Same rules apply regarding my notes not being necessarily exact but rather my best effort. OK, on Monday morning we had the following panel:Ambassador Daniel Ayalon
, Israeli Ambassador to the USAmbassador Karim Kawar
, Jordanian Ambassador to the USDavid Welch
, Assistant Secretary of Near East Affairs, US Department of State
Moderator: James Bennet
-- NYT reporter and former Jerusalem Bureau Chief
Each was given about seven minutes to make a statement and then people (or maybe just Bennet) were to ask questions. All paid tribute to the Pope. Here are the highlights.
Israeli: This is a time of opportunity and they're determined not to let it pass. They intend to ease humanitarian concerns. They hope for a smooth and orderly disengagement and hopefully with the cooperation of the Palestinians it will be completed in an orderly fashion. He acknowledged the weapons build up on the part of the terror factions and feels it's a ticking time bomb. He would like to see the PA move aggressively to dismantle the terror groups, curb incitement and feels this needs to be done if they want peace on solid ground. It is his hope that both sides live up to their agreements as well as the international community.
Jordanian: He insisted on calling it the "Gaza Withdrawal," because they have a peace partner now. It was "Gaza Disengagement" when there was no peace partner. [ed.'s note: Yeah. Sure.] It's their intention to help the Palestinians reform the PA and to help them provide security. He says they have tried to be a model for peaceful relations and wants Israel to be at peace with all Arab countries, not just her neighbors. He feels optimism but it's a fragile time. Enemies of peace could hurt the ceasefire. He wants Israel to honor their agreement to freeze settlement building. [ed.'s note: Bite me.] He'd like to see the moderates empowered and for the silent majority to speak out. He discussed the Religion of Peace™ and -- this is important -- he denounced those not abiding by those principals.
American: [ed.'s note: Keep in mind, he was the former Egyptian Ambassador until his recent appointment -- also, he obviously went way over his alloted time.] He has broader objectives.
1) broaden circle of peace
2) returning Iraq to their people
3) people mean us harm so he wants to keep us safe
4) expand freedom/bring reform
About Road Map [ed.'s note: Glad he finally realized where he was] This is a moment of unique opportunity. If Gaza Disengagement [ed.'s note: someone didn't listen or care what the Jordanian had to say] succeeds, it will be a historic chance to broaden the circle of peace. The Road Map -- both parties have obligations; they need to do more than prevention of terror attacks, they need to dismantle the ability for terror. In other words, they need to reform the PA. They need economic reform as well. Israel has responsibilities too -- the settlements and they need to relieve Palestinian hardships. [see "bite me" above] There is a bill before Congress for aid to the PA. [ed.'s note: He obviously is unaware of Condi's thoughts on this -- HA!] There is a need for: coordination on disengagement; security reform -- can't have chaos post-disengagement; and institution building to advance reform. The main challenge -- solidify international support for the process. Need to communicate greater sense of hope/opportunity.
Now to the Q&A. NYT guy himself asked a question.... can't recall it exactly but here are the answers:
Jordanian: Give Palestinians hope; go back to something that resembles '67 borders.
Israeli: Progress by performance -- results on the ground will establish trust to move ahead. He also said that everything agreed on is being done. [ed.'s note: Yeah!]
American: Road Map is performance based. Start with what people can perform now; accountability; need to provide what destination is.
NYT guy shows his bias by asking about the settlement policy.
Israeli: Real effort now is disengagement; will abide by commitments; remember settlers' needs; Israel will abide by law.
Jordanian: New realities being created (cause of illegal settlement building); wall is illegal; international law must be recognized (meaning ICC ruling); if wall on '67 borders, it'd be good; envision no walls and freedom of movement in the future. [ed.'s note: wonder if he envisions no terror too, grrrrr....]
Israeli rebutted: Denounced the ICC as shameful; fence is security, buffer zone -- not political fence but for security.
American: Is US satisfied with the past of the fence? We don't have a settlement policy and we stand by assurances from Israel. Settlements make negotiations harder/prejudices things; Israel has responsibility and the right to defend itself. Some concerns with the path but okay about it.
Question: Piece of advice to Abu Mazen? [ed.'s note: gal sitting next to me said, "Body armor." I laughed.]
Jordanian: Israel can show life has changed since Arafat is gone. [ed.'s note: okay, that was unclear.]
Israeli: Popularity keeps improving. Success of non-violence if he shows leadership now, he has mandate and authority -- a blueprint to reform and should move forward.
1) security reform done quickly is essential.
2) Israel has responsibilities [ed.'s note: not sure how that's advice for Mazen]
3) Governments in area have responsibilities.
4) International obligation to see peace
Question from Abe: What about the right/possibility of Jews living in a future Palestinian State? Why isn't anyone talking about this possibility?
Israeli: Premature to discuss it.
Jordanian: Compensation package by international community
Israeli: What about Jewish refugees who were ousted by Arab countries? If we talk about permanent states, it could offset their claims.
All in all, a very spirited conversation but not as spirited if I'd remembered to ask my question about the State Department wanting Israel to accept safeguards from the IAEA on its nuclear activities.