thus far been so counterproductive, they could better be called a war process; that their failure results from an Israeli conceptual error 15 years ago about the nature of warfare; and third, that the U.S. government should urge Jerusalem to forgo negotiations and instead return to its earlier policy of deterrence.
So first, Mr. Chairman, to review the peace process.
It is embarrassing to recall today the elation and expectations that accompanied the signing of the Oslo Accords in September 1993, when Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shook hands with Yasir Arafat. For some time after this, "The Handshake," as it was known, served as a symbol of brilliant diplomacy, whereby each side achieved what it most wanted - -- dignity and autonomy for the Palestinians; recognition and security for the Israelis.
President Clinton lauded that deal as "a great occasion of history." Yasir Arafat called it "An historic event, inaugurating a new epoch." Shimon Peres, then the foreign minister of Israel, discerned in it "the outline of peace in the Middle East."
These heady expectations were then grievously disappointed. Before Oslo, when Palestinians still lived under Israeli control, they benefited from the rule of law and a growing economy independent of international welfare. They enjoyed functioning schools and hospitals. They traveled without checkpoints and had free access to Israeli territory. They even founded universities. Terrorism was declining as acceptance of Israel increased.
However, then came Oslo, which brought Palestinians not peace but tyranny, failed institutions, poverty, corruption, a death cult, suicide factories, and Islamist radicalization.
Yasir Arafat early on promised that the West Bank and Gaza would evolve into what he called "the Singapore of the Middle East," but the reality he shaped became a nightmare of dependence, inhumanity and loathing.
As for the Israelis, Oslo brought unprecedented terrorism. If the two hands in the Rabin-Arafat handshake symbolize Oslo's early hopes, it is the two bloody hands of a young Palestinian male who had just lynched Israeli reservists in Ramallah in October 2000 that represented its dismal end.
Oslo provoked deep internal rifts and harmed Israel's standing internationally. Israelis watched helplessly as Palestinian rage spiraled upwards, spawning such moral perversions as the United Nations World Conference against Racism in Durban in 2001. That rage also reopened among Westerners the issue of Israel's continued existence, especially on the hard left. From Israel's perspective, seven years of Oslo diplomacy undid 45 years' success in warfare.
Palestinians and Israelis agree on little, but they concur that Oslo was a disaster.
Now, why was it a disaster? Where did things go so badly wrong? Why did the peace process turn into a war process? Where lay the flaws in so promising an agreement?
Of its many errors—and I think all analysts will agree there are many—the ultimate mistake lay in Yitzhak Rabin's misunderstanding of how a war ends. That's revealed in this catchphrase, which he said repeatedly: "One does not make peace with one's friend. One makes peace with one's enemy."
The Israeli prime minister implied by this that wars are concluded through a mix of goodwill, conciliation, concessions, mediation, flexibility, restraint, generosity and compromise, all topped off with signatures on official documents. In this spirit, Rabin's government initiated an array of concessions, hoping that the Palestinians would reciprocate. But they did not. Those concessions, in fact, made matters worse.
Still in a war mode, Palestinians understood the Israeli efforts to "make peace" as signals, instead, of demoralization and of weakness. The concessions reduced Palestinian awe of Israel, made it appear vulnerable, and incited irredentist dreams of its annihilation. Each Oslo-negotiated gesture by Israel further exhilarated, radicalized, and mobilized the Palestinian body politic. The quiet hope of 1993 to eliminate Israel gained traction, becoming a deafening demand by the year 2000.
Rabin in short made a shattering mistake, which his successors then repeated. One does not, in fact, make peace with one's enemy; one makes peace with one's former enemy—former enemy. Peace nearly always requires one side in a conflict to give up its goals by being defeated. Rather than vainly trying to close down a war through goodwill, the way to end a war, Mr. Chairman, is by winning it.
"War is an act of violence to compel the enemy to fulfill our will." That's what the Prussian strategist Carl von Clausewitz wrote in 1832. "War is an act of violence to compel the enemy to fulfill our will." And however much technological advancement there has been in the nearly two centuries since he wrote that, the basic insight remains valid. Victory consists of imposing one's will on the enemy of compelling him to give up his war goals. Wars usually end when one side gives up its hope of winning; when its will to fight has been crushed.
Arabs and Israelis since 1948 have pursued static and binary goals. Arabs have fought to eliminate Israel; Israelis have fought to win their neighbors' acceptance. The details have varied over the decades, with multiple ideologies, strategies, leading actors and so forth, but the goals have barely changed. The Arabs have pursued their war aims with patience, determination and purpose. In response, Israelis sustained a formidable record of strategic vision and tactical brilliance in the period 1948 to 1993.
Over time, however, as Israel developed into a vibrant, modern, democratic country, its populace grew impatient with the humiliating, slow, tedious task of convincing Arabs to accept their political existence. By now, almost no one in Israel sees victory as the goal; no major political figure on the scene today calls for victory in war.
Since 1993, in brief, Mr. Chairman, the Arabs have sought victory while Israelis have sought compromise.
It is my view that he who does not win, loses. To survive, Israelis must eventually return to the pre-1993 policy of establishing that Israel is strong, tough and permanent, the policy of deterrence: the long, boring, difficult, bitter and expensive task of convincing Palestinians and others that the Jewish state is permanent and that dreams of eliminating it are doomed.
This will not be quick or easy. Perceptions of Israel's weakness due to terrible missteps during the Oslo years and after, such as the Gaza withdrawal of 2005, have sunk into Palestinian consciousness and will presumably require decades of effort to reverse. Nor will it be pretty. Defeat in war typically entails experiencing the bitter crucible of deprivation, failure and despair.
I look at this process, Mr. Chairman, through a simple prism. Any development that encourages Palestinians to think they can eliminate Israel is negative; any development that encourages them to give up that goal is positive.
The Palestinians' defeat will be recognizable when, over a protracted period and with complete consistency, they prove that they have accepted Israel.
My third and final point: American policy. Like all outsiders to the conflict, Americans face a stark choice. Do we endorse the Palestinian goal of eliminating Israel, or do we endorse the Israeli goal of winning its neighbors' acceptance?
To state this choice is to make clear that there is no choice—the first is offensive in intent; the second defensive. No decent person can endorse the Palestinians' goal of eliminating their neighbor, and along with every president since Harry S Truman and every congressional resolution and vote since then, the 110th Congress must continue to stand with Israel in its drive to win its acceptance.
Not only is this an obvious moral choice, but it is important to add that a Palestinian defeat at Israel's hands is actually the best thing that had ever happened to them. Compelling Palestinians finally to give up on their foul, irredentist dream would liberate them to focus on their own polity, economy, society, and culture. Palestinians need to experience the certitude of defeat to become a normal people—one where parents stop celebrating their children becoming suicide terrorists; where something matters beyond the evil obsession of anti-Zionist rejectionism.
Americans especially need to understand Israel's predicament and help it win its war, for the U.S. government has, obviously, a vital role in this theater. My analysis implies a radically different approach for the Bush administration, and for this Congress.
On the negative side, it implies that Palestinians must be led to understand that benefits will flow only after they prove their acceptance of Israel. Until then, no diplomacy, no discussion of final status, no recognition as a state and certainly no financial aid or weapons.
On the positive side, the administration and Congress should work with Israel, the Arab states and others to induce the Palestinians to accept Israel's existence by convincing them the gig is up, that they have lost.
Diplomacy aiming to shut down the Arab-Israeli conflict is premature until Palestinians give up their hideous anti-Zionist obsession. When that moment arrives, negotiations can re-open with the issues of the 1990s—borders, resources, armaments, sanctities, residential rights—taken up anew. But that moment is years or decades away. In the meantime, a war needs to be won.
REP. ACKERMAN: Wow. I guess we picked the right panel.
REP. BERMAN: Please excuse the interruption, but did I hear Dr. Pipes say that he agrees with almost everything that the previous two witnesses said?
REP. ACKERMAN: Yes, we heard that, but we didn't hear whether the two previous witnesses agreed with Dr. Pipes. (Laughter.)
Well, let me say at the outset, the chair anticipates a second round of questions, having not begun the first round yet. I thank the three distinguished witnesses for their powerful testimony. Let's see if we can sort some of this out.
It occurred to me, listening both to myself and my colleagues, as well as the panel, that it was hard to pick out a positive sentence or word with regard to the Palestinians in general. Negative comments were addressed to the Palestinian leadership or a generic—generically, the Palestinians.
Do the Palestinians have legitimate rights and concerns, and in the end, should they get their own state?
Let me start with Mr. Makovsky.
MR. MAKOVSKY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Peel Commission. The Royal Peel Commission was trying to decide what to do with the land of Palestine and how you could really reconcile the aims of these two different peoples. And I think that their conclusion is the only conclusion, frankly, and that is there has to be a partition.
One can argue, you know, with the success of Oslo, certainly, but I think the concept of partition is the core. And, you know, there is just too much history and too little geography, and basically, they're going to have to split that land.
And therefore I argue that both sides deserve what I would call a moral legitimacy; that they both have come home—you know, the Jews to Israel, or Palestinians to Palestine—and they both have legitimate rights.
I think on the positive side of the ledger, there is some very impressive people at the top of the PA. I think of Finance Minister Salam Fayyad, who spent 20 years at the International Monetary Fund, and he's a world-class economist. I think they have some very, you know, credible, talented people, but I just fear, as I tried to say in my remarks, that the Mecca agreement, unfortunately, instead of bringing the best talent forward in the new hope for reconciliation and partition, I feel greatly complicates the matter right now.
REP. ACKERMAN: Thank you.
MR. INDYK: Yes, the Palestinians have legitimate rights as a people.
I remember the formula adopted by Moshe Dayan, former defense minister and foreign minister of Israel, when he said, "The Palestinians should have the right to determine their own future, but they should be denied the right to determine Israel's future." And I think that is the heart of the matter here.
President Bush has articulated what President Clinton before him developed, the notion of two states for two people, which David was referring to when he talked about the only solution being to divide the land between these two people, because it has been, from its inception, a contest between two national rights and claims.
But the heart of the matter is that the Palestinians must come to accept that they will have their state and their right to self- determination if they are prepared, in return, to live alongside the Jewish state of Israel in peace. And that's what the peace processes in their various forms have been trying to address: trying to find a way, on the one hand, to get the Palestinians to the point where they would accept this compromise deal.
And one has to say, Mr. Chairman, that the Israelis have tried looking for other solutions but they, too, have come back to this basic formula. And it wasn't just the Labor Party or the -- (inaudible). It has indeed become the policy of the right-wing party of Likud as well that the Palestinians should have a state.
That policy was introduced by none other than Ariel Sharon who, after he tried all the other alternatives, including—one might say to Daniel—including trying to achieve victory through war. But in the end, every Israeli leader, of the right or the left, has eventually come around, including Menachem Begin, for that matter, to accepting that the Palestinians do have legitimate rights. The challenge is to find a way to give expression to that in concrete terms that does not threaten Israel's existence and future.
REP. ACKERMAN: Dr. Pipes, knowing that you agree with the other two?
MR. PIPES: Again, we do agree. Martin just paraphrased Moshe Dayan that the Palestinians can't determine Israel's right, and he concurs with it, and I concur with it. Where we differ is on the tactics to get there. And these are major differences, but our goal is the same: The Palestinians must accept Israel. Everyone who's spoken so far concurs with that. Now the question is: How do we get there?
Martin said that the war hasn't worked, and I said the peace process hasn't worked. Take your pick which one hasn't worked. (Laughs.) Nobody can claim that a great deal has worked here.
I, too, concur with partition is ultimately the way forward. My major difference from the other panelists is I that believe there should be no—absolutely no—discussion of final status before the Palestinians have accepted Israel. No rewarding of their irredentist ambitions; no discussions with them while they still have this, while they are still engaged in murder, while they are still attacking their neighbor. While their children are still being taught in schoolbooks and the television and the wall posters and the mass sermons and the media and the politicians speeches all agree that there can be no Israel. So long as that's the case, there can be no discussion of final status.
But in principle, yes; partition is fine.
REP. ACKERMAN: In your statement you state that division pretty clearly, saying that diplomacy, final status negotiations, recognition, economic and security assistance should wait until the Palestinians, quote, "prove their acceptance of Israel."
I guess I come back to two questions.
The last one was the first question that I asked, and that was, at that time, should they be getting a state? But the first question I have to ask is: How do they prove their acceptance? What, to you, would constitute proof of their acceptance? Do they sign public oaths or make public statements? Do they have to give to the UJA?
MR. PIPES: No, they do not have to become lovers of Zion, but they do have to permanently accept it. They must overhaul their education system to take out the demonization of Jews in Israel. They should tell the truth about Jewish ties to Jerusalem, stop inculcating hatred of Jews, and accept normal commercial, cultural and human relations with Israelis.
They can have their differences with Israel; they can disagree with its policies and dislike various aspects of it, but they must not engage in violence against it. And they must not engage in violence in a systematic and a consistent way over a protracted period. One has to look beyond violence to a shift in society—the sort of things that were expected in 1993, with that signing on the White House lawn: that this was a new dawn. And that the hatred that one heard before would be gone. But, in fact, there is more hatred since 1993 than before 1993.
REP. ACKERMAN: Mr. Ambassador?
MR. INDYK: Could I?
REP. ACKERMAN: I think we've provoked something here.
MR. INDYK: Could I, Mr. Chairman, just very quickly?
REP. ACKERMAN: Ambassador Indyk.
MR. INDYK: If we accepted Daniel's requirements, then I think a fair case could be made that Abu Mazen, the Palestinian president—who's the elected Palestinian president—has met all of those requirements, including removing, once he became president, ending the incitement of Israel in the Palestinian media and beginning the process of dealing with the demonization of Israel in Palestinian curricula.
He has led the effort to bring the Palestinians around to acceptance of Israel; he has a clear history of having done that over a period of the last 25 years; he has not played a double game like Yasir Arafat did. And so that's why I think that, as I said, the Israelis are prepared to deal with Abu Mazen, prepared to accept that he does accept Israel's right to exist, not just its existence.
The problem is he doesn't have the capabilities to enforce his will. He is, as we all agree, I think, weak, and the challenge, therefore, is to see whether it is possible to ensure that he does get the capability so that his way can prevail.
REP. ACKERMAN: I've run the clock on myself, but David, quickly?
MR. MAKOVSKY: Mr. Chairman, I—in my remarks I tried to make clear—and this is where I guess I differ from Daniel—I don't see by putting forward the horizon when you make the trade-offs on the final deal, it is not the same thing as implementing the final deal. That's why I think it was important that -- (inaudible) -- and Rice have both talked about the road map would remain, and then the first stage of the road map has to deal with the incitement issues, dismantle the militias.
I think if you at least demonstrate to people here's the light at the end of the tunnel, they might take the journey. And I think Israel wants to know this, too, and not engage in salami tactics, you know, making these concessions without any sort of context.
At the same time, I guess where Daniel and I would differ is I think the time is not necessarily a neutral variable. I see the Islamist wave in the Middle East; I see it with great alarm. And I think its necessary to say that if you just put this issue in the freezer for 20 years that everyone is better off—I mean that's—you know, that's not the metaphor that I think Daniel meant when he said winning a war—but that I think that that ignores, in my view, the broader context.
So I think the answer is not to surrender to pressure. I think the idea is to -- (inaudible) -- here's the vision; if you perform on security—which I think is crucial—and you deal with the first phase of the road map, then you'll end up here, that it is not a dead end.
REP. ACKERMAN: Thank you.
REP. MIKE PENCE (R-IN): Thank you, Chairman.
And I would associate myself with your enthusiastic reaction to the candor and the quality of the testimony that was presented.
I'd like to provoke a couple of quick questions, and then yield to my colleagues.
Mr. Makovsky, I believe you were just -- (inaudible) -- described the recent Mecca agreement as a victory for Hamas. In my opening remarks, I reflected, the ambassador referenced this, that Hamas now has nine Cabinet ministries. And yet I hear a kind of consistent theme from several on the panel of continuing to engage with a government with this new political horizon vision where Hamas has had a victory, has prevailed.
And, as I said in my opening remarks, I'm just a little surprised that the minority witness—who reflects more of my sentiment in this regard, and I expect may actually reflect the heart of most of the people on this panel, about a deep suspicion about the intentions of an organization whose -- (inaudible) -- that will not live up to those three basic criteria.
I'd like you to respond as quickly as you can to if it is a victory—the Mecca agreement is a victory for Hamas. How do we even deal with this unity government?
MR. MAKOVSKY: Look I, you know, as I tried to say in my own remarks, yes, I see it as a victory; therefore I don't think the criteria of the Quartet should be changed.
I think there should be a review now of the $86 million and maybe even of General Dayton's role there, because the question is, where's his counterpart?
You know, if the interior minister is going to direct all the security services, that's not a small matter, even if he was the only Hamas member in the whole government. So therefore I think we've got to know what the setup is.
I believe, though, with due respect, that it would be a mistake to cut off communication with Mahmoud Abbas. He was elected separately—a 62 percent margin of victory—consistently been for a two-state solution, and I echo what my colleagues have said on—what Martin has said on this. He -- (inaudible) -- death threats because he's said publicly that violence was wrong. He said it is immoral. He said at the Palestinian National Council meeting in May 2003.
I think there needs to be a channel of communication and to see what could come from it. But in terms of making it business as usual and engaging with Hamas ministers or even, you know, other ministers of that government, we can't put our head in the sand. We just had a major setback here, and I think that doing somehow regular business with the PA in lifting the requirements, in my view—of the Quartet—would be a horrible mistake.
REP. PENCE: Thank you for that.
I want to get to the ambassador for a second.
Mr. Ambassador, you made—characteristic of your reputation for candor and intellectual -- (inaudible) -- you made good, direct comments about this administration with your words on an accord "weakened by the debacle in Iraq—Secretary of State Rice is no longer able to wield it in a way that might compensate for the weakness of the local partners," she said, and "without presidential engagement, it is difficult to imagine the secretary could overcome the formidable obstacles to real progress." And then—so this presidency, which has, quote, "never believed in" the peacemaking endeavor—I would respectfully take exception to that.
I think the president's taken a very hard line. I think hard lines can be taken in a negotiation, and I believe that the president's taken a hard line on the side of Israel in the past six years, and I commend him for that.
I guess I would just ask rhetorically—and then I want to get specifically to your real question, and I'll close my (element ?) of the panel, and yield to my colleagues.
I'd just ask rhetorically that the massive presidential engagement that, by your definition, was present in the Clinton administration and faltered, in effect, in the last six months of the Clinton administration, doesn't seem to argue for the American presidency being a determinative factor in achieving a Middle East settlement.
And that said, let me ask you very sincerely and respectfully: On the question of funding, it did seem to me there was some agreement about the ominous nature of this moment in which the chairman's called this hearing. And I was quite struck when you said—I'm quoting again now—"The United States will have to make a serious effort to rebuild the capabilities of the Palestinian presidency," and then, quote, "Congress needs to go ahead with the security package the administration is seeking."
Now, you did add—beyond your written testimony, you referred to benchmarks, transparency, assurances.
I'd like to ask you to expand on how as legislators we could—seeing the victory for Hamas, and knowing how dangerous—how we could, in good conscience, go forward with what President Bush has requested in funding. Maybe you can unpack that transparency and what those benchmarks might be.
MR. INDYK: If I might just comment quickly on your commentary on my remarks, I would say yes, indeed, the president has been a strong supporter of Israel. But let's also recall that he's been a very strong supporter of elections as a way of achieving democratization. And it was, indeed, our president's insistence on elections that resulted in Hamas being elected and in control of the Palestinian Authority.
And we cannot ignore that when we try to find a way out of this very complicated situation. Hamas was elected too, in a free election. And so, you know, if we're to be true to our values, we have to recognize that we've got a problem here. They have legitimacy, according to the election process that our president insisted upon, on the grounds that they would then become accountable to the people and that would not elect them. So there is enough blame to go around.
There is no doubt that President Clinton and his advisers, me amongst them, made plenty of mistakes too. But the question, really, as we go forward is, how do we get out of it? It is a mistake to regard everything that Clinton did as stupid and feckless, and that was the default position. And for six years—it took six years to come around to the idea that the secretary of State is now proposing the very thing that President Clinton was doing. There must have been some logic to what he was doing. So, that's just my first point.
In terms of how you unpack it, it is now very complicated. Abu Mazen is not a strong man, and he's not willing to confront Hamas if it means a civil war amongst the Palestinians. And I think the reason that he did this deal with Hamas was to avoid the civil war that was developing in Gaza.
That said, if there is to be a capable and responsible partner to Israel in any way that can settle this conflict, the one hope there on the Palestinian side is Abu Mazen. He has his own status. He is not—he is president of the Palestinian Authority, but he is not in that Cabinet government. He has his own status as the presidency. He has his own powers as the president, and he has responsibility for the security services. Ultimately, they are responsible to him.
The interior minister will not be a Hamas minister. The interior minister also has control over some of the security services. And we'll have to see who that interior minister turns out to be and whether he is—he dances to Hamas's tune or is loyal to the president.
But the package that was proposed is a package designed to strengthen those security services under the direct control of the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and to give him a capability that would be independent of Hamas and therefore strengthen him against Hamas.
Hamas's military capabilities—let's be quite clear about this—are being supported, supplied, provided by Iran and its proxy.
So that's what we're facing here. It is not a clear-cut situation where we can simply decide that we're going to, you know, stand back from this, because the consequences of that is, essentially, you cede your territory to Iran.
So therefore the question is: Does the Congress have a way of getting assurances that the money that it puts up is going to flow to the right people and be used in the right way? And I think you need to have General Dayton in here, and you need to get answers to those questions. How are you going to ensure a transparent process in which Congress can follow where the money is going? How are you going to ensure that the commanders in charge of the training are loyal to Abu Mazen and committed to peace with Israel? How are you going to ensure that the training is done effectively and it is only going to be used for the purposes of strengthening a partner in the peace process? Those are questions that don't have easy answers.
From my own experience in the Clinton administration, I don't think it is—I'm quite sure it is not a secret—the Central Intelligence Agency played a critical role in training Arafat's security forces, and in the end, those trained people ended up using their guns against Israel. That clearly is not acceptable. It cannot be acceptable.
But, having said that, we're going to look and see whether there is a way to do it, because I think the logic that if we don't strengthen Abu Mazen, we end up with Hamas winning the game and its Iranian backer being the benefit of this, is a worse outcome than trying to grapple with the problems of meeting the requirements of strengthening Abu Mazen.
REP. PENCE: All right.
Thank you, Chairman. I yield.
REP. ACKERMAN: Mr. Berman?
REP. HOWARD BERMAN (D-CA): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Just to clarify, Dr. Pipes, in your really compelling presentation, by your indication that partition is an acceptable outcome—I assume, but just want to make sure I'm right—that for you the certitude of defeat is defeat of the notion that you can eliminate a Zionist entity called Israel, not that you've abandoned your aspirations for a homeland, a viable nation-state. Is that correct?
MR. PIPES: That is correct, crushing the will to fight, to eliminate Israel.
REP. BERMAN: We meet with a lot of Palestinians, and Ambassador Indyk actually made, I think, a pretty good case that at least some of those Palestinians -- (inaudible) -- chairman of the Palestinian Authority, or president—the existing president of the Palestinian Authority is one of them who seem to have accepted the -- (inaudible) -- certitude of defeat in that goal.
And in other words, when it comes up to us, there is a—it is a brave picture. A lot of Palestinians chose to accept it and are prepared to live at peace and do whatever—and it doesn't seem like their capabilities (allow it ?) to ensure Israel's security. And large numbers of others haven't. So that makes it really more complicated—the picture, the unambiguous picture that you drew.
MR. PIPES: I skipped over the part where I said that the 20 percent of Palestinians accept Israel. And perhaps Mahmoud Abbas is one of them, perhaps not. I'm less convinced, but I certainly agree that there are Palestinians who do, and I would say the goal is to change that 20 percent to 60 or 70 percent.
REP. BERMAN: Okay. All right. Okay, but—I understand you in that context.
But now, let's go to this issue of the horizon. In hearing the secretary talk about it, whether it is here—there was a certain, quote, "second life" aspect to all of this, that in the -- (inaudible) -- world, with people who do not have the power to accomplish much—and by this, I mean the head of the Palestinian Authority—we will have a discussion of a political horizon and what people who do not have the power to implement the concessions they would see need to be made—things like the right of return, or the acceptance or Israel—that they would make certain concessions, and Israel's leadership will outline the kinds of concessions they're willing to make and talk about this—that that couldn't happen before, in the context of an Israeli leadership that would be willing to articulate very clearly a horizon that even brought us back to the 2000 parameters, seemed complicated to me. (Inaudible) -- this Mecca agreement, it seems almost impossible.
The Israelis are going to start publicly indicating that concessions are being made (to make ?) about things like Jerusalem and land swaps. When the Palestinians the time when the prime minister—when the few conditions haven't been met—how is that really going to happen at this next meeting?
In an earlier conversation, Ambassador Indyk indicated he thought a process under way that could describe, that could lead to that possibility maybe is realistic, but certainly not an articulation of the, quote, "horizon" at this next meeting between the secretary—this trilateral meeting that's supposed to take place.
And so we come to the point here now where we don't know if this Mecca agreement is going to hold. We know it is going to be a few weeks before it is implemented, even if it does hold. We don't know who the interior minister is. We don't know whether Hamas forces are truly going to integrate into the Palestinian forces; one could be quite skeptical about the possibility of that. We don't know who's really going to control it.
How can we, at this point—how can the Congress (release whatever instruments ?) that it has to block the aid to the Palestinian security forces, until those kinds of issues are resolved, much as David suggested?
And do you—do any of you see a situation where somehow this unity government -- (inaudible) -- created, can agree to the three conditions? And don't you think it is -- (inaudible) --to stick with those three conditions and not find ways that "respect" becomes the word instead of "adhere," and that (we meet ?) those conditions. Do you see a way in which a unity agreement—a unity government can accept it, even though Hamas hasn't? And does that have meaning?
And do you think the Europeans, particularly, will stick? They've stuck for two days, which is pretty impressive, but do you think over the long term they will stick with adherence to those three conditions, by either the Hamas or by the unity government? And that's a whole series of questions.
MR. MAKOVSKY: You raise some very important questions. Obviously, on the last point about the Europeans, I actually think here the two issues are implicitly—in their minds, at least the ones that I've met—are somewhat linked. In other words, they'll probably say: "Thank God for Condoleezza Rice; she's pursuing this political horizon; we've stuck with—there is the transatlantic -- (inaudible) -- for a year on the three conditions. No one would have believed that we and Europe would have held fast with the Bush administration over the last year. We're willing to give it another—whatever it is. We want to see if she gives it her best effort on this."
So I don't think they're going to break from the United States. If anything, I think the Quartet statement on Friday was actually a signal that right now they wouldn't.
The question is, to say that they'd never break (with ?) the U.S. I think is a bit optimistic. I think that right now, they want to say that they're behind Condoleezza Rice. So they don't want to do anything that will make her talks in Jerusalem with Olmert and Abbas even harder.
I come back in the broad picture to my recommendation on Saudi Arabia. I think while we have to kind of admit—and it is not always easy to say this—but that the center of gravity in the Middle East has changed; that it used to be we thought of Egyptians as the center of the Arab world. The center of the Arab League is in Cairo. But look at these things that have happened. This Mecca agreement was in Saudi Arabia.
REP. BERMAN: Egyptians are going to be very unhappy—
MR. MAKOVSKY: I know. I know that, and I just met with the foreign minister, so he will not be too pleased with me.
But, you know, and you have the situation where -- (name inaudible) -- from Iran—when he went to convey messages, it is via the Saudis. The Lebanese issue—they're trying to get the Saudis to negotiate as well.
Saudi Arabia has a lot of resources—
REP. BERMAN: Then why didn't the Saudis do something in terms of this Mecca agreement to get a—
MR. MAKOVSKY: That's my point, is that right now I think that it is too soon to say that they're, you know, devoted to peacemaking—that's what Martin and I would probably prefer—because I think that there is some real problems with the Saudi initiative. I don't know if we have time now to get into that. I've put it in my full testimony that it needs substantial modification.
And they could be really—because they see the new regional alignment against Iran, they might really be devoted to peacemaking, or the rest of my interpretation is it is all about sectarianism and keeping the Shi'ites at bay.
And I think unless there is a strong summit between the United States and Saudi Arabia about what they are about, then this is one of the biggest uncertainties in the mix.
You've very well, I think, articulated a lot of uncertainties in the mix. It was a good idea to bring General Dayton here to show how he would deal with this.
I think there is too many uncertainties right now, but I think the biggest uncertainty, from my perspective, is, where are the Saudis? And unless we have some sort of deeper understanding with them, I don't think Rice is going to get far at all.
MR. INDYK: Let me try a couple of your other questions, because I agree with almost everything David said, and so I won't repeat that. But it is going to be very difficult for this meeting between the secretary, Olmert and Abu Mazen to move forward, precisely for the reasons you suggest.
I think the first thing Olmert is going to want to know is if he's talking about the future, is he talking about the future with Abu Mazen or is he talking about the future with Hamas? And he needs to know that because it he doesn't have a good answer to that, he's got a problem domestically, and he's not in a strong position to be able to withstand the kind of heat that would come from this ambivalence, or ambiguity, I should say, about the situation.
So, again, we will have to see. I wouldn't expect anything but modalities—agreement on modalities for conducting this discussion—to be what emerges from this first round.
Then, that relates directly to the second question: whether the national unity government will last. I think it is probably better to think about this as a temporary truce in an ongoing conflict between Hamas and Fatah.
Clearly, Hamas's objectives, ideology, have not changed. But I don't think Fatah's have either. And I saw that Abu Mazen said today that he wanted Mohammed Dahlan to be deputy prime minister to Hamas's Ismail Haniya as prime minister. Well—
REP. BERMAN: (Off mike.)
MR. INDYK: (Laughs.) That's not going to work. That—so, Dahlan, who's the sworn enemy of Hamas, to be the deputy prime minister is, I think—tells you a lot about the likely longevity of this particular government.
And that's where I come back to why Congress needs to keep its eye on what made since before this national unity government was formed, and what I think still makes sense, which is to build the powers of the Palestinian president, because I think this national unity government is likely to fall apart sooner rather than later.
And if that is in fact the case, then talks is not negotiations; they're more like pre- negotiations—they're—discussions, informal, between Abu Mazen and Ehud Olmert can be useful in the event that the national unity government falls apart again and either we go to elections—in the agreement itself, they talk about the potential for new elections in 2008 -- it will be important in those circumstances, if there are early elections, that there be some political horizon that this will give Abu Mazen the ability to say, "Vote for me because I have a better future for you in mind that comes from making peace rather than making war on Israel."
MR. PIPES: On receipt of a shipment of arms from Egypt some days ago, Mahmoud Abbas promised the Palestinians that these would be used only against Israel. I think it is fair to call Mahmoud Abbas the good terrorist and Hamas the bad terrorist, or PLO the good terrorist and Hamas the bad terrorist.
I don't see much virtue in backing the good terrorist against the bad terrorist. I have no wish to see Iran get stronger but also no reason to want to see the Saudi-backed terrorist group get stronger. And there are some virtues in having a terrorist group that speaks its mind openly.
In my understanding, the difference between the PLO and Hamas is a difference of tactics, philosophy, and personnel. They're different in approach, they're different in personnel, and they're different in what they do. But their goal is all the same. They're very clearly the same: to eliminate Israel.
REP. BERMAN: (Inaudible) -- the 20 percent—
MR. PIPES: Yeah, the 20 percent is in there, but as we both agreed before, it is not very powerful.
Now, Martin said earlier that Mahmoud Abbas is someone who accepts Israel. I would challenge Martin to present to me a single map in the entirety of the West Bank and Gaza that shows an Israel alongside a Palestine. Every single map I've ever seen, in any context whatsoever, shows a Palestine instead of an Israel. There is no presence—that is a visual symbolic way of saying that there is no presence to the argument that says, "Let us accept Israel."
Some people, that 20 percent—perhaps Abbas in his heart is one of them—do accept Israel but they are irrelevant to the process. What dominates is an argument between the PLO and Hamas: What is the better method to eliminate Israel? Is it by working with Israel and getting the benefits that working with Israel brings, including land and money and arms? Or is it retaining the purity of position, as Hamas does, and making it clear to the world where you stand?
This argument has been going on between these two groups for 20 years. Sometimes they work together and sometimes they fight. At the moment, they're maybe going to work together, they've just been fighting. It is a process by which one's trying to dominate the movement to eliminate Israel, but in the end, I don't see that from an American perspective one is better than the other.
REP. ACKERMAN: (Inaudible) -- just wanted to observe, if one is the bad terrorist and one is the good terrorist, whether we have the option of entering an entry into the race a very, very good terrorist, I don't know that that option exists. There was a -- (inaudible) -- in Louisiana where there was a Nazi running against a crook and people had bumper stickers that said, "I'm with the crook." You know, if it is a two-horse race and you want to play, you've got to put your two dollars down somewhere.
REP. JIM COSTA (D-CA): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Ambassador Indyk -- (inaudible) -- in the opening statement talked about the groundwork that needed to be followed through at this current point in time. You talked about some benchmarks, but you didn't lay out any timelines. And I guess, given the current negotiations that are taking place with the unity government, the most recent fighting that's been taking place, and your critique of the current administration's efforts. And I leave you that possibility now as an opportunity to get on a path that you engaged in previously in the Clinton administration.
How would you --(inaudible) -- one, the benchmarks that you outlined following a timeline over the course of the next year or two years, and juxtapose that with currently what's going on elsewhere in the Middle East? Because I think a lot of things are going to take place here, not only in Iraq but with Iran and the hegemony that you spoke of in your comments.
And also, I'd like to get a sense from you as to where you think Congress's best efforts could be applied, if we can achieve some consensus here through this subcommittee and through the Foreign Relations (sic/Foreign Affairs) Committee.
MR. INDYK: Thank you, Mr. Costa.
I was referring, when I talked about benchmarks, to the specific issue of if Congress were to go ahead and provide the $86 million in security assistance to the Palestinian president, in which case the benchmarks—I'm not sure whether you were in the room when I spoke with Mr. Pence—that the benchmarks relate to the issue of transparency, where the money is actually going—
REP. COSTA: I heard you—
MR. INDYK: Okay, so I won't repeat myself on that.
I think a timeline is something that Israel's thinking about in terms of the secretary of State's engagement, because my argument is that it is going to take some time, and that she is going to need an understanding—not just in the Congress, but certainly in the media, who will love to write the story of her failure every time she goes up there and doesn't produce some progress—that this is a process that really will run through this administration and may not have over two years, over the next two years, a lot to show for it.
But the effort itself is definitely worthwhile. And notwithstanding my criticism of what I consider a purposeful disengagement from the process for six years by this administration, the fact that the secretary of State is now willing to risk her own reputation and prestige to try to take advantage of an opportunity that may well be there but is hard to see takes courage, and she deserves credit for that. And she deserves support. But the process itself, and it is a process, is going to start with a very small step—a big idea, but a small step; discussions, not negotiations—that will nevertheless start to deal with what the shape of the final settlement will look like.
And that may yield some fruit over time, simply because anybody, essentially, knows where this process is going, at least those who want to get to a two-state solution. There is no mystery about it.
The question is, how do we get from here to there when we've got now Hamas, which has a very different idea of the solution—it is a one-state solution, not a two-state solution.
So the essence of the timeline is as follows, I would say.
The first six months is going to be just laying the groundwork, because I do not believe that Prime Minister Olmert is going to be able to engage on these politically fraught issues before he stabilizes his government and gets a new defense minister. I also think those six months will be a time of testing this national unity government on the Palestinian side, and we will have a much better idea after six months of who's calling the shots, whether it is Hamas or Abu Mazen who is actually able to engage in this with some authority and legitimacy.
Then, I think the next six months will be a time in which it may become possible to start to give some greater refinement to the principles that would have to be involved in the political horizon. And beyond that, it is the Middle East and I wouldn't dare to suggest, but it is only going to produce some results if the secretary remains engaged in the process from now until the end of the administration. And the advantage of that, in terms of your question about the larger context here, is that—not that somehow engagement here is going to solve the problems in Iraq. I think it is a mindless formula that says: this is the core problem; we solve this problem, we solve all the other problems. It is not likely to make any difference in Iraq itself. But it will make a difference in the broader region, in the broader Islamic world.
That the United States is engaged in a serious effort to try to move this process forward towards a resolution is something that will help diffuse some of the anger out there and make it—it is not going to be a great victory in the war against terrorism, but it will make it easier for leaders in the region to work with us and easier for us to demand that they do so because we are engaged on an issue that they say is a hot-button one for them and their people.
REP. COSTA: Thank you. I'll try to pull in your question then.
Dr. Pipes said you ought to be interested in the, I think, analysis, of describing the situation as you see it between the good terrorists and the bad terrorists. I'm wondering, is there a possibility, and we've all heard some discussions about this, of seeing the world through a different paradigm in terms of the groups that supposedly represent the Palestinians?
Is—when you look at the -- (inaudible) -- that exists in the Arab—in some parts of the Arab world and you look at the political rhetoric oftentimes used when it comes to the Palestinians, it just seems to me that if you could somehow think out of the box, vis-à-vis a Marshall Plan, that we'd really were to reach out and help the people who really are suffering, who are sometimes, it seems from a distance, pawns in this political gamesmanship that is taking place.
What application, do you think—in looking through this differently I'm reminded of the saying we've all heard, continuing to do things the same way you've always done them but expect different results. It is not only frustrating but it can be maddening.
MR. PIPES: Well, thank you for the thoughtful question. I would tend to be doubtful that it would work, however, for two reasons.
First, I think that over the decades, the grass-roots has become more radicalized than the elite. It used to be understood that it was the kings, presidents and emirs who were exploiting the Arab masses, hanging this red meat of Zionism in front of them and saying "Go," so that people did not focus on their own conditions.
If that was true in the ‘50s and ‘60s, I don't think it applies today. Today, in case after case, one finds that it is the leaders who are willing to make concessions more than the body politic. And one can go through this in an Egyptian case, a Jordanian case, and even a Palestinian case. In September 1993, when Yasir Arafat was willing to make concessions to Israel, and he got a very negative reaction from the Palestinians. So that'd be one point.
The second point is that this ultimately does not appear to be an issue that boils down to economics, to poverty, to despair, and to unemployment. It has far more to do with love and hate, with dreams and fears, and hopes and desires. It is about ideas; it is about nationalism; it is about control of territory.
And what one finds over the years is that Palestinians and, for that matter, Israelis are willing to give up—particularly it is true with Palestinians—are willing to give up material benefit in order to pursue this war. Were it possible to wean them from war through economics, that would have happened in 1990s. After all, that was Shimon Peres's insight, to say that "We together, Arabs and Israelis, can form a new economic order. We can have prosperity and we can leave these old antagonisms." But in fact, that's not what happened.
So while I commend you for out-of-the-box thinking, I must respectfully say I think it won't work.
REP. ACKERMAN: Mr. Carnahan.
REP. RUSS CARNAHAN (D-MO): Thank you, Mr. Chairman and panel. I apologize for coming in late. I know I've missed much of the discussion, but I did want to ask questions in a particular area with regard to your thoughts regarding the impact of progress with—between the Israelis and the Palestinians with regard to the situation in Iraq. And again, I apologize if I've been—if I may have missed some of this, but I would appreciate your thoughts.
MR. MAKOVSKY: Congressman Carnahan, I—good to see you. Wish for a successful season for our fellow joint project of the St. Louis Cardinals.
REP. CARNAHAN: Yes, indeed.
MR. MAKOVSKY: But I think the Cardinals will have a better record this year than the Palestinian government because I think the complications of the Mecca agreement. I think it is important that, you know—you want a solution (among ?) Israelis and Palestinians, because you want to give dignity to both peoples.
And I feel the Mecca agreement unfortunately complicates that. I don't believe somebody in the Anbar province is going to turn on Al- Jazeera and say, "Oh, they're making progress on the road map, so we don't shoot Americans today." I don't see a linkage between the two.
I realize, though, among many Arabs and Muslims this issue is important, and I think it could have a resonance on a wider world in the Middle East and beyond it. I think in terms of the outcome in Iraq, I never believed the road to Baghdad—the road to Jerusalem goes through Baghdad or the road to Jerusalem goes through Baghdad.
So I'm not a fan of these linkages, and I don't believe in it, but I do think there'd definitely be a big dividend if—you know, in the region and beyond in terms of the people—if there was some sort of a solution—and most importantly, to the people themselves.
Both sides in this conflict, the Israelis and the Palestinians, have suffered a lot. And you want a solution that gives dignity to both. I feel, unfortunately, we've taken a big, giant step backwards with this Mecca accord.
REP. CARNAHAN: Thank you.
Could I ask the other panelists to comment? Anybody else?
MR. INDYK: I do not believe that if we were able to make progress on the Israeli-Palestinian front that it would make any significant difference to the problems that we're facing in Iraq today. I just don't—I think things are far gone there, and I don't see how one could influence the other. Where I think David is right is that the Palestinian issue is a hot-button issue for many people in the region and beyond in the Muslim world.
And in terms of getting the support, not just of the people but of their leaders, who are authoritarian to a man, but precisely because they're not elected, they fear their publics, and they fear public opinion. And the perception that the United States does not care about this issue—the Palestinian issue—is something that has made the leaders reluctant to identify with us and work with us, or if they do it, they'll do it in a very quiet way because of other threats they face, in particular from Iraq.
So I think it does have a value in the border region in terms of helping our diplomacy and efforts across the region, but in Iraq itself, I don't think it is going to make any difference.
REP. CARNAHAN: Thank you.
MR. PIPES: I'm in broad agreement.
REP. CARNAHAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. ACKERMAN: Thank you very much, Mr. Carnahan.
I want to take that question, if I might, and just reverse it—play it back at a different speed too.
In the Middle East, between the Israelis and the Palestinians, there seems to be a lack of strength in the leadership on both sides for very different reasons. The hope is that the strength of the United States in situations such as this will be able to bring parties together.
My question would be, has our involvement in Iraq weakened our hand and the perception of our strength to the extent that it makes us less effective as a convener—we're the party that's going to bang the heads together, or however you would describe this tripartite agreement the secretary -- (inaudible) -- to try to have next week.
MR. MAKOVSKY: Let me say I just back from there. I spoke to Israelis and Palestinians, and I was struck how the word "Iraq" hardly ever came up in any of my discussions. It was like a parallel universe to what we're dealing with here.
The only time it would come up, I felt, was with the Israelis, but in a different context—that the issue of Iran is looming. As you know, this is a president of Iran that says he wants to wipe Israel off the map. The supreme leader calls Israel a cancer that should be cut out. So it is not just Ahmadinejad.
And the only time I would hear Iraq come up in conversations would be the United States would be so preoccupied with the Iraqi issue. And some wonder if there is a neo-isolationist mood in the United States, which I don't think is accurate—would be so—you know—would so envelop the United States that the U.S. would be hamstrung with the offended Iran. And I found some of the Arab leaders I talked to also asked me that question.
I found that is the only context that Iran could come up—in the Iranian context. I never heard it come up in the Palestinian context. And I was struck in all my meetings with Palestinians, they never raised it either. So it was a little bit of a parallel universe for me being over there, given how much this issue is critical and that we have so many soldiers over there right now.
MR. INDYK: I think, Mr. Chairman, that the prime example of our reduced influence was precisely the way in which the Saudis went off against our will and against our plan and strategy and to be (stealing ?) Mecca. That was not what the secretary of State had in mind at all.
(Word inaudible) -- and I think the Israelis as well had thought they had an understanding with the Saudis and the Egyptians and Abu Mazen that the whole effort, of which the "political horizon" was one and the security package was another, was designed to isolate Hamas and effectively to take it out of the government and have new elections that would produce a different complexion for the Palestinian Authority.
And neither Abu Mazen nor the Egyptians nor the Saudis went along with the script. They did an old switcheroo. And I believe that they did it precisely because—not that they—it is not we didn't have a big enough stick to beat them with. It is that they were looking out for their own interests that we could not affect.
I don't think it is so much that the Saudis have decided to play a sectarian game. It is that the Saudis now see that the sectarian genie is out of the bottle, and they do not want Hamas, which is a Sunni extremist organization, to be on the Iranian side of that fault line. They have their own Sunni extremists that they've got to deal with, so do the Egyptians. And so they chose to co-opt—tried to corrupt them rather than to confront them.
And Abu Mazen, when he saw that the Saudis were doing this, and it began—I don't know how close you follow it, but it began when King Abdullah sent his own private aircraft to pick up the Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniya, and take him to Mecca so he could perform the hajj and have a private audience with King Abdullah.
And after that, the Egyptians started treating Ismail Haniya like royalty, and Abu Mazen said, "Well, hey, you know, if the Saudis and Egyptians are going to play this game, why the hell should I be the guy out on the limb confronting them? I'm going off to Damascus to show them and to see whether Damascus will help me make a deal with Hamas." And from there, it was a short step to Mecca.
And we were left, essentially, on the sidelines. If we had been able to produce an effective way forward and they had seen that we were still the dominant player in the region, they would have been, I think, more willing to go with us and more fearful of our reaction if they didn't.
REP. ACKERMAN: In your view, did the administration see this? Or did they just have no inclination for leaning on the Saudis?
MR. INDYK: I can't really speak to that—
REP. ACKERMAN: If the center of gravity is shifting, which is the tone that I got before from, say, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, one would think that we would be more engaging with Saudi Arabia and using whatever pressure points, you know, there are. You know, we've been very—
MR. : (Inaudible.)
REP. ACKERMAN: -- and the Egyptians need bullets, and the Saudis need bodyguards—
MR. : I don't—I don't know—I'm not—
MR. MAKOVSKY: (Inaudible) -- but my understanding is we sent a message via the Palestinians—there was a Palestinian negotiating team here in Washington last week to prepare for the "political horizon" talks for Rice's visit. And then, and all of a sudden this Mecca thing was unfolding quickly, and via the Palestinians we sent the message that we found Haniya unacceptable, we found et cetera, et cetera. And that was—
REP. ACKERMAN: (You sent it to ?) other meetings?
MR. MAKOVSKY: What?
REP. ACKERMAN: (Inaudible) -- using the Palestinians to talk to the Saudis?
MR. MAKOVSKY: To convey a message to Abu Mazen in Mecca. But I have no way if we also communicated directly with the Saudis; I would hope so. But I mean this was not a secret that they were there. There is a telephone. I would assume that the—to me, it is just underscores that either we're—we seem to be (now ?) on the same page with the Saudis, and there needs to be some understanding about what they're up to.
I am concerned it is just about sectarianism. And that's not a good sign. But maybe—though, maybe not. But I think there needs to be a high-level engagement.
REP. ACKERMAN: Let me ask a question of Dr. Pipes, which goes to the premise that people either accepted or, for the time being, accepted—and that was your assertion that the polls suggest only 20 percent of the Palestinian population accepts Israel's right to exist. You said it would have to be 60 to 70 percent in order to be meaningful.
Khalil Shikaki, who I believe you're familiar with, is the preeminent Palestinian pollster, and he's been right on target most of the time. His conclusion, based on his polling—and I'll quote you the statement: "58 percent support and 40 percent oppose mutual recognition of Israel as the state for the Jewish people and Palestine as the state for the Palestinian people in the context of a permanent settlement and the establishment of a Palestinian state," unquote.
That's a big difference in your assertion and his polling conclusions.
MR. PIPES: It certainly is. My 20 percent figure comes from the whole range of polls of Palestinians in the Palestinian Authority as well as in Jordan and Lebanon. Mr. Shikaki's figures are often fantastical. It is due to Mr. Shikaki that we have a Hamas government.
REP. ACKERMAN: You were able to poll in Lebanon?
MR. PIPES: Oh, yes, though I haven't done the research myself. I can refer you to research by Martin Kramer, who showed how Shikaki had throughout 2004 and ‘05 been assuring everyone that the PLO, Fatah, is doing well in Palestinian public opinion and Hamas is down and getting worse all the time. And this was a critical, critical factor in both the U.S. and Israeli decision to push for the elections, and lo and behold, Hamas did far, far better than Shikaki ever predicted.
So, I would take any figure from Khalil Shikaki with a great deal of salt. And I'll be happy to provide you with this analysis by Martin Kramer.
REP. ACKERMAN: Can one say the Israelis pushed for the elections?
MR. PIPES: Well, we pushed for them, but the Israelis didn't protest, because everyone was looking at Shikaki's numbers.
REP. ACKERMAN: My understanding is that we really leaned on the Israelis to have the elections.
MR. PIPES: They acceded to it; they didn't try and prevent it; in large part because the only numbers coming out of the PA were Shikaki's numbers. And Shikaki was assuring everyone it will come out all right. Fatah will win.
REP. ACKERMAN: If we believed in exit polls, we'd have different presidents from time to time.
MR. PIPES: Well, it was really a big difference.
REP. ACKERMAN: There is a big difference between 58 percent and 20 percent as well.
The answer that was elicited due to the question by my friend, the ranking minority member of the committee, had to do with elections. And I was thinking at the time that perhaps we're going to consider having a hearing on "Elections in the Middle East: Good or Bad Idea?" Because from what we're seeing—and I don't know that we've ever given serious thought to it—but should there be an election in Lebanon while the troubles were going on, although after it ended, I would not have been surprised to have seen the (Hezbollah ?) winning with huge numbers that they might not have had before. But anyway, I thank you for eliciting that question. I think maybe we're going to do that.
We're going to continue with questions, if it is okay with the panel. First, Mr. Pence and then Mr. Berman.
REP. PENCE: Thank you, Chairman.
I want to direct my second series of questions to Mr. Pipes. And I want to recognize that as anyone that might look on at this hearing or read a transcript -- (inaudible) -- danielpipes.org is the single most accessed Internet site with specialized information in the Middle East today.
Mr. Pipes, you've been described by major national media outlets as having been years ahead of the curve in identifying the threat of radical Islam. In The Boston Globe, also a very good quote: "If Pipes' admonitions had been heeded, there might never have been a 9/11," closed quote.
I've been an admirer of yours since before that fateful day, and I would agree whole cloth with the assertions of The Boston Globe in that regard, and I thank you for your service to the country.
I wanted to talk to you—ask you about radical Islam and what—a subject that has been bandied about in the last few questions -- (inaudible) -- radical Islam.
The ambassador said in his testimony that this president might be, quote, "facing defeat in Iraq," closed quote. There has been—there is been some testimony today about the implications of Iraq, Mr. Carnahan raising the issue of linkage, and I share his profound concern about the current danger to Israel that any linkage would mean.
In your testimony, you said, and I quote, Defeat, one might think, usually follows on a devastating battlefield loss, as was the case of the Axis in 1945. But this has rarely occurred in the past 60 years." You said, "Morale and will have consistently mattered more. Despite outmanning and outrunning their foes, the French gave up in Algeria, the Americans in Vietnam, the Soviets in Afghanistan." And if the ambassador's inference, or perhaps prediction, is correct, we may add Iraq to that list at some time in the next two years.
My question to you, as one of the Western world's leading authorities and the most prescient thinkers on the rise of radical Islam, is what would the loss of Iraq by the United States of America mean to radical Islam and to Israel? I mean, I would ask very bluntly, if we lose Iraq, do we lose Israel? Because it does seem to me that a debate will continue late into tonight and tomorrow, and the debate that will continue for months here in Washington, D.C., hasn't fully considered that question.
MR. PIPES: Indeed. I thank you so much for your kind words.
Not to be pedantic, but there is a question of what exactly "losing" means. Our man, as it were, in—or the person perceived as "our man in Baghdad"—is a pro-Iranian Shi'ite, who has elements in his government who we've arrested, who've been found implicated in bombing of 1983 of the Marine barracks in Beirut. The Iraqi constitution in many ways offends us. The oil policies of the Iraqi government are quite at variance with our own interests at times.
What I'm getting at is that the Iraqi government in place is not a puppet of ours. It is not a construct of ours. It is not something that we as Americans find altogether salubrious.
The question is, how different would a government in Iraq be once we pull out? Would it change radically from what it is today? I'm not sure of that answer. The security situation in Iraq is so fluid, with the Sunni-Shi'a dimension, with the resurgent Ba'athists, with tribal elements, with regional elements, with Kurdish interests, that it is very hard for me to get a sense of what Iraq will look like, whether we stay or whether we go.
So I'm not sure how—it could be a radical difference. It could the forces of Muqtada al-Sadr taking over, in which case it would be very, very different. But it might not be that different. It might not make that much difference. The National Interest, a magazine, had a cover an issue or two ago that showed that famous picture of the Americans leaving the embassy in Vietnam in 1975 and asked if this will happen again. I don't think it would be quite something like that, because it is not our order exactly today, and I don't know that the next order that would follow us would be that different from the existing one. So I'm inclined to think it is not that radical of a difference.
REP. PENCE: And I thank you.
Thank you, Chairman.
REP. ACKERMAN: Thank you very much.
Ms. Sheila Jackson-Lee?
REP. SHEILA JACKSON-LEE (D-TX): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
And I would like to explore with Professor Indyk, former ambassador—thank you for your service (in the Middle East ?).
(The recent ?) framework of which we find ourselves in, which is articulated but also historical perspective—I indicated earlier that I had been hosting some, for almost 20 years, combined with my predecessor -- (inaudible) -- and the life-changing experiences that these youngsters have had. In the course of their travels to Israel, they visited Palestinian families and -- (inaudible) -- and others that showed us the richness and diversity of the region.
So I had this sense that dialog does work, and, of course, someone would suggest that that is a simple premise, but I think it works because, as I said, in talking to Israeli families, you will find those who certainly will defend Israel with their lives but also believe in dialogue.
So I'm going to take you back to the end of the Clinton administration and a (piece ?) of those negotiations, because we have so often cited and criticized previous agreements, like Oslo. So many critics would say just another episode of—I'll use the term "dysfunctionality," that that is not going to come to anything.
I remember right after the end of his term, going before the House and pleading with the present administration to continue negotiations.
They might have taken a different framework. They might have wanted to add more stringent requirements or framework but engage -- (inaudible). We did not. In fact, it was proudly announced. I remember members of the Senate proudly announcing that they would not follow that policy, maybe even characterizing it as "wimpish."
If you would, would you take me from that point, if we had pursued that continued engagement, what kind of protocol we could have utilized? And I thank you for your kindness, but I beg to differ, to suggest that the president, secretary of State and others are engaging in the same -- (inaudible) -- because they have how many years of failure in between, so that obviously are coming at it at a disadvantage. Look at the conditions of Palestinian territory now. Look at the rise of Hamas. Look at the failure of Fatah. And so we have those in the way.
But help me to understand, if that protocol could have continued, what we would have gained, and what is the forcefulness that we need to use now? And I say forcefulness, so it could be taking in many elements, such as diplomacy, to help prop up what I think the secretary of State and some of the diplomatic actions are going to learn now.
I think they need to be propped up, because people are not happy with how they see the framework between Hamas and Abbas, and yet the Mecca agreement—I think there is certainly something to cite for the Mecca agreement; I think we need to thank these allies.
But help me go back to that period when—and I will just finish by saying, drop like a hot potato, because -- (inaudible) -- and that was the worst way to drop negotiations and how that really played out. And how do we pick up really the energy behind two—at least one serious negotiator; I certainly was disappointed in Arafat at that time—but one serious negotiator. How can we pick that up?
MR. INDYK: Thank you, Congresswoman. It is a very big question.
I at the time shared your concern. I worked for President Bush as his ambassador in Israel for the first six months of the administration, and I think that it is understandable, first of all, that when a new administration comes in, it wants to do things differently. I came into the White House with President Clinton on his first day in office, and we certainly had exactly the same attitude, but we didn't walk away from everything that had been done before.
Yes, Arafat was certainly a major disappointment to President Clinton, and President Clinton—it was one of the last things that he told President Bush before he left the White House. "Don't ever trust Yasir Arafat," I think his words were. But that didn't mean there wasn't a framework that had been put together over eight years of American investment of not only of the president's time and energy and prestige but of the Congress and of the State Department, a major effort to build an infrastructure of peacemaking.
And when the Bush administration took over, the intifada was only in its third month, and while the casualties were high, they were minor at that point. I think it was 100 Palestinians killed and maybe 30 Israelis at that point, compared to the thousands that were killed in the following four years of the intifada.
And then there is a framework that had been put together by George Tenet, the Tenet Cease-Fire Plan, and George Mitchell, the Mitchell Recommendations, which had been accepted by both sides, the Israelis and the Palestinians.
And the challenge was not to pick up the Clinton parameters and get a final deal. The challenge was to implement the Mitchell Recommendations and the Tenet Cease-Fire Plan to stop the conflict and get back to negotiations. And that wasn't done. Maybe it would have been impossible to do, but it wasn't really tried. And I say that from my own personal experience, because I was there.
You know, one of the things that—just as a personal story here, if you will allow me—one of the things that I suggested to the administration was since they weren't prepared to engage, why don't they let me engage, since I was on my way out? You know, they could sacrifice me.
REP. JACKSON-LEE: Special envoy—you could continue—
MR. INDYK: Yeah. They basically, they gave me the mission as ambassador in Israel to go to work with Arafat and Sharon to try to make this idea work.
But I had said to them, "In order to do this, I'm also going to have to engage in some political discussions about a political horizon." And the letters came back to me that I could go ahead and talk about a cease-fire, but I could not talk about anything to do with a "political horizon."
And that was true, by the way, of General Zinni's efforts. He, too, was circumscribed. He was not allowed to talk about anything to do with a political horizon or how the cease-fire might relate to some process that could achieve both sides' objectives in a negotiation.
And so, as a consequence, essentially the Israelis and Palestinians were left to the own devices, and when they were left to their own devices, the intifada and the terrorism in the intifada and the Israelis army's response to that took over. And that's what filled the vacuum. But even so, there were various opportunities along the way.
After the success in Iraq of toppling Saddam Hussein, all of the region's radicals, including Yasir Arafat, lowered their profile, and he, in response, appointed Abu Mazen as the prime minister. That was a perfect opportunity to get behind Abu Mazen and try to resurrect a process at that time, but that would have been against Arafat's will but, nevertheless, might have had some chance. And we left him twisting in the wind until Arafat then rendered him powerless.
So as I said, it is a big question. There is a lot of history involved in this, but I think that that it was a mistake not engage from the beginning with the administration, and even though it is late, it is not—it is now the right thing to do to engage.
We've lowered expectations with an understanding that this is going to take time, and we've—a willingness—and this is perhaps the hardest part—to understand that the complexity with which the administration now has to deal has a consequence with the fact that over six years the entire edifice of peacemaking has been destroyed. And so we start from a very low base.
REP. JACKSON-LEE: Left me just finish right here just to add to this by agreeing with your assessment. And the apprehension that I have is the low staying power of this administration in the short term of their -- (word inaudible) -- of their presence here as president of the United States or as in charge of this process. And so, is there any instructive counsel you can give as they start at this low stair step? They're starting at the bottom steps now—again. Their time is short. Time is short for the State Department, and the time is short for the administration.
What then, what counsel can you give us that we can make some strides starting at the point of where we're at, as well as starting at a fractured pointed where many aren't even allies or, sadly enough, the condition from prime minister of which you had the opportunity to engage and who brought a certain sense of military (prowess ?) and stature and unquestioned of the their loyalty of the Israeli people.
What are you (betting on ?) in terms of this presence? We have a new government. What then do you think is the counsel for us?
MR. INDYK: Well, as I said, the counsel is to stay engaged. The counsel, I believe, for Congress, is to support the secretary of State in this effort and to back her up. But the effort is really to try to put the train—the "peace train" back on its tracks and get it moving forward again. And that's, I think, perhaps the most that one can expect to achieve in the next two years, precisely because it is the end of the administration and precisely because this administration is understandably preoccupied with some other problems in the region that are of a very highly problematic nature, particularly Iraq, but also Iran.
And so, you know, I think that that's the way we should look at it. This is a process of—this is an effort to put the process back on track, and if this administration can achieve that, then the next president will, I think, be in a position, a much better position to take it up when she comes into office.
REP. JACKSON-LEE: I'd like that. You—then don't let them back slide, is that my understanding? Don't let them back slide.
MR. INDYK: That's one way of putting it, yes.
REP. JACKSON LEE: Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. ACKERMAN: Thank you very much.
REP. BERMAN: I'll be real quick. Just—you didn't really address, except perhaps by implication, the notion of the three conditions and the unity government. In fact, the implication I got was more likely the -- (word inaudible) -- government doesn't hold and so we shouldn't spend a lot of time on that. But, can you see a chance that this, quote, "unity government" actually comes to terms with those conditions and can somehow do something that Hamas and some wouldn't do?
I take it Dr. Pipes thinks this is all an irrelevant process anyway. (Laughter.)
MR. MAKOVSKY: I'm skeptical that the unity government is going to be able to go beyond Mecca. I think that Hamas made it clear that they have certain positions and they were not even going to change them for the king of Saudi Arabia.
So, I find it unlikely that suddenly they're going to go beyond in the new configuration. I don't have much hope. I don't disregard the depth of their—I have got to say religious commitment against recognizing Israel. I don't think they feel they got elected to get first-class tickets to Davos. They're ideologically committed to their platform. So I'm not holding my breath that they're going to change.
I'm more hopeful—focused on Abbas. I can (believe ?) the one who was elected 62 percent for a two-state solution. And Martin might be right that for a variety of reasons he will find that this is not a comfortable thing for him, in which case they leave. But right now, he probably feels that it will tamp down the violence. Unity over peace, that's how I see it. And I'll just say that -- (inaudible) -- Rice horizon, maybe he'll see that the peace is more tangible, and they'll chose peace over unity. I wouldn't rule it out.
There is a lot of different interests here at play—
REP. BERMAN: Funny how you call it the "Rice horizon." I thought it was supposed to be the -- (inaudible) -- horizon.
MR. MAKOVSKY: Did I say Rice? I meant Rice in a political horizon; I mean, but she did discussion with them. It is more tangible; maybe he'll leave.
There are other issues here that Fatah will find in terms of power-sharing. I don't want to get into all of this because of your limited time, you know—in terms of the power arrangements within the PLO. There is all sorts of things here where things could unravel. It is possible that it is a very short-term hiccup; you know, we'll have to see.
But I don't think we should assume that it is and therefore pretend that Mecca is irrelevant. I do think it has real implications, especially for me, the issue of who is in charge of the security services. And there are implications for American aid, and I think until we know better where—what this government is and what it isn't, I think we should just come to a view. I think this idea of calling General Dayton in and see how he would navigate, you know, in such a situation is a worthy exercise.
I think it is just a lot variables up in the air. For me, it isn't an irrelevancy what they've done in Mecca. I (think it is a step ?) back and it requires a review.
REP. BERMAN: There is word today Abbas fired 1,500 of his security forces because they wouldn't fight against Hamas. Apart from what Hamas brings to it—but my final comment—my question is -- (inaudible) -- you came back to is, what is Saudi Arabia's agenda here?
I read I think it was an Israeli paper: "Mecca agreement: victory for Hamas, defeat for Iran." If that's—if the Saudi agenda is that, then why would they have even pushed Hamas to agree to lower their conditions? (Inaudible) -- money -- (inaudible) -- the Gaza Strip, and the allegiance to buy with that is their agenda and maybe they would achieve their agenda—
MR. MAKOVSKY: Right. No, I -- (inaudible) -- the sectarian (theme ?) in a certain way dovetails nicely with the peacemaking in this camp, although one has to be always careful about being accused of getting in the middle of the Sunni-Shi'a issue; this is not a religious question for people in the United States or for Israel or anything like that. You want to stay out of that.
But in a certain way, keeping Iran out is not a bad thing. But if it is only about keeping Iran out, then I have concerns that this isn't going to go anywhere. They will no trouble then bankrolling Hamas is well. I'm sure the king of Saudi Arabia did not like the idea of seeing Mahmoud Abbas sitting with Bashar al-Assad, the same Bashar al-Assad who said he was a half man after the Israel-Hezbollah war; he had mocked every single Arab leader. I'm sure that didn't make King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia happy. And I'm sure he didn't like to see Haniya going to Iran. And I think he was also trying to signal: "This is the center of the Arab world now, fellas. You want to do something? You come to Saudi Arabia. And he succeeded.
And there is no doubt for all our criticism, I think—I don't think either Martin, Daniel or myself would differ that one thing has emerged from Mecca is the centrality of the Saudis, and you know, they've proved themselves. But to me, you know, it might be necessary, but it is not sufficient. Unless we know what they're really about, we're just going to keep going in circles.
REP. BERMAN: Thank you.
REP. ACKERMAN: I'd like to ask an end-game question based on the different philosophies we have with the witnesses. My understanding of the positions of Ambassador Indyk and Mr. Makovsky is that you agree that a two-state solution based on certain conditions is the ultimate outcome. And I wasn't sure about Dr. Pipes, if he saw a Palestinian state as part of the end game.
I know you said that the Palestinians have to lose a war; I don't know how literally you meant that, whether real war or war of ideas or they just have to give up. You also used the word "crushed". These are very active words that evoke a lot of action, rather than just discussions.
Do the Palestinian people, in your view, have to be crushed or mooted of their ambitions, or just certain ambitions, and how do you do that, absent a real war? Or is real war the thing? Or do they lose certain goals and they're entitled to a state? If you did the polling and in your polling they hit 60 percent accept Israel, do they get a state then or they get to go through another set of tests?
MR. PIPES: Well, there are two questions I think you're asking. One, what is the process I see here; two, what is the formal status?
On the process, yes, those are active verbs. But I'm not talking about crushing the Palestinians; I'm talking about crushing the will of the Palestinians to fight. The perfect model for this—well, not perfect but a model for this—would be the end of the Cold War. We did not defeat the Soviet Union through a battlefield victory; the Soviets gave up.
Or, to turn it around, in 1975 we gave up in Vietnam not because we ran out of bullets or soldiers, but because we lost the will to continue. It is the will to fight that is critical. The Palestinians very much have that will, and indeed have more of it today than 15 years ago.
REP. ACKERMAN: I'm trying to understand what you mean by the Palestinians, because I don't have a picture. They went to the polls once and elected a guy who speaks the language and diplomacy, who was a professional negotiator all his life, whose viewpoint was well known that he wanted to negotiate, to denounce the intifada—Yasir Arafat himself claiming it would be a disaster for even the Palestinian people to do that and the only way to achieve their legitimate goals would be to negotiate with Israel. That seems to be a pretty clear- cut philosophical position, and I know you've—
MR. PIPES: May I differ?
REP. ACKERMAN: -- or less evil. Let me just finish. Then the Palestinian people went to the polls again and the election did have consequences. And they elected in their legislative elections an acknowledged terrorist organization, which by their own words announced themselves to be just that. The question is, did they elect them for their terrorist inclinations, or did they elect them because they were the people who brought home the groceries?
MR. PIPES: Right.
REP. ACKERMAN: Because they've now done both in two consecutive elections. So is it the Palestinian people or just certain people who are stirring them up who are terrorists or you believe the Palestinians are inherently terrorists and have to be mooted of those ambitions.
MR. PIPES: No. The latter is easy: No, I don't think they're inherently terroristic. Polls and elections are certainly a good guide to understanding the political viewpoint, but there is also the clear trend towards celebration of violence against Israel, and agreement on the fact that Palestine must replace Israel.
But let me go back to your specific point about Mahmoud Abbas. He was elected quite soon after the death of Yasir Arafat; he was clearly the heir to Yasir Arafat. I differ with Martin in one important detail. Yes, Mahmoud Abbas did denounce terrorism, but he denounced it as a tactic back in 2002 and 2003. I would challenge you to document that he called it immoral.
MR. MAKOVSKY: He did, once. In Arabic; I think it was May 29th, 2003 at the Palestinian Legislative Council. He said it is immoral; it is against our—
REP. ACKERMAN: That's why you're at the table.
MR. MAKOVSKY: Whatever. I remember these things. I'll show it to you.
MR. PIPES: All right. I will stand corrected if Abbas did use the word "immoral." But I still contend that the major thrust of his argument was, "This is not working, this is tactically a failure, and so the Palestinians should not continue with terrorism." I mean, if he used it only once, you are in some sense agreeing with me. He did not say "This is bad, this is bad; you must give this up, it is immoral." He said, "This is not working, this is not working; let us try something different."
One can read the Hamas victory in different ways. One way is that this was a good governance election and it was more honest. But there were alternatives to Hamas, other parties that really were good governance parties and that were not calling for the elimination of Israel, who were just talking about cleaning up the governance.
Given these facts, given the unquestionable support on a mass level for violence against Israel, given the celebration that terrorism brings out, given the massive funeral—
REP. ACKERMAN: It brings out—you know, the whole country doesn't go to the funeral and the whole country doesn't celebrate. You know, you had people celebrating when the World Trade Center was struck down. As I understand, you could've stopped that if more people listened to you. But if—and the other point is—
MR. PIPES: We had people celebrating World Trade Center?
REP. ACKERMAN: Yes.
MR. PIPES: In this country?
REP. ACKERMAN: In this country.
MR. PIPES: Okay.
REP. ACKERMAN: There were.
MR. PIPES: What I mean to say is the public face of the Palestinian body politic—
REP. ACKERMAN: But that doesn't mean the American people accepted it, and I don't know that means the Palestinian people will celebrate when there is an act of terror.
MR. PIPES: If I may return to your second question, on final status?
REP. ACKERMAN: Please.
MR. PIPES: I believe it is important not to hold out carrots in this area. But at the same time, among ourselves it is a perfectly reasonable thing to discuss. And some form of two-state solution does seem to me—partition, as David put it—seems to me the way forward. The only alternative to that, ultimately, is a one-state solution, which means no Israel, which means that Israel is swamped by its neighbors and Zionism is defunct.
So if one is a Zionist, ultimately one believes there should be a Jewish state, then one is ultimately saying there has to be a two- or a three- or however-many-state solution. Absolutely.
REP. ACKERMAN: Well, unless there is something compelling, let me say this: It has been an excellent hearing, in my view, not just because it is our first hearing of the committee. We did not employ the use of the timer here, I note, to the witnesses or the members, and greatly appreciated the fullness of the response, and you have added greatly to the national dialogue and indicating ways that we might go forward.
Thank you very much, panel. We are adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 5:15 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned]
Feb. 21, 2007 update: For some reflections on this hearing, and especially its coverage, see my weblog entry, "My Testimony before the House Subcommittee on Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations, "
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