Can Israeli-Palestinian Peace Ever Be Achieved?
ANDRIA HALL, CNN ANCHOR: The latest conflict between Israelis and Palestinians seems to have pushed the prospect of peace even further out of reach, or has it? Joining us now from New York is Daniel Pipes. He is the founder and director of the Middle East Peace Forum. We thank you for being with us on WORLDVIEW.
DANIEL PIPES, DIR., MIDDLE EAST FORUM: Thank you, Andria.
HALL: Sir, I really want to focus in on the emotions behind the latest outbreak of violence. Opposition leader Ariel Sharon visited the holy site in Jerusalem. This is what seems to have sparked the fighting. What chord did his visit strike on both sides?
PIPES: What Ariel Sharon was showing on his visit a few days ago is that an Israeli can go anyplace in Israel. It also came at a time when the Palestinians were pretty much fed up with negotiating, bargaining, talking and were looking for some way to show that they really had enough of this and wanted to find a different way to achieve their goals and that, we now see, is what one person early in this report called the Second Intifada.
HALL: So you're saying that basically this was a release of frustrations?
PIPES: That's right. The Palestinians have grown more and more encouraged by what they see as Israeli weakness, and less and less inclined to negotiate and more tempted to follow this other path of pressure, of force, and that's what we see has now started and I expect, Andria, that this is going to last quite some while. I think this is a turning point.
HALL: The latest Intifada-those are such strong words-can you put this latest round of violence in perspective for us?
PIPES: What's happened since 1993 is that the Palestinians have been making demands and the Israelis have basically been acquiescing to them. But as we go further and further down the route of bargaining and concessions, the Israelis are becoming somewhat more inclined to hold back, especially as we're getting to the Temple Mount of Jerusalem. And at this point, the Palestinians are saying, who needs negotiations, let's use force. Now, this is an abrogation of the agreements that were reached in 1993, but it still is, I think, a reflection of two things: one, growing Palestinian self confidence; and two, growing Israeli desire to just get out of this conflict, to finish with it, and go on to do more interesting and exciting things.
HALL: Should outside mediators like the U.N. get involved at this point?
PIPES: It's always a good idea to have American mediation, if so long as we do not press our own agenda, but listen to the two sides and reflect on them and come to our own very carefully thought out conclusions. Yes, but careful, careful.
HALL: So who's court is this volatile ball in now?
PIPES: Well, in the first place, it's in the Palestinians: are they going to continue to use violence, or are they going to let off. But in the second place, and ultimately it's in the Israelis' court: are they going to acquiesce to this, or are they going to say no to this; are they going to insist on bargaining, or are they going to say, well, you got a point, violence will in fact put pressure on us. So there is a lot ahead of us. I think this is a really important time in terms of Arab-Israeli peace making.
HALL: Meanwhile, on the diplomatic front, you look at this and you say both sides presumably will continue talking, hoping to move the peace process forward. What is it going to take to fix this, what's it going to take to stop it?
PIPES: I think basically this is out of the hands of the rulers, the leaders. Ehud Barak, Yasser Arafat are not the ones who are running this show now. This has to do with the Palestinian street, as it's called, it has to do with Israeli public opinion. I think at this point the leaders are basically watching to see what the response is, and once they find out what it is, they can run with it and make decisions. But at this point it's pretty much out of every-any single person's hands. It's a body politic decision, what the Palestinians want to do, what the Israelis are going to do in response.
HALL: Daniel Pipes with the Middle East Forum, thank you very much for joining us on WORLDVIEW, sir.
PIPES: Thank you.
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