Ross officially joins Israeli lobby
January 19, 2001
ROSS OFFICIALLY JOINS ISRAELI LOBBY THINK-TANK
WHICH IMMEDIATELY ISSUES MAJOR REPORT
They put him there and now they hire him with a big pay raise
"Work with key Arab moderates (especially Egypt,
Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Morocco) to encourage
acts of public and private leadership in
support of the peace process."
During the Lebanon War of 1982 -- some think of it as Sharon's war -- the
Israelis and their American Jewish friends felt they had a difficult time when
it came to public relations. And when the American Marines pulled out, symbolizing
the failure of the Israelis to force Lebanon into the American-Israeli orbit
and out of the Syrian-Arab one, the Israelis realized that they had much power
in Washington on Capitol Hill, but not enough power with the media, intellectuals,
and think-tanks. Hence was born the new think-tank to become known as the Washington
Institute for Near East Policy -- the lobby's own think-tank.
Over the years the Israelis and their American Jewish friends have spent much
time and effort building up the Washington Institute as well as positioning their
people in key positions, both in and out of government. A few examples:
Wolf Blitzer, former editor of the lobby's newsletter, Near East Report, became
Washington correspondent for the Jerusalem Post and then, with much help from
"the lobby", was promoted to his current still expanding role at CNN. Martin
Indyk, former Executive Director of the Washington Institute, was detailed to
the Clinton campaign in Little Rock; and then when Clinton was elected Indyk
was quickly made an American citizen and "the lobby" got Clinton to essentially
put him in charge of Middle East negotiations (first in the National Security
Council, then as Assistant Secretary of State, and then Ambassador to Israel).
Dennis Ross is another of those whose careers have been guided by "the lobby";
and when he was put in charge of Middle East negotiations Ross hired a group
of loyal (or is it "dually loyal") American Jews to make up the "negotiating
team" -- all approved by "the lobby" of course.
Over the years the Washington Institute has become a force in Washington with
the media similar to how the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC),
essentially its parent, is on Capitol Hill. Amazingly, many of the Arab ambassadors
and journalists have cooperated with the Institute in helping it achieve this
role -- but that's another major story in itself.
So, even before he leaves his role in Government overseeing the "peace process"
as an American Ambassador working on behalf of the Israelis as well as the U.S.,
Dennis Ross has officially signed up with the Washington Institute. Others from
the American negotiating team will probably do the same; and who knows maybe
Indyk will be coming back as well.
Meanwhile, "the lobby" doesn't waste time. Bush is not even President yet
and the Washington Institute has already issued a major "Presidential Study Group"
report designed to guide, and pressure, the new Administration.
Read on. There's a lot of information here (hence we saved it all for "MER Weekend
Reading") but the insights into how "the lobby" thinks and what to expect from
the US in the months ahead are worthwhile.
U.S. MEDIATOR PUTS OF MIDEAST TRIP
WASHINGTON (AP - The Guardian - Tuesday, 16 January) - With the outlook bleak
for concluding a peace accord, U.S. mediator Dennis B. Ross on Tuesday put on
indefinite hold a scheduled trip to the Middle East where he had planned to confer
with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
With only five days left in his term, President Clinton's hopes for a settlement
approached the vanishing point. And Ross' long career as a Mideast mediator could
end without a final burst of diplomacy in the region.
Ross will joint the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a private research
group, its top officers, Fred Lafer and Michael Stein, announced Tuesday.
Simultaneously, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Ross was ``not
going to make the trip we thought he would make.''
But, Boucher said, ``we are not giving up in our efforts.''
Ross, who held the post under Secretaries of State James A. Baker III, Warren
Christopher and Madeleine Albright, said late last year he planned to give up
the job at the windup of the Clinton administration. He is expected to leave
the State Department at the end of the month.
The incoming Bush administration may revamp the peacemaking apparatus, giving
it less autonomy by folding it into the Near East Bureau. At the same time, Secretary
of State-designate Colin Powell may assign one of his top deputies to oversee
Edward Djerejian, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and Syria who has helped
Baker run a foreign-policy institute in Houston, is rumored to be in line for
But whether Powell gives special emphasis to the Arab-Israeli conflict is an
open question, dependent in part on whether the region is beset with violence
and whether the dovish Prime Minister Ehud Barak or the tough-minded Ariel Sharon
wins election for prime minister Feb. 6.
Clinton's efforts to promote a land-for-peace agreement came close to success
last summer at a Camp David summit involving Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser
Arafat. He gave negotiators for the two sides a blueprint for a settlement before
Christmas and in a speech this month in New York made it public.
It included statehood for the Palestinians and control over part of Jerusalem,
but not support for Arafat's insistence that millions of Palestinian refugees
have a right to live in Israel.
Having tried several times to micromanage peace terms, Clinton after the Jan.
7 speech began to distance U.S. diplomats from the bumpy negotiations and place
more emphasis on urging the two sides to cooperate to curb violence.
Both Clinton and Barak have warned that if the peace talks failed there could
be renewed conflict in the region.
Senior Israeli and Palestinian negotiators resumed talks Tuesday in Jerusalem
amid continued violence. In Gaza, Jewish settlers attacked Palestinian farms
and homes in retaliation for a settler's death at the hands of militants.
Without waiting for the result of the Bush-Gore election, Ross said in November
that he would quit in January.
Having logged hundreds of thousands of miles in a 12-year pursuit of peace based
on Israel giving up territory in exchange for treaties, Ross cited family reasons
for relinquishing the job when the administration changes in January.
In a speech to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, Ross, 51, called the surge
of violence ``disheartening'' and said ``there are very deep, psychic wounds
that are going to take some time to repair and recover from.''
Ross helped to persuade Israel and the Arabs to start peace talks in 1991 and
in brokering a compromise deal in 1999 between Israel and the Palestinians over
the contested West Bank town of Hebron.
Ross, in his Washington career, managed the rare feat of advising first President
George Bush, for whom he was the chief foreign policy strategist in the 1988
presidential campaign, and then for Clinton, to whom Bush lost in 1992 despite
attacking him as inexperienced in foreign affairs.
STUDY ADVISES BUSH TO REASSESS "OSLO"
By Ze'ev Schiff
Ha'aretz Military Editor
[Ha'aretz, 17 January]
A special Presidential Study Group sponsored by the Washington Institute for
Near East Policy is recommending that the incoming Bush Administration
"assess lessons of the Oslo experience" and "explore alternative paths to
peace" between Israel and the Palestinians.
The study stresses that "there is no strategic alternative to the diplomatic
process, for either Palestinians or Israelis," but adds that "there are,
however, different paths the parties could take to achieve progress toward
The 52-member panel that composed the study includes both Democrats and
Republicans, as well as various Middle East experts. Several participants
have asked that their names be removed from the list of signatories since
they have in the meantime received appointments in the new administration.
For example, Paul Wolfowitz will be deputy secretary of defense and Bob
Blackwell is serving in President-elect George W. Bush's transition team.
The study concludes that "the top Middle East priority for a new president is
to prevent a descent to regional war. The current fighting between Israelis
and Palestinians could degenerate into wider regional war either through
design or miscalculation." The authors of the report see the Lebanese-Israeli
border as "the most serious 'hot zone' for potential hostilities."
The formula proposed for deterring regional war includes three "ingredients":
1. "Affirming the 'unwritten' alliance with Israel."
2. "Work with key Arab moderates (especially Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and
Morocco) to encourage acts of public and private leadership in support of the
3. "Deterring adversaries, current and potential. Make sure that Syria's new
leader, Bashar Assad, understands that emboldening Hezbollah into military
actions against Israel could provoke a wider regional confrontation in which
Syria itself would receive the brunt of Israeli retaliation.
Baghdad must also understand that the United States will orchestrate
political and perhaps military responses should Iraq seek to intervene in the
Arab-Israeli conflict, to bully or blackmail regional players like Jordan
into adopting more obstructionist positions, or to exploit the current
situation for military advantage elsewhere, such as in northern Iraq.
TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW WITH ROSS ON
LEHRER NEWS HOURS, PBS, 16 January:
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Thanks for being with us.
DENNIS ROSS: Pleasure.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: You've been working at this a
long time at great personal sacrifice. You've had to
be away from your family for months at a time. Why?
People tell us it's not just a professional commitment
but a personal mission with you. Is that right?
DENNIS ROSS: I think that's a good way to put it. I
worked in a lot of different issues before I focused
exclusively on this one. On other issues whether I was
negotiating START or issues of that sort, they never
had the kind of personal character to it that this
does. For me, this is a conflict that has a human face
and because of that, I became more and more focused on
what could be done to end this conflict. Obviously it
served America's national interest, and clearly I was
working for a president and Secretary of State who
were deeply committed to trying to resolve it. But for
me, there was an increasing sense that there has to be
a way to resolve this because it was clear to me that
both sides wanted to find a way to resolve it.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Take us back to August '93 when
then-Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and one of the
chief Israeli negotiators, Joel Singer, wanted to
involve the United States in the Oslo process. Tell us
what happened and where you were.
DENNIS ROSS: What happened in August of 1993 both
Secretary Christopher and I were vacationing in
California not too far from each other. He called me
and said he just received a call from Prime Minister
Rabin and that the two of us needed to go to Point
Magoo which is a naval base not far from Santa Barbara
the next day where we were going to have a secret
meeting with Foreign Minister Peres and with Foreign
Minister Hoest of Norway and that there was some kind
of an agreement that had been between Israel and the
PLO but Rabin really wanted our judgment -- and he
asked very explicitly -- he wanted our judgment before
he knew that this was something he was prepared to
embrace. That's the way he put it. So we went to Point
Magoo and Shimon Peres laid out what it is that they
had done and he turned to Secretary Christopher and he
said, "What do you think?" And Secretary Christopher
turned to me and said, "What do you think?" And I
said, "It's a historic agreement. It crosses an
extraordinary threshold. Psychologically we have just
gone...we have made unbelievable progress." And
there's a lot of work to be done. No question. But in
terms of crossing a major divide, a psychological
divide, that's what this agreement represents because
it represents mutual recognition between Israelis and
Palestinians. Once you cross that threshold there's no
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: In all these years what's the
highest point for you?
DENNIS ROSS: I think the highest point was probably
the initial ceremony at the White House because it had
much more of a sense of history than any other moment.
There were other moments where there were agreements
that were significant, but they were all derivative
from that initial one. I mean from a personal
standpoint when we concluded the Hebron Agreement,
which I basically shuttled over two different 23-day
periods to work on and finally conclude, from a
personal standpoint just given the level of effort,
the around-the-clock effort that was involved with
that, that was a personal high point. But I think
September 13, 1993 at the White House was truly a
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Would you say that right now is
a lowest moment?
DENNIS ROSS: It certainly is one of the lowest
moments. I think Prime Minister Rabin's assassination
was for me personally the lowest moment. I spent an
enormous amount of time with him -- an awful lot of it
in private one-on-one meetings. I admired him. He was
a man who had a strategic vision. He was a man who had
the courage to act on those visions. And I think from
a personal standpoint, he had taken on for me a kind
of larger-than-life quality. To see him struck down
and everything that represented I think that was truly
devastating. The current period is very difficult as
well because we have come so far and gotten so close,
to then see us in this kind of a period which raises
questions about, again, the underpinnings of the
process, it's obviously not an easy way to be
concluding my tenure.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Talk about that. The questions
that are raised about the underpinnings -- as you know
General Sharon who may be the next Prime Minister --
the polls show that he's ahead -- said, "I want to put
this as clearly as I can: The Oslo agreements do not
exist anymore, period." Are they over? Is the process
you've spent all these years working on basically
DENNIS ROSS: Well, I don't think the process can be
over when you have Israelis and Palestinians who are
destined to be neighbors. They're going to be
neighbors. You cannot change that fact. History and
geography have destined them to live next to each
other. You can't wish it away. So a process is not
going to disappear because they have to find a way to
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: What about the agreement up
spent so much time developing? Will they stand?
DENNIS ROSS: The agreements created a reality on the
ground. There is a Palestinian authority today. You
can't wish that away. That shapes the choices for
Palestinians and Israelis as well. We are at a point
where you're going to have to negotiate a new set of
agreements, either a permanent status agreement or
something that creates a basis on which both sides can
live together. All the agreements that came up to
now-- there have been five, after the declaration of
principles -- five agreements, they were all limited
or partial agreements. They were all designed to set
the stage to move towards a conclusion. Now clearly at
this point, something has to replace that. There's no
question about that.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Does your leaving mean that you
do not foresee any kind of a final agreement soon?
DENNIS ROSS: I made the decision to leave. My reasons
for leaving are much more related to the personal toll
that this kind of a job takes. I've done it for, truly
I've done it for twelve years not just the eight years
of this administration. So I was ready to leave in any
circumstance. Now I'm not walking away from something
I believe in. I will continue to write and speak about
these issues and try to affect the climate within
which decisions get made. And I will try to affect
also both parties in terms of what are the choices
that are available to them and how best to act on
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: You were very close at the end
of September to an agreement. You've said you were
meeting here in Washington with Israeli and
Palestinian negotiators. Tell us a little about that
and do you wake up at night and think, "Oh, we were so
DENNIS ROSS: I believe that at the end of September we
were clearly narrowing the gaps.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: This is just before the violence
DENNIS ROSS: Just before the violence broke out. And
we were reaching a point where it looked like an
agreement might be possible. In fact when I met with
the negotiators I was actually the most skeptical of
where we were and they were... they thought there was
more potential than I did. At the end of three days of
discussions what I felt was that, in fact, yes, an
agreement is possible. Now, the violence has had a
devastating effect on both sides. And yet, you know,
you have President Clinton coming forth with ideas
that were very far reaching, I think very significant
from the standpoint of trying to settle this conflict.
He said at the time when he presented it that if the
ideas in the end weren't accepted that they would be
withdrawn and they would leave with him and he
repeated that last week.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: But they're meeting today. Is
there a possibility that there could be a sort of
outline, basic principles that are adopted in the next
week before the inauguration of the new president?
DENNIS ROSS: Well that's really up to them.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: What do you think happened? What
caused the violence and the breakdown in the process?
DENNIS ROSS: I think it was a combination of things.
Clearly on the Palestinian side there was frustration
that has built up over the years. On the Israeli side
there is a sense that we have come so far, we have a
government that is stretched so far. How could we
stretch that far, not have it accepted and have
violence as well? What you see is a deep sense of
grievance that has emerged on each side. I think
there's one basic lesson I would draw, and that is
that throughout this process, whatever the reality was
at the table it wasn't matched by the reality on the
ground. And the gap between the negotiations
themselves or the leaders and the realities on the
street have got to be reduced if you're going to reach
an agreement of this kind of nature.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Some people have called it an
agreement of elites and that the preparing people on
the ground for it just didn't happen at all.
DENNIS ROSS: I think that's right.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Why? Why didn't it happen?
DENNIS ROSS: Well, I think here I would say the
Palestinians did not do a lot to prepare their public
-- partly because they see themselves as the weaker
player in this equation, partly because the sense of
grievance becomes an ongoing pressure to try to
resolve things, partly because they don't want to give
cards away that they consider to be important to the
negotiations. But I think they do have to do a better
job of preparing their public. On the Israeli side, I
think they also have to recognize that they may
contribute to sources of grievance. Demolition of
homes, confiscation of lands, expansion of
settlements, these are things that create a sense of
powerlessness on the Palestinian side and add to the
sense of grievance. The Palestinian authority, I
think, has got to do much more to socialize peaceful
attitudes on the one hand, not socialize hostility on
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: How was your relationship with
Arafat? In the Camp David meetings last summer, he at
one point accused you of acting like Barak's lawyer. I
mean, you know that the Palestinians have criticized
you for being too close to the Israelis, for being
their advocate. How was your relationship with Arafat?
DENNIS ROSS: Well, I think actually I spent so many
hours with him I think I've come to know him rather
well. I think I had a professional relationship with
him. I mean we had good moments, we had tough moments,
but that's the nature of any negotiation. I have to
tell you that each side at one time or the other has
accused me of being the other side's lawyer.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: You've taken a lot of hits from
both sides, I know this.
DENNIS ROSS: Yes. And I think that goes with the
territory. I've spent a lot of time trying to explain
each side to the other. Now, inevitably, when you're
explaining one side to the other, they think, well,
gee, you're understanding one, well, what about me, so
there was a lot of that, but it's the essence of being
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: When you look back now - I
want to ask you this once again - do you feel like all
of this work is unraveling?
DENNIS ROSS: You're going to have to go through a
process in resolving this kind of a conflict that is
characterized by different stages. You can try to
resolve everything at once, and we do for a variety of
reasons, given the alternatives, but I think you have
to recognize that psychologically to take on issues
that are existential to each side, like tourism, like
refugees, like settlements, like borders. There needs
to be a period of conditioning where each side comes
to understand what's possible and what isn't possible.
If you don't take that on, you're never going to
settle the conflict. But the process of taking it on
is something that requires some time. We have broken
the taboos on these issues. The Camp David... Camp
David was itself I think successful because it allowed
the dissection of these issues in a way they had never
been dealt with before. Oslo allotted three years to
deal with permanent status issues. We didn't have the
three years during the Netanyahu period because
permanent status was never addressed then. We had less
than a year to try to deal with these. So when you
finally got to Camp David, which was the first time
issues like Jerusalem were seriously dealt with at
all, each side had to begin to understand what was
possible and what wasn't possible. Having broken the
taboo, having demystified these issues, it means that
they can be dealt with over time. Maybe it will take
some time to resolve them. But the groundwork, the
essential foundations I think have been laid.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: How much worse could it get?
DENNIS ROSS: There's a potential for it to become much
worse. Even when I say that we've laid the foundations
for an eventual agreement, if you don't get an
agreement now, it may take several years before you
can get back to that point. In the meantime, the only
difference will be not the outcome. It will be the
number of victims.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Well, thank you, Mr. Ambassador,
very much. Good luck.
DENNIS ROSS: Thank you.
ROSS TO "POST":
PALESTINIANS MISSED HISTORY OPPORTUNITY
By Janine Zacharia
JERUSALEM PSOT, WASHINGTON (January 19) -
leadership misled its public about what would be
achievable through negotiations and has missed an
historic opportunity for a peace settlement with
Israel, outgoing US Middle East peace envoy
Dennis Ross told The Jerusalem Post in a 40-minute
"The Palestinians have to do more to tell the truth to
their own public about what's possible and what
isn't possible," Ross said, adding that on the other
hand Israel should refrain from unilateral "steps on
the ground." He referred to Palestinian opponents of
US President Bill Clinton's proposals as
descendants of those who rejected past schemes for
shared sovereignty of the Holy Land and later
He largely agreed with the Israeli assessment that
the Palestinians spawned a wave of violence in
September after deciding their goals could not be
achieved through negotiations.
"It is difficult to see what possible stake Israel has
in violence and there are clearly some on the
Palestinian side who seem to think violence serves
their cause," he said.
Ross acknowledged that it was upsetting for him as
a Jew when the Palestinians questioned the Jewish
historical connection with the Temple Mount during
negotiations over Jerusalem. He confirmed for the
first time that, in 1995, then-Syrian president Hafez
Assad had rebuffed a US request to issue a
statement of condolences after the assassination of
Yitzhak Rabin, saying instead that he was already
doing his part by keeping the Syrian public from
celebrating in the streets.
Ross, who wraps up seven years as special Middle
East coordinator today, also spoke of Palestinian
Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's intentions, the
story behind Clinton's setting out his bridging
proposals in an unprecedented speech to the Israel
Policy Forum, a Palestinian right of return, troubles
he faced as a Jewish negotiator, prospects for a
post-Clinton peace deal, and his biggest regret.
Jerusalem Post: Do you believe that Arafat
sincerely wanted a peace deal?
Dennis Ross: It is even more of an historic decision
obviously than the decision to agree to OsloÉThat
was an historic threshold that was crossed and it
was a big decision, but it's not as big a decision as
ending the conflict with Israel. To make that
decision he has to satisfy in his own mind that it's
something he can accept, the terms are terms he is
prepared to live with, and he also believes he can
JP: So Arafat needs more time to digest it?
DR: At this point, I would say, for whatever
reasons he has not been able to conclude a deal,
even though there are obviously very far-reaching
ideas that the president of the United States
JP: Did you ever get the feeling Arafat was
schizophrenic? That one day he seemed a
peacemaker and the next the opposite?
DR: My feeling is that he has always had in mind
certain bottom lines and the question is being able
to reconcile his bottom lines with Israel's bottom
lines. What the president did was present our best
judgment of what was fair, what responded to the
central needs of each side - not to the desires - and
what was feasible. And it was the outer limit. This
is something at this point obviously Chairman
Arafat could accept only with reservations. The
president's ideas leave [the White House] with the
JP: This point is distressing a lot of people. They
don't believe it. They say once you lay out those
ideas publicly, they become a new starting point for
any future negotiations.
DR: The president also said those who press for
more will get less. And he also said in that speech
[to the Israel Policy Forum] not to push for the
impossible...The president's ideas were not a new
expression of American policy. The new
administration is not obligated in any way, shape,
or form by these ideas.
JP: Did you support the idea of the president going
public with all of these ideas in the IPF speech?
DR: Yes I saw value in the president doing it.
JP: Who wrote the speech?
DR: It was a collective effortÉThe president had a
text, but at least half of what he said was
completely the president on the stage.
JP: One point in the speech that caused concern in
Israel was when he spoke of a Palestinian right of
return and said refugees would be entitled to go to
DR: The fact of the matter is there should be a right
of return to the new state of Palestine. There should
be no right of return to Israel. There's a complete
illogic in terms of having your state which can be
the ingathering place for all refugees and yet at the
same time wanting the right of return to your
JP: So why did the president say, refugees "who
want to find new homes, whether in their current
locations or in third countries, should be able to do
so, consistent with those countries' sovereign
decisions. And that includes Israel."
DR: Does that say "right?" Did I hear "right of
return" there? "That they are allowed to find new
homes consistent with the sovereign decision of
those countries." So who has the sovereignty?
JP: But then you have a situation where hundreds of
thousands of Palestinians are applying to go to
Israel. And Israel will reject most of them. That's
DR: Israel is treated from that standpoint as a
country like any other who will decide who it
JP: Wasn't there a trade-off - Israel makes more
concessions on Jerusalem and in return the
Palestinians forgo the right of return? Now Prime
Minister Ehud Barak went further on Jerusalem and
Israel still has to contend with the right of return.
What did Arafat give up?
DR: They have the right of return to their state. They
don't have the right of return any place else. They
can apply to go other places. They have the right to
compensation that will be handled through an
JP: A personal question. As a Jew who spent a lot
of time in Israel, you were criticized a lot in the
Arab world. How did you deal with that? And also,
as a Jew, did you have any trouble during the talks
negotiating away parts of Jerusalem, for example?
DR: It's a lot easier to criticize me than to criticize
the president or the secretary of state. No. 2, it's
almost inevitable in this role that you are going to
be criticized. I spent an enormous amount of my
time explaining one side to the other. And
inevitably that means whomever you are dealing
with at the time feels you are taking "their needs
into account, what about mine?" In terms of my own
personal feelings about what I was negotiating,
obviously this was a difficult process for everyone
JP: As a Jew, when the Palestinians said at Camp
David there was never a Temple on the Temple
Mount, did that upset you?
DR: Yes. Look, if one side or another tries to deny
the other side's history or its truth it's inappropriate.
JP: What do you think the president's biggest
DR: I don't know that the president miscalculated.
JP: Never? Did he not believe mistakenly that he
could persuade Arafat at Camp David to accept a
DR: The notion that somehow everything was based
on the assumption that you can simply persuade
Arafat is erroneous. We didn't go to Camp David
because we thought the chances were great. We
went to Camp David because we saw the
consequences of not going.
JP: What were those consequences?
DR: We were going to have an explosion much
sooner. It would be over the issue of statehood. It
would set in motion statehood versus annexation.
You would have a cycle of escalation that would
make what we've seen so far seem tame by
comparison and we would never have known if an
agreement was possibleÉThere's a lot of
JP: You said you had to see if a deal was possible.
You didn't get one. Is it impossible now?
DR: This administration stretched to the very limit.
JP: So what does this bode for subsequent attempts?
DR: You cannot wish away the fundamentals. Those
who think you don't have to give anything are
simply wrong. On the Palestinian side there are
those who press Arafat to either get more or say no.
They're the ideological descendants [of those] who
said no in '48 and those who said no to the Peel
Commission report in '37. And every time they've
said no, later on they regretted saying no, because
what's available has become less. And the
opportunity that was there doesn't last. There are
probably those in Israel who think they can hold all
the territory and they'll have peace. They are living
just as much of an illusion.
JP: Are you referring to Likud prime ministerial
candidate Ariel Sharon?
DR: I'm not typecasting anybody. I'm simply saying
those who believe you don't have to give anything
on either side are wrong. The realities will impose
themselvesÉ My feeling is if you don't achieve
something in the very near future, then it will
probably be several years before you can achieve
something again, at least in terms of a complete
JP: Why didn't you go back to the region one last
time as planned?
DR: First, because I wanted to see more done on
security, and second because I wanted to see
whether their own contacts would materialize. Then
it got to the point when it was too late to go.
JP: Some Syria-related questions. When prime
minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in 1995,
did you ask late Syrian president Hafez Assad to
issue a statement expressing regret over his
JP: And did Assad say, 'I am already making my
contribution by not letting the people riot in joy in
DR: He did say something to that effect. But he did
express his sympathies to Leah Rabin and he
wanted them passed.
JP: The Clinton-Assad summit in March is cited as
a real missed opportunity, what happened?
DR: We did not expect to close a deal in Geneva.
That was never the point. The idea was whether or
not you would be close enough that you would then
be able to move toward closing a deal. Clearly the
president felt that what he brought from Prime
Minister Barak put us in a position where we
should be able to move toward closing a deal.
JP: There must have been some prior indication that
Assad would accept what you were bringing.
DR: We came out of Shepherdstown [in January]
and we had a series of impressions of what was
possible. And when we got to Geneva what we
found is some of the things we thought were
possible suddenly seemed less possible.
JP: Who is responsible in your view for the past
four months of violence?
DR: It is difficult to see what possible stake Israel
has in violence and there are clearly some on the
Palestinian side who seem to think violence serves
their cause. They are completely wrongheaded.
Violence will not serve their cause. Rather than
achieving their aspirations, it will delay the
achievement of their aspirations.
JP: But didn't the Palestinians get more concessions
from Israel after the violence?
DR: They don't have anything right now.
JP: Didn't the Israeli offer become sweeter in
negotiations after the clashes broke out?
DR: Frankly, the kind of ideas that the president in
the end presented were [ones] he might well have
presented, given where things were headed.
Violence did not produce more for them. In fact the
violence created an environment where it was
harder to conclude an agreement. If the Palestinians
want to see an agreement, there are things they have
to do with regard to security. I also think the
Palestinians need to do much more to prepare their
public for peace than they have.
JP: There seemed to be a total disconnect between
what the Palestinians were saying to the
administration and what they said publicly.
DR: It's not just what is said to us. I see a gap
between what happens at the negotiating table and
what happens away from the negotiating table. That
gap has to be reduced. You can't socialize hostility,
you can't socialize grievanceÉAt the same time if
you want the Palestinians not to socialize grievance
and [you want to] be effective in that, then there
shouldn't be steps that Israel takes on the
ground...But the Palestinians have to do more to tell
the truth to their own public. About what's possible
and what isn't possible.
JP: The incoming Bush administration is planning to
eliminate your position of Middle East coordinator.
What do you think about this?
DR: This position was created for me. I'm not
particularly surprised that a new administration
when it comes in, since I'm leaving, would want to
think about how best to organize things and may do
it in a different way.
JP: What is one thing you wish you had done
DR: I think the whole people-to-people approach,
the whole need to ensure that there isn't incitement
that there isn't socialization of hostility. If there is
one thing I wish we had done more effectively,
JP: You have referred to Rabin as "a man of
strategic vision" and "courage." Do you feel the
same way about Barak?
DR: Prime Minister Barak has put himself on the
line. He certainly has been prepared to make
historic decisions. He sought to do that within the
context of what he has defined as Israel's essential
needs and what he feels is also fundamental to their
securityÉIt has not been easy for him. He believed
it was a moment when we might be able to end this
conflict. We also believed it was a moment where
you might be able to end this conflict. I believe
Chairman Arafat also believed it.