Interviews with Daniel Pipes
Crisis in the Middle East
FRANK SESNO, CNN ANCHOR: Joining us now for more perspective on this fast-moving situation is Daniel Pipes, founder and director of the Middle East Forum. Thanks very much for coming in today, appreciate your time. You have heard over these last few minutes the latest snapshot of the situation there, as well as the positions being staked out by both sides. Do you see a way out of this?
DANIEL PIPES, DIRECTOR, MIDDLE EAST FORUM: Frank, it's going to be a tough few days ahead. The only way it's going to stop is if the Palestinians stop their assault on the Israelis, and that doesn't look likely at this time. I have a sense that there is a feeling of exuberance, of excitement among the Palestinians that we haven't seen in a generation, if not more. They feel they've got the Israelis on the run, they've got the backing of the Arab world, and I would be very surprised if we see a real decline in this kind of violence.
SESNO: Where does all this leave Chairman Arafat? He is the one to whom Barak and President Clinton have turned to issue the order to stop this violence.
PIPES: Well, I don't quite agree with Barak that Arafat is in a position to start it and stop it. I think it's a much more complicated situation. Arafat-yes-does have real power, but at the same time he is feeling pressed by the exuberance of the Palestinians to go along with it, and if he were to get in the way of it, he might get rolled over by it. The key point is that the Palestinians over recent years have grown and grown in their sense of excitement and ambition as the Israelis have been giving them one benefit after another and not really making any demands in return. I think the Palestinians feel Israel is on the run, now is the time to go and get it. But lo and behold, the Israelis seem, the first time since 1993 to be saying, well, no, this isn't working, we have to rethink the Oslo process. So it's a time of turbulence, of rethinking. I would hesitate to predict, but I think the Arab-Israeli relationship is going to be different after these few days from what it was before it.
SESNO: If the ultimatum that Barak set out comes and goes, if the peace process is effectively over at that point, what is the situation on the ground? You cannot have an urban war, if you'll pardon the expression.
PIPES: You can have a urban war. This has happened before. There was an Intifada that lasted for six years. Before that, in the 1930s, there was an Arab revolt that lasted for three years. It can happen. There is no reason to assume it can't.
SESNO: And would it be confined to the Intifada as the Intifada was confined, or would it perhaps because of this Arab world equation that you lay out extend beyond Israel's borders?
PIPES: It could well be larger than the Intifada. It could well include guns, it could well include Lebanese, it could well include Israeli Arabs. It could be much larger, there is certainly every possibility. This is a very tense time and the key point, again, is are the Palestinians willing to go back to the negotiating table with Israel and talk and-you know, talk-or are they fed up with talking and feel that there's no need for talking and violence is the way to proceed. I think, personally, that it's the season of violence now, but I hope I'm wrong.
SESNO: All right, Daniel Pipes, appreciate your time, thanks very much.
PIPES: Thank you.
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