Palestinian-Israeli Violence Continues Unabated; Clinton Diplomatic Initiative Falls Short
CNN World Today
JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: For some insight into the Palestinian-Israeli clashes, we're joined by Daniel Pipes, who's the director of the Middle East Forum, a non-profit group that promotes U.S. interests in the Middle East.
We appreciate your being with us.
Let's talk first about Mr. Arafat and whether this is really a precarious situation for him. We talked a little bit about the balancing that he's trying to do, but does he also have the power, the ability at this point to stop the clashes?
DANIEL PIPES, DIR., MIDDLE EAST FORUM: Joie, I don't think he does. He has certainly some influence. He controls the police, he controls intelligence services, he controls what's known as the Tamzin, the youth.
But in the end, I think what's really important here is that a mood has developed over the last decade of Palestinian strength, Arab strength. There's a feeling of enthusiasm, of excitement, of exhilaration, which is moving this forward fast. And Arafat, I don't think anymore, can control it.
It's a little like -- a little bit like the fire in the Los Alamos hills, which was started under control but got out of control. Nobody now controls this. Arafat can make a difference. He can help, but it's now a sense, as Peter Rodman just put it, that Israel's on the run, and there's a great deal of excitement through the Arab and Muslim worlds.
CHEN: You have written in recent days about the violence, about the clashes, marking a turning point in this quest for peace. Do you see it as a turn to a dead end?
PIPES: Well, Joie, I think the Israelis are now at a very decisive point. They can choose to continue with the Oslo process that had started in 1993, it's seven years old now, or they can decide that this is defunct. It didn't work. It was a good idea, it looked like a great idea. It was a very attractive idea, but it was a failure.
Personally, I think it is a failure from the American point of view. The Israelis went out of their way to give, to be generous, to overlook the Palestinians not fulfilling their part of the contract. But in the end, what you find is not a Palestinian body politic that's ready to reach out to Israel and make peace, but you see Palestinians who are full of hate and who really in the end want to destroy Israel. So I'm pessimistic personally. I think the Israelis would do best if they were to rethink this whole thing. And I think, as Americans, we want them to. Because insofar as they continue with the peace process, they are signaling the Arabs that they are weak. And if the Arabs get the sense that Israel is really weak, then they might attack. And then we Americans, you know, are in the middle. And we are going to be in a tight spot.
So we want -- we need an Israel that can protect itself, that is seen as strong.
CHEN: Let me talk about thinking and rethinking. That is under way, after all, at this hour in Tel Aviv, the Israeli Cabinet meeting again in emergency session to discuss all these issues right now, even as we speak. What would you look for in their response?
PIPES: Well, the meeting that is taking place now is probably going to be decisive. I look to a -- the key thing for me is, are they going to say, once the violence is over, we're going to return to the negotiations as they were before -- we will basically ignore this. We will basically accept this all-out assault on Israel and make as though if didn't really matter very much -- or are we going to say this is something very important, very decisive, and you cannot be ignored? That's the key.
Are the event of the last 12 days an important factor, or are they something to be discounted?
CHEN: And indeed, all politics is local. The local Israeli politicians looking to Israeli public opinion, is it behind pursuing the Oslo process?
PIPES: We don't know yet. What tends to happen is that in times of crisis like this, the Israeli population is disgusted with the process and says enough. But then a week or 10 days later, they say, well, you know, there's really alternative. We'd better go on with it as it is.
The key question is not so much what the instant response is, but what the response will be in a week, two, three.
CHEN: Daniel Pipes, the director of the Middle East Forum, we appreciate for you being us for THE WORLD TODAY.
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