Israel Resource Review 16th January, 2004


Discrepancies Between the State Department Position and the White House Position on the Hamas:
An Examination of Public Statements to Dismantle Hamas or Only to Restrain its "Military Capability"
David Bedein

This report carefully documents the public State Dept. position vs. the public White House position regarding the "rehabilitation" of Hamas, which could hardly be more different. With the same consistency that Boucher and Ereli (State Dept. Spokesmen) use to describe the "capabilities" of Hamas, White House Spokesman McClellan explicitly demands the dismantlement of Hamas, and reports that this is the President's position.

Among the potential explanations for this:

1. The president is aware of this distinction and has approved the policy. In such case, either:
a. The State Dept's position is designed to temporarily appease Arab/Islamic states (i.e. Saudis) as the price that must be paid for counter-terrorism cooperation.
b. McClellan's position is designed to distract an outraged public from the new policy of rehab for Hamas.


2. The president is not aware of and/or not in approval of, the State Dept.'s plans to send Hamas into rehab.

In the case of option #2, the State Dept's policy is the following:

1. To send a message to Arab states and Islamic terror groups: 'The president is only here for 4 years (8 at the most). We were here before him, and we'll be here after he leaves. We agree with you, he's a wild cowboy. He also doesn't know what goes on in our mid-level bureaucracy that never reaches his office. Just stick with us and we'll find a way to help pull you through.' It is, of course, also a sly message to EU states: 'See guys, we have more in common than you thought!' (However, my question is: By suggesting support for Hamas, isn't the State Dept. itself helping to undermine the PA? Why would they do that?)


2. The State Dept. is simply doing the job of American diplomacy: Laying the groundwork for continued relationship with whomever takes power in the future, so that relations with a group/nation are maintained even when the leadership changes. (It is possible, then, that the President has approved of this). In this case, the State Dept. has astutely noted that the PA is on the fritz, and that Hamas & Co. are riding higher. Therefore, State Dept. is simply hedging bets and playing an even hand. If the PA disintegrates and Hamas takes effective control, State Dept. will insist on maintaining relations/contact with Hamas (which will probably just take over the PA, possibly without even renaming it).

The key point: By endorsing Hamas, the State Dept. is saying that no matter who controls the Palestinians, the State Dept. will endorse a Palestinian state anyway. The PA/PLO is now no longer the only suitable authority to rule/establish a Palestinian state. The Palestinian people deserve a state no matter what, and no matter who runs it. In other words, Hamas is now conceptually simply another political group vying for control over a "country". That country is real inasmuch as it is comprised of the Palestinian people. In other words, the State Dept. has already effectively declared a "state of Palestine". The only question for them is which political party exercises the most control over it.

"USER'S GUIDE" The statements from the White House (specifically McClellan, and sometimes Bush) come at the end of the document, after all of the quotes from State Dept. officials. These are not all of the quotes (by a longshot!), just some of what I feel are the most critical excerpts.

CRITICAL NOTE: McClellan talks regularly about dismantling the terrorist groups and "infrastructure" of Al Qaeda, and also talks about dismantling the terrorist groups and "infrastructure" of Palestinian groups. It seems that when he says "dismantling terrorist infrastructure" he means the same thing whether it's about al-Qaeda or about the Palestinians. Obviously very different from the State Dep't interpretation of "infrastructure".

Note two fascinating interviews in particular: On July 1, and July 2, 2003, Powell did interviews with two conservative anchors. One was Brit Hume on FOX News, and the other was with Sean Hannity on ABC Radio (who also works for FOX News). In BOTH interviews, Powell inserted this idea of "dismantling capabilities" and NEITHER of the hosts noticed it.

Conclusion: The hosts were not sensitive enough to realize what Powell is proposing, AND the very notion of rehabilitating Hamas is so foreign to them that they could not have even conceived of it. Additionally, this was almost certainly a trial balloon effort by Powell to see if popular conservative commentators would catch-on to the plan. Neither did. Yet.

Note: In this paper:
"Sec. Powell": Denotes a Statement by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell
"Mr. Boucher": Denotes a Statement by U.S. State Department Spokesman Amb. Richard Boucher
"Mr. Philip Reeker": Denotes a Statement by U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesman Amb. Philip Reeker
"Q." or "Question:": Denotes a question or statement by a journalist.

June 6, 2003
Mr. Boucher: We will work closely with them to ensure that groups like Hamas cannot conduct terrorist and violent action. We've always said it's not just a matter of what they say -- they say or don't say, it's not a matter of what they promise or don't promise, it's not a matter of what they say they will or they won't do, it's a matter of what they can and cannot do. And we all need to work to make sure that they cannot carry out these kinds of -- this kind of violent action that they've taken in the past.

Question: Richard, is it your assessment that under present conditions, Prime Minister Abu Mazen could, in fact, take any decisive action to disarm and disband Hamas and Islamic Jihad?

Mr. Boucher: I would say that he is -- he and his security people themselves have said that they think there are actions that they can take to help quell the violence; that they are committed to those actions, you heard him explain, not just for the sake of the peace process, but also for the sake of establishing a single Palestinian Authority that actually had authority and didn't have to fight rivaled armed groups in order to maintain its status as a government, in order to build a Palestinian state the Palestinians want.

It's not a matter of what they decide to do today or do tomorrow, or declare today or declare tomorrow. It's what they can do. And eventually we have to find a process that's going to eliminate their ability to carry out violent acts, because otherwise we're going to have to deal with this on a day-to-day basis, what -- how they feel when they wake up in the morning.

June 12, 2003
Mr. Boucher: The point in this situation is the violent groups; the violent groups -- Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad -- they need to be stopped. There are things the Israelis can do, there are things the Palestinians can do, there are things the Arabs can do. And we all need to be working to stop those violent groups from carrying out these kind of activities.

Mr. Boucher: The -- it's important for everybody to do what they can to stop the ability of these groups to carry out violence. We've made clear that they need to be -- their capabilities need to be stopped.

June 13, 2003
Mr. Boucher: [I]f we're going to end with the violence at some point, we have to see all the parties cutting off money, cutting off support, cutting off the ability to operate, cutting off the ability of violent groups to challenge the authority that needs to be vested in the Palestinian Authority, in the new government.

June 16, 2003
Mr. Boucher: A cease-fire is a step along the way to dismantling their abilities, may be a good idea. It may be a step along the way. But that's about as much as I can describe to you about it.

Q. So that Hamas, in effect, should be involved in its own dismantling, though.
Mr. Boucher: I'm not going to comment further on this. I think I've explained our position on this. I don't want you to go making assumptions about the word "cease-fire." You'll have to ask the parties what they've agreed to. And if it's a step along the way towards ending the capability, then that would be a good thing. That's all I'm saying.

June 17, 2003
Sec. Powell: There are also discussions between Palestinian leaders and Hamas and other organizations as to whether or not they will stop terrorist attacks, and I hope that over the next day or two I will get fuller reports of those discussions and whether there is any promise there and any possibility.
It would not be enough in the long term for Hamas to simply say, "We're not gonna do it right now, we're not gonna give up the capability." Ultimately, these terrorist organizations have to not only stop conducting terrorist attacks, we have to eliminate their capability to do so, and that has to be one of the goals as we move forward in the roadmap? There's no need for this kind of capability to exist in any organization, and we have to come down hard on organizations such as Hamas, which try to claim that they're a political organization at the same time that they have an armed wing that is conducting terrorist activities.

June 18, 2003
Sec. Powell: As they [Palestinian Authority security forces] increase their capacity, I think they can do more than just perhaps seek a cease-fire with some of the militant groups, those who've sponsored terrorist activities, but can begin the process of removing their capacity to undertake such terrorist activities. But this will be a long-range effort and this is the time to begin.

June 19, 2003
Sec. Powell:
Powell: I think I have been using my position, not the Israeli position. We believe that terror has to end and we also need to eliminate the capacity to perform terrorist activities. So I view a cease-fire or truce or whatever you chose to call it as just one step toward eliminating the capability to conduct terrorist acts.

June 20, 2003 (Press Conference #1)
Sec. Powell: And even if those discussions prove fruitful, we really have to get to a point, as the prime minister has said in more than one occasion, where the only ones with guns and military force in any nation has to be the government under legal control, and not an illegal capability -- whether it's being used or not -- being allowed to exist.

June 20, 2003 (Press Conference #2)
Sec. Powell: Hamas takes credit for these terrorist acts?

The funding is fungible. The leadership takes credit. And despite whatever charitable or other social good these organizations may perform, as long as they have as an organizational culture a commitment to terror and violence and a desire to destroy the State of Israel, I think this is a problem we have to deal with in its entirety, and that's the message we are taking to our friends around the world as well. Thank you.

June 23, 2003
Sec. Powell If we get Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Al Aqsa Brigade and the others to stop conducting these kinds of activities then there is no need for the State of Israel to try to conduct preemptive actions because there will be no actions that they have to preempt.

June 27, 2003
Mr. Boucher: I saw wire service reports this morning, I think, a particular wire service report that quoted Sheikh Yassin as saying that they decided to implement a cease-fire but that it would be formally done in several days, or something of that sort.
We certainly would welcome that as a first step towards the end to violence and terror. It needs to be followed by other steps to dismantle the capabilities. But we certainly believe that that could be a useful step to see in the coming days?.
?A state can have only a single armed authority and cannot have to compete with armed authority from other groups, and that therefore this process has to lead, for them and for us, down the road, to the dismantling.
So we see a comprehensive cessation of violence and terror as a welcome development, but it's not an end in itself. It needs to be the first step towards fulfillment of that larger goal -- a complete end to violence and terror, achieving rule of law over all Palestinian areas, and the dismantling of terrorist capacities of all groups engaged in violence, as Prime Minister Abbas has called for?.
. . . And certainly the United States is actively working to make sure that any cessation of violence is merely a step that leads towards the dismantling of the ability of these groups to carry out terrorism?.
. . . And groups that carry out violence and continue to try to maintain the ability to carry out violence are actually undercutting the Palestinian cause and making it more difficult for Palestinians to achieve the state that they desire. So, we've called on all groups to stop the violence and to abandon violence as a means of achieving whatever goals they think they have.
Okay. Can we maybe ask somebody else?.
. . . And through the support that we can provide the Palestinian Authority will be able to take more and more responsibility. Part of that responsibility is ensuring an end to violence, ensuring that it doesn't -- an end to the capabilities of the armed groups. So, it's an ongoing effort that we'll all be engaged in.
. . . And the Palestinian leadership has made very clear that that is their goal, to create a Palestinian state, to create the institutions that can support a Palestinian state. And that means getting single authority and not having to compete in authority with other armed factions or groups.

Question: Richard, has Abu Mazen given you any idea what conditions would have to exist before his security service apparatus would be strong enough to use force against Hamas and the other groups?
Mr. Boucher: Again, whether that -- your -- I don't know. That gets you leaping somewhere down the road.
? If the Palestinian Authority takes over security in Gaza, the situation may change. So predicting, you know, at some point they have to declare war on Hamas, maybe true, maybe not, but we'll just have to see how events evolve. I can't predict at this point how they will. What I do know is the first steps are the ones we're trying to undertake now: get a cessation of violence, keep moving on -- get a cessation of violence as a step towards dismantling their capabilities, and get the Palestinians to take security responsibility for Gaza?.

Question: (Off mike) -- suggested that these groups, Hamas and others, would get involved politically, in election and so on, but apparently State Department's against that.
Mr. Boucher: Well, I mean, let's be clear about what Hamas is. And the secretary was very clear. Hamas is an enemy of peace. We expect that any individual or organization that would participate in public life in the Palestinian leadership would be firmly committed to democracy, to the rule of law and to eradicating terrorism.
The organization of Hamas that we're dealing with does not demonstrate that it can be a partner for peace. So I -- think it's (widely/wildly ?) [sic] speculative to talk about anything else. This organization as it exists, as we see it, is dedicated to the cause of disruption and violence.

July 1, 2003 (FOX News Interview With Brit Hume)
Sec. Powell

Mr. Hume: As you go forward, Mr. Secretary, what are you most worried about that could interfere here?

Secretary Powell: I'm talking about Hamas. I'm talking about the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. I'm talking about the Al-Aqsa Brigades. They have entered into a ceasefire. But as long as they have the capability to conduct these kinds of attacks, they can come out of a ceasefire at some time in the future. So we hope they'll stay with the ceasefire, but ultimately, we are going have to convert this kind of organization into organizations that no longer are interested in using terror as a political weapon.
And I believe that's also the commitment of Prime Minister Abbas. As he has said, "The armed Intifadah must end." And he has also said, "Those who have guns within any state must be under the control of the government. The government has to have the power, the military power, the armed power in a democratic state." And I hope he will continue to believe in that and move in that direction.

Mr. Hume: The President has spoken of dismantling Hamas. Can that be done?
Secretary Powell: Well, it remains to be seen what Hamas chooses to do as it moves forward. Hamas has a social wing to it where it provides services to people, but it has this armed militant wing that is determined to destroy the state of Israel. These two wings cannot live separate lives. They are one organization. And until Hamas abandons all efforts to conduct terrorist activity and all intent to conduct terrorist activity, then we have to be hard on all of Hamas.

July 2, 2003 (ABC Radio Interview With Sean Hannity)
Sec. Powell:
In other words, is there any discussion about aligning yourself with Israel to defeat these groups that have been killing women and children in discothè±µes, and pizza parlors, and on buses and et cetera?
Secretary Powell: We are aligning ourselves with both, the Palestinian Authority and with Israel, to make sure the world understands that these are terrorist organizations. And we have made it clear to the Palestinian side that a ceasefire isn't enough. A ceasefire means that they retain their arms, they retain their capability. It may be a first step, but we are expecting the Palestinians to do more to remove the capability for terror that currently exists in these organizations.
For a long time, we would say, and people would say, well, you know, Hamas may have this terrorist wing to it, but it also has a wing that does good humanitarian work, and therefore we shouldn't condemn the whole organization.
But we do condemn the whole organization. You can't separate them out. And if Hamas wants to be an organization that serves the people, it serves the people best by getting rid of its terror component. And Prime Minister Abbas knows this has to be done, and certainly Prime Minister Sharon knows it has to be done and President Bush knows it has to be done.
And I hope that now that Gaza is open, Bethlehem is open, the Palestinian people can see that Prime Minister Abbas is delivering for them. So why continue to support Hamas and terrorist organizations when they're not delivering anything for us?

July 2, 2003
Mr. Boucher:
Question: But I'm beginning to hear a different tone here. Now, I'm beginning to hear that Hamas is kind of a two-headed operation: You know, bad guys, and then a social side to it, running all sorts of nice, sociable programs. So, I just want to do a reality check. Is it still the administration's position that Hamas has to be --
Mr. Boucher: (Chuckles.)
Question: No, this is a serious question, because it's been described --
Mr. Boucher: Yes. The answer to your question is yes and you're not --
Question: Do you want to dismantle, though, or just weapons taken away from them?
Mr. Boucher: We want the terrorist infrastructure dismantled, we want the funding that goes to Hamas stopped. We've made that point at Sharm el-Sheikh. We've made that point in our contacts with the Europeans.

July 24, 2003
Sec. Powell:
Question: Is it possible -- referring to your interview with the Lebanese journalist -- is it possible for Hamas to have any kind of a political future? You seemed -- you were very strong about wanting them to get rid of their arms, get out of the terror business, but you also said if they hope to have a -- you know, you seem to leave open the door to something less than the destruction of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Or is that reading too much into it?
Sec. Powell: Any organization that has a terrorist component to it and supports that kind of terrorist activity cannot have a place in the peace process. Now, if an organization that has a terrorist component to it, a terrorist wing to it, totally abandons that, gives it up and there's no question in anyone's mind that that is part of its past, then that is a different organization. But right now, Hamas still has a social wing to it that does things for people in need, but unfortunately, its good works are contaminated by the fact that it has a terrorist wing that kills innocent people and kills the hopes of the Palestinian people for a state of their own. And I think that covers it rather well.

August 1, 2003
Mr. Philip Reeker: On the Palestinian side we have been working with the Palestinians and the Israelis to see that security progress continues, so that we can have an end to the violence, but a dismantlement of the terrorist architecture, the terrorist structures that can allow that violence to disrupt the roadmap, and disrupt the goals and hopes of the people on all sides of the situation. That's what we are looking at.

August 7, 2003
Sec. Powell: But we need to see a lot more. We need to see a more concerted effort against the capacity for terrorist activity on the Palestinian side. It's not enough just to have a cease-fire, a hudna as it's called, which could be ended any day. What we really need is a concerted effort on the part of the Palestinian authority to go after those organizations within the Palestinian community that have the capacity of conducting terrorist acts. Organizations such as Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
We can't have a situation where during a time of a cease-fire, those organizations are improving their capability, testing new weapons, or creating new factories in order to build more weapons. So, we're looking for a concerted effort on the part of the Palestinian security officials to go after the infrastructure, the terrorist infrastructure that exists within the Palestinian community.

August 12, 2003
Sec. Powell: Hamas has said they are entering a temporary cease-fire. Others have said temporary cease-fire. That's allowed the violence to go down a little bit. It's not enough. We need leaders who are strong enough and have enough vision to say I am only going to try to achieve my objectives through peaceful political means and not through the use of terror and violence.

El Setohi, Q: When you ask the Palestinian Authority to go after Hamas and Islamic Jihad and others or to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, for Israel it's clear they mean an all-out war against Hamas, but I'm not that sure what you mean by this.
Powell: I didn't call for an all-out war against -- I'm asking Hamas --
El Setohi, Q: I mean, I'm asking about going after Hamas. What do you mean by that?
Powell: I -- Hamas says that they will use terror. Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other organizations that are representing what they say the Palestinian interests are prepared to use terror. They are prepared to kill innocent people through suicide bombings and through other means as a way of achieving what they say their goal is -- a Palestinian state.

August 20, 2003
Mr. Boucher: As the president reiterated yesterday, even before the bombing, the Palestinian Authority needs to dismantle and disarm the terrorists, the terrorist capabilities of the organizations that are taking innocent lives and trying to prevent the peace process from moving forward?.

He has a call now scheduled with Prime Minister Abbas this afternoon. He has expressed our sympathy to the Israelis, condemned the attack, and with both parties, he's discussing the need for the Palestinians to take immediate, effective security steps to dismantle terrorist capabilities, making clear -- underscoring the need for the Palestinians to move now on security?.
So our special envoy, Ambassador Wolf, is back in the region. He's already in meetings with both sides, meetings and discussions. He's been in contact with both sides already and will continue to work with both sides to find a way forward to ending violence and terror and to obtaining the kind of action that we need to dismantle the terrorists' capabilities.
I think the answer is, obviously, there is more that they can do, and that's why we're calling on them to move now on security to -- especially to dismantle the capabilities of these organizations that carry out terrorist attacks.
But, as the president said even before the bombing, the most important thing is to dismantle the capabilities of the terrorist groups, and both sides need to look at how that can be done.
We need to establish peace and security for people in Iraq, the Palestinians, Israelis, others. And we need to eliminate the capabilities of these groups to carry out terrorist acts. That applies in all our fight against terrorism.
Mr. Boucher: At this point, we understand the first priority is security, and that more needs to be done to dismantle the capability of the terrorist groups. We are talking to both sides, then, how to move forward to achieve those goals.

Question: Well, on that same line, what do you make, if anything, of Prime Minister Abbas' decision to cut off contact with Hamas and Islamic Jihad? Is that something that you think is a good idea?
Mr. Boucher: As we've always said, the steps that need to be taken are steps to dismantle the capabilities, and those are the kind of concrete actions we're going to be looking for.
Question: To cut off contact? Because there are some that say that engaging them might -- it may be easier to dismantle their terrorist infrastructure if there is some contact --
Mr. Boucher: I don't think that's a debate that leads anywhere. It's not a matter of statements or contacts. It's a matter of capabilities, and that remains our focus.
Question: Well, exactly. So you don't make very much, then, of the statement that they're going to cut off --
Mr. Boucher: I don't have anything particularly one way or the other. That may be part of the equation as far as they see it. But the effort -- the thing that we're concentrated on now is seeing what can be done to dismantle the capabilities of these organizations.

We have not really had a strong opinion one way or the other on context. But the question is not what they will or won't do, the question is what they can and cannot do, and that remains the focus for us, as it has been all along: Are they capable -- do they have the capabilities? And the capabilities need to be eliminated . . .

. . . Well, we are in discussions with both sides, and particularly with the Palestinian side, in terms of John Wolf, in terms of our other people we have out there at the consulate general, to talk about how they can move forward; talk -- hear from them about steps that they think they can take to dismantle the terrorist capabilities. So, I don't think it's quite a matter of my trying to specify it from here. It's a matter of working with them, talking to them and hearing from them about the steps they can and intend to take, to make sure that those are steps that they can take that can have an effective end to the capabilities.

August 21, 2003
Mr. Boucher: I don't -- I don't have any particular comment to make on that. I would comment on the overall situation, I think, first of all, to refer you to the remarks the secretary made this morning; how important it is to insist that terror perpetrated by organizations such as Hamas come to an end?.
. . . [That] Palestinians take immediate steps against these organizations, but also that all the people involved in the region take essential steps to cut off any kinds of support or any kinds of finance that might be reaching terrorist groups such as Hamas?

I think the basic point, though, is we want the parties to look for ways to move forward, to -- we understand the big question right now is security, after the horrible bombing in Jerusalem.
People need to establish security. We'll be quite clear Israel has a right to defend itself. We've also been clear the parties need to think about the consequences and to establish security in a way that moves forward, and that next steps are dismantling the organizations that produce the terror.

Mr. Boucher: Yeah. Yesterday, the secretary was on the phone all day long on a variety of topics. With most -- for example, Europeans, it was obviously Baghdad, Iraq, the new U.N. resolution, the Middle East. With some of them, it was the status of the Libya resolution. With the Palestinians and the Arabs, it was the Middle East; need to end the violence; action on security; actions that the Palestinians can take, but also actions that everybody should be taking to squeeze the terrorist groups and put them out of the business of terrorism, put them out of business period?

The secretary's been in touch with a variety of people who can help press this forward in a way that ends the terrorism, that ends the terrorist -- the ability of terrorist organizations to carry out their actions. So, that, I think, is clear. That's the direction that we want to move in. We've been quite clear we need to move forward with the steps that are needed to establish security, and that means dismantling the terror organizations?

Mr. Boucher: And so we -- the secretary in his conversations is being -- working all those different levels of the problem, to make sure that we're focused on effective steps on security that can help the Palestinian Authority dismantle the organizations that have been perpetrating terror?

Mr. Boucher: So the goal -- you know, before the bombing, the president said the most important thing is dismantling the terrorist organizations. And that has been what we've raised in public, what we've raised in private, and continues to be. And that -- the pressing need to do that is all the more apparent now, very sadly.
Question: Some of the Palestinian militant organizations have called an end to their self-imposed cease-fire. Do you -- would you like to see them return to a cease-fire, or are you no longer interested in that and you simply want to see them dismantled, taken apart?

Mr. Boucher: We've always said we want to see them put out of the business of terrorism. We've allowed that -- we've, I guess, acknowledged that the Palestinian Authority, having this responsibility, also has to figure out how to go about it.
But my point is they need to be put out of the business of terrorism, and that's what we are continuing to press for. So, you know, I'll go back to the phrase I use all the time. It's not what they will or won't do, it's what they can and cannot do. And they cannot -- these organizations cannot have the capability to carry out terrorism.

Mr. Boucher: I don't think I can really characterize it in that fashion. As you know, when it was originally decided, when they originally announced their cease-fire, we made clear that while we respected the decisions of the Palestinian Authority to go about the elimination of terrorists or terror capabilities in that fashion, a cease-fire was never an end in itself. A cease-fire was maybe a mechanism or a step along the way. But the goal had to be to eliminate the terrorists' capability, and that remains the goal.

August 27, 2003
Mr. Philip Reeker:
Mr. Reeker: What this should be, Joel, is an end to the violence. They should stop the terrorism now. It's the groups like Hamas who slaughter innocents who are the enemies of peace and the enemies of the process which the Palestinian Authority, the Israelis, the leaders in the region, the whole international community has signed up to?. And that's what has to happen. And action has to be taken to pull out, root and branch, the capability of these terrorist organizations to disrupt the process, to perpetrate their criminal, murderous actions, which only causes suffering of innocents and derails the process and the hopes and aspirations of the Palestinian people.

And so, our views of Hamas, this terrorist group, are well-known, and our view again is that terrorism and the violence has got to stop now.

August 28, 2003
Mr. Philip Reeker: It's very clear, as I said, that we've got to stop the terror and the violence. And the organizations who are enemies of this process, no doubt, have got to be stopped. They've got to be prevented from impeding and complicating the efforts in which they are very determined to do.
So every effort has to be made to pull out, root and branch, the capability of terrorists and their organizations to commit these acts. And that has been the main problem of this terror. And as I said, though, both sides need to do more to advance the process.

. . . what the United States government is doing in terms of our efforts to make everyone live up to their commitments, and that includes people in the region, absolutely. They have all committed, as part of the road map process, to doing all they can to make sure that we stop terror, to make sure that we can end funding, end the ability, the capability of these groups to perpetrate these acts which are intentionally designed to disrupt the road map process, to prevent there from being a peace and to ruin the dreams and aspirations of the Palestinian people and terrorize the Israelis.

September 8, 2003
Mr. Boucher: Forward movement with continued terrorist activity by Hamas and other terrorist groups is simply not possible. Hamas and such groups obliterate the hopes for peace and the possibility of two states living side by side in peace and security.

The juncture that we've come to on the road map, however, we think requires action by the Palestinians to take control of the security situation and to stop the efforts of violence groups who have tried to disrupt the process and kill innocent people.

With Prime Minister Abbas, we were able to move on the road map. He was exercising authority he had, and while we understood and said it was limited to some extent, we were managing to achieve some progress along those lines. But he was never -- he was not able to get real control over all the security services, and thereby, get real control over the activities of terrorist groups.

But I think that is a sign from the Europeans of the importance that they now attach to ending the activities of these terrorist groups. And we all know that's the item on the agenda. So I think to the extent that they -- you know, they haven't gone in quite the level of detail you're talking about, but they've all talked about the need to move forward on the road map, to have control of the security situation and to end the activities of the terrorist groups.

September 9, 2003 Mr. Boucher: We extend our deepest sympathies to the victims of the attack, their families, and to the Israeli people. This underscores the urgency with which the Palestinian Authority needs to take immediate and effective steps to dismantle and disarm the terrorist capabilities of organizations that take innocent lives in order to prevent the peace process from going forward.

Mr. Boucher: -- that the imperative on the Palestinian side is getting a handle on their security situation, getting a handle -- ending the activities of groups that have supported terrorism. It remains as strong as before.

Statements by White House Spokespersons:

July 25, 2003 Friday

Question:Wait, wait. Let me just follow up on the Palestinian question. On settlements, it sounds as if the president is saying that the emphasis on fighting terrorism must continue before, as he put it, we can tackle these bigger issues. Why can't settlements be dealt with now? What do settlements do --
Mr. McClellan: The president has consistently spoken out about the need to end settlements. And I don't think -- you know, you're trying to separate the two. He's consistently spoken out about how the Israelis need to end the settlements, not in a conditional way. But -- but he also emphasized the importance of fighting terrorism, and appreciates the steps that are being taken. And we need to continue to make sure all parties do their part to fight terrorism and continue to make more progress in that area as well.
Question: Let me ask you about the security component, because that is, as the president said, the most important part of this. There was talk some time ago about setting a date certain for the dismantlement of groups like Hamas. Is there any other -- any real progress that the Palestinians can actually demonstrate in this regard, other than a general pledge to do that?
Mr. McClellan: Well, they're taking steps to address the security situation, and the president -- some of the -- that was some of the conversation over lunch as well; they continued to talk about some of the security issues, as well as the importance of helping to improve the lives of the Palestinian people. They talked at good length about the economic condition and getting in there so we can provide help to strengthen the economy and jobs. But --
Question:But what evidence is there that groups like Hamas and others are less powerful, less cohesive than they were before the --
Mr. McClellan: Well, the Palestinians have taken steps that have helped to reduce violence. And there is -- obviously, we want to continue working in that direction and do more. The road map spells out the steps that need to be taken. In phase one, the very first stage, it makes it clear that they need to dismantle the terrorist groups. And that continues to be our position.

Question:I have two related questions. Number one, what is the president's position on the existence of Hamas? And number two, in the unclassified --
Mr. McClellan: His position is that Hamas is an enemy of peace and that Hamas needs to be dismantled because it is a terrorist organization. That's his position.
Question:Okay. My second question. Yesterday in the report of the Joint Committee on 9/11, the third recommendation of that committee said they recommended that the NSC develop a government-wide strategy for combatting terrorism both at home and abroad, and it should include Hezbollah and Hamas. What, if anything, in this last seven months has the White House done in this respect?
Mr. McClellan: What have we done? We've done an awful lot. We're winning the war on terrorism. The president is going after terrorist organizations where they are, not waiting for them to come to our shore, before it's too late. We are taking significant steps on the home front to better secure America through the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, through the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, where we're now sharing information and maximizing information-sharing among our agencies. So there's an awful lot that we're doing. Those are just a couple of examples.
Question:But specifically regarding Hezbollah and Hamas?
Mr. McClellan: Well, they continue to be terrorist organizations on the terrorist organization list. And we've made it very clear that people need to stop supporting those organizations and that they need to be dismantled.
I promised Helen I'd come back to her.
Question:Does the president think that every Palestinian who fights against Israeli occupation is a terrorist? He almost speaks of Palestinians simultaneously with terrorism. Does he know what it is to fight for his own land? And what does he think the American revolutionaries were?
Mr. McClellan: The president believes that people that carry out attacks on innocent civilians are terrorists indeed. The people that --
Question:Israelis killed a four-year old boy -
Mr. McClellan: The people that jump on -- and that's a horrible tragedy any time an innocent child's life is lost. That's a terrible tragedy. And certainly it's a tragedy for the family, and our thoughts are with his family, as well.
Question:He understands why Palestinians fight for their own land, doesn't he?
Mr. McClellan: He understands that the Palestinian people would like to have a peaceful and secure state where they can realize their full potential.
And that's why he expressed his commitment to helping to improve the lives of the Palestinian people and reemphasized that today. And we've always been committed to that.
Question:He said terrorism should be quelled on both sides, right?
Mr. McClellan: Well, the terrorist acts on innocent civilians need to stop, and everybody needs -- all parties ought to --
Question:(Inaudible) -- Israelis?
Mr. McClellan: -- all parties have a responsibility to do their part. You know, you're making a very broad characterization there. We've always said that Israel has the right to defend itself.
Question:To defend itself, but in occupied lands?
Mr. McClellan: Russell?

July 29, 2003 Tuesday

Mr. McClellan: Well, as you are aware from what I said earlier, we worked very closely with the joint congressional inquiry and provided unprecedented cooperation.
We made sure that the joint committee had access to hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, that they had direct access to hundreds of individuals in the intelligence community and law enforcement. We worked to make sure that we could declassify as much information as possible because of how important that is. But what we will not do is compromise our national security by allowing information relating to sources and methods to be released, or allowing information about ongoing investigations relating to the September 11th terrorist attacks to be released. It is too important to our continuing war on terrorism and our efforts to go after and dismantle, disrupt and defeat al Qaeda and its terrorist networks.

But I think what is important to remember is that al Qaeda continues to want to harm America, and it is all the more reason we are waging a global war on terrorism. We are making progress.
We are disrupting and dismantling the global terrorist networks. And it's important to go after and confront these terrorists where they are, before they can attack us. And that's what we will continue to do. That's what we have been doing, that's what we continue to do.

Question:Can I follow up on Sara, please?
Question:Can I ask you a second question, though, on the President's meeting with Ariel Sharon? Last week, the President, standing next to Mahmoud Abbas, said that the wall is a problem, that the settlements must end. Does he seem to -- it seems he's backing off on that today.
Mr. McClellan: I don't think he did at all. He continues to express his concerns about it. In fact, he said that one day, when we can end terrorism and dismantle terrorist organizations, there won't even be a need for a security fence.

Mr. McClellan: Les.
Question:While the president said that Israel's border wall or fence, which is now 85 miles long, is, quote, "unhelpful," the U.S. Border Patrol said yesterday that there are 68 miles of our Mexican border that are also fenced or walled. My question, first of two: will the president, as an example to Israel, order that the Mexican border walls be removed, or does he recognize -- (laughter) -- the deep concern of Texans, New Mexicans, Arizonans, and Californians about the millions of illegal aliens that keep crossing there?
Mr. McClellan: Well -- well, first, let me -- let me speak to the issue of the Texas-Mexico border, because when the president was governor he made it very clear that he was opposed to building a wall along that border, that walls tend to separate people. And he made his views very clear on that issue as governor. And so that was a view he expressed as governor.
In terms of the security fence in Israel, he's also made concerns known about how, over the long term, that he -- you know, that he hopes that that can end as well, that terrorism will no longer be there, and that the security fence will no longer be needed. But he has continued to make his views known in the meeting earlier today.
Question:Page one of the Washington Times reports "U.S. Reverses Its Position On Hamas: Powell Says Nonviolence Key To New Role." And my question: if this is done, despite Abbas -- total violation of the road map's requirement that Hamas be disarmed, why should al Qaeda not be extended the same olive branch?
Mr. McClellan: I'm sorry, I didn't hear the first part of your question. But --
Question:Well, it --
Mr. McClellan: -- but the road map -- the road map makes very clear that terrorist organizations need to be dismantled. And that's --
Question:He has to disarm Hamas. He has to disarm Hamas. He has not disarmed Hamas.
Mr. McClellan: That is the president's position. But he also made it very clear that Prime Minister Abbas is someone who is committed to peace, someone who is committed to --
Question:Committed!? When!?
Mr. McClellan: -- committed to addressing security situations. They had a good visit about some of these issues.

July 31, 2003 Thursday

Mr. McClellan: Les?
Question:The Palestinian Authority's website quoted Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo as declaring, quote, "Cracking down on Hamas, jihad and Palestinian organizations is not an option at all." And my question -- and I have one follow-up -- since the disarming of terrorist groups like Hamas is a specific requirement of the road map never carried out by Abbas, why are we continuing to send $200 million, and what the New York Times reports may be increased to $1 billion, to the Palestinians --
Mr. McClellan: The president believes that Prime Minister Abbas is committed to improving security in the region, that he is committed to ending terrorism. The road map makes it very clear that we need to dismantle these terrorist organizations and that everybody has responsibilities to do that, including Arab nations in the region. And we are making some progress. There is more to be done, but the security situation has helped improve over recent weeks and since Aqaba. But there's more that we need to focus on, need to get the parties to take -- need to get the parties to take steps to do.
Question:Does the president believe it was right for the Saudi Arabian government not only to harbor, but to provide a car and chauffeur for Idi Amin of Uganda, who murdered at least 200,000 blacks?

August 5, 2003 Tuesday
(Note: Fed in progress from source.)
Question:(In progress) -- Jakarta bombing, does this have the hallmark of al Qaeda? Does it appear that they're going after Americans?
Mr. McClellan: Well, first of all, we condemn -- we strongly condemn this terrorist attack in Jakarta. This is a deplorable attack on innocent civilians, and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and with their families. We fully support President Megawati and her administration in their efforts to fight terror and root out terrorism, and we stand fully prepared to assist in any way possible in bringing those responsible to justice. You know, this is a recent attack, and there's still information being learned at this point. So, we'll let that investigation continue. But we stand prepared to assist in any way possible.
Question:Does that include sending American investigators?
Mr. McClellan: In any way possible. We fully support President Megawati's efforts to fight terror, and we will continue working with her administration and bring those responsible to justice. I think that this terrorist attack on innocent civilians is a reminder that we are still waging a global war on terrorism. And the global coalition remains steadfast in our efforts to pursue terrorists and bring them to justice. We are making important progress in dismantling and disrupting terrorist networks, but the war continues and we will not stop until we have disrupted, dismantled and defeated these terrorist organizations.
Question:On Powell's visit today, can you be any more specific about the issues -- (off mike) -- North Korea --

August 15, 2003 Friday

Mr. McClellan: Nothing expected at this point. Obviously, I'll keep you updated if there's any change.
Question: The Middle East, recent events there with Israelis attacking the Palestinians, is this -- how does the president feel about the end of the . . .
Mr. McClellan: Well, I think the parties are continuing to talk amongst themselves. That's important to continue to have the dialogue. Obviously we spoke out the other day about the recent suicide bombings. And that is a further reminder that everybody has a responsibility to end terrorism and to dismantle the terrorist organizations. And the president's message is very clear in that regard. We all have responsibilities to act to end terrorism.
Obviously we've always said that Israel has the right to defend herself. And it's important for all parties, for Israel, the Palestinians, the Arab nations, to keep in mind the consequences of all those actions.
Question: Thank you, Scott.

August 20, 2003 Wednesday


Mr. McClellan: Today the president began the day with a phone call to Prime Minister Sharon. The president offered his condolences to the families of those killed and said our thoughts and prayers are with the families and those who were injured. The president strongly condemned the vicious attack on innocent civilians and the two leaders said that this latest attack in Jerusalem only reinforced the need to crack down on terrorists and terrorist infrastructure. They agreed that the way forward to peace is through the dismantlement of terrorist organizations.

Question: Scott, Sharon's office put out a statement saying that the president said, quote, "There can be no compromise with terrorism and it is necessary to wipe out the terrorist organizations, kill the innocent and destroy the peace process." Is that an accurate characterization?
Mr. McClellan: Well, I think the president's message is very clear.
Mr. McClellan: We continue to call on the Palestinian Authority to dismantle terrorist organizations. The Middle East peace process is something we remain fully committed to and fully engaged in. We are fully committed to the vision of two states living side by side in peace and security. And the way forward to achieve that vision is the dismantlement of terrorist organizations.

So we are continuing to work to keep the process moving forward, but the only way we can continue to move forward is for all parties to take the responsibility of dismantling terrorist organizations seriously and acting on it. And so we continue to call on the Palestinian Authority to act to dismantle terrorist organizations.

Question: Scott, the Israelis are right now considering how to respond, possibly militarily, to the bus attack. What is your message to them? Do they need to show restraint?
Mr. McClellan: Well, that's why we're in close contact with the parties in the region. That's why Ambassador Wolf is meeting with the parties and talking this through. I've seen different reports about news reports from the Palestinian Authority. I think we need to let those conversations take place. But we've made it very clear that what needs to happen is the dismantlement of terrorist organizations. The Palestinian Authority needs to act to dismantle these terrorist organizations. That's the way forward. That's how we get to two states living side-by-side -- two states, Israelis and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security.
Question: But, Scott, so should Israel respond? Or does Israel have a right to respond in this case?
Mr. McClellan: We've always said Israel has a right to defend itself. This was a vicious attack on innocent civilians yesterday. You saw the images.
But it's important for all the parties to continue talking about the way forward. And the way forward is dismantling terrorist organizations.

Mr. McClellan: I think that that view, that we should just sit back and do nothing, is just totally off base. What you're seeing is that we're making progress. And in response to that progress, you're seeing the desperation of terrorists who are carrying out or trying to carry out vicious attacks. That's why we are remaining on the offensive. That's why our military is on the hunt in Iraq, going after the remnants of the former regime, going after those foreign terrorists that are coming into the country and eliminating this threat. It's a lot better that we eliminate it abroad than we have to confront it at home before it's -- after the fact.
Question: Scott, you said that we are continuing to ask the Palestinian Authority to dismantle terrorist organizations. We've been making that request or that demand since Aqaba and before. Doesn't yesterday's bombing suggest that some new approach, some more pressure is necessary?
Mr. McClellan: I think it suggests -- and you've heard some comment from the Palestinian Authority today, and I'm sure you'll continue to hear more comment from them -- we've made some significant progress since Aqaba. And that's why -- again, this goes to terrorism. And when progress is made, terrorists get desperate and you see them take this course of action or try to take this course of action. But we've said, all along, that you can't just allow these organizations to -- you have to dismantle these terrorist organizations. You have to go after the terrorists and you have to dismantle their infrastructure. That's what this is about, and it reinforces what we've been saying for a long time now.

Question: Scott, can you run down what these environmental events he's doing tomorrow and Friday are?
Mr. McClellan: Anybody else have anything else first? I'll do that for the last question.
Question: It's been a couple of rounds now, but I want to follow-up with Judy's question. Sharon's office also said that Sharon told the president that the Palestinian Authority is doing nothing to crack down on terrorism. Does the president agree with that?
Mr. McClellan: I'm sorry. Been told . . .
Question: Sharon told the president that the Palestinians are doing nothing to crack down on terrorism. Does the president share that view? Does he have concerns about the . . .
Mr. McClellan: Well, I think you've heard the president previously say that steps have been taken to help reduce violence in the region. But there is more to do. The Palestinian Authority must act to dismantle terrorist organizations. This shows -- this most recent attack shows exactly what we've been saying, that you have to dismantle terrorist organizations. You can't just continue to let them exist. You have to dismantle them.

August 22, 2003 Friday

Question: Where does the power go? Is it mostly Washington, Idaho, Montana?
Senior Administration Official: Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon.
Mr. McClellan: We need to wrap this up. I do want to mention one more point on the Middle East, which I made yesterday, as well. Remember, the foundation for moving forward on the peace process is the dismantlement of terrorist organizations, the dismantlement of the terrorist infrastructure.
All parties have a responsibility to do everything they can to end terrorism. And I can't emphasize that point enough, that if we are going to move forward -- continue moving forward on the peace process, terrorism must end, and people must act to dismantle terrorist organizations. Question: So are you going to urge Israel to have restraint?
Mr. McClellan: Again, I think we have addressed it. What we're urging is the parties to get back together and talk, and work together to resolve these matters so that we can continue moving forward on the peace process.

September 3, 2003 Wednesday

Question:But just to be clear, he'd rather wait for the '04 budget to deal with some --
Mr. McClellan: We're going to continue working closely with Congress and move forward on -- the president's been -- on the president's request to expand AmeriCorps. So --
Question:Overnight it was reported that Yasser Arafat declared that the road map is dead and that Israel killed it. Would you comment on that, please?
Mr. McClellan: Yeah. The -- you know, I think that, one, we remain fully engaged in our efforts to move toward the two-state vision of Palestine and Israel living side by side in peace and security. And I think that the parties remain committed to that effort. We continue to work closely with them on our efforts.
What needs to happen is that we need to continue to fight the terrorists, continue to dismantle the terrorist organizations. There needs to be a consolidation of the security forces within Palestine. This is about a better future for the Israeli people, about achieving the aspirations of the Palestinian people. And there is a commitment from the parties to move forward on that effort, and we are going to remain closely engaged with them in those efforts.

September 4, 2003 Thursday

Question:Some have said that the White House's refusal to, "make Arafat a part of the equation," is hurting the effort there.
Mr. McClellan: Again, we're working with those who are committed to advancing the road map. And Prime Minister Abbas, Prime Minister Sharon are committed to working on -- or moving forward on the road map. Yasser Arafat has not played a helpful role in moving forward on the road map. What our focus is is to continue working with the parties so that they meet the obligations. At the top of that list is the dismantlement of terrorist organizations. And it's important for there to be a unified security structure under Prime Minister Abbas' leadership.

October 6, 2003 Monday

Mr. McClellan: Good afternoon. I have no opening statements or remarks, so I'll jump right into questions.
Question:Scott, the Israeli raid into Syria, is that consistent with the U.S. doctrine of preemptive strike, to attack terrorists in countries that harbor them? And will the U.S. veto the U.N. resolution that Syria's seeking?

Mr. McClellan: On the first part of your question, one, the president talked a little bit about this earlier today, but we've always said that Israel has the right to defend herself but that Israel should also take into account the consequences of any actions they may take. We've also made it clear to Syria and Israel that they should avoid doing anything that would escalate the situation or heighten tensions in the region. We -- you know, the terrorist attack that took place over the weekend is just another reminder of the need for a Palestinian Authority that will work to dismantle terrorist organizations. That is the way forward on the president's two-state vision that he outlined on June 24th.
Question:On the U.N. resolution, will the U.S. veto that?
Mr. McClellan: Well, I think that it's important that, if you're talking about anything at the U.N. level, one, those discussions are ongoing, so I'll let those discussions take place there. But it's important for the international community to stand together in condemning terrorist attacks that are carried out against innocent men, women and children, and that's exactly what took place in Haifa over the weekend. This vicious attack led to the death of innocent men, women and even children, and it was a horrific attack, and those attacks must be stopped. And everybody has a responsibility to fight terrorism. And I think it's important that the international community speak out against such attacks as well.

Mr. McClellan: But let me remind you that all parties have responsibilities when it comes to implementing the road map. We have certainly gone through a difficult period here, and the way to move forward toward this two-state vision is for all parties to crack down on terrorism and for the Palestinian Authority to be empowered -- a cabinet and a prime minister that is empowered to crack down on terrorism, to dismantle terrorist organizations.
Question:Scott, does the United States share the assessment that the target in Syria was a terrorist camp?
Mr. McClellan: Well, that's our understanding from the Israeli government. They have said that publicly; that this was a terrorist camp that they struck in Syria, and that's what we know.

Mr. McClellan: You heard the remarks from the president. We continue to urge parties not to take steps that would heighten tensions in the region. That's what we will continue to emphasize, particularly at this point in time. But again, let's not lose sight of what happened over the weekend in Haifa. That was a horrific attack on innocent men, women and children. And terrorism must not be allowed to stand. There needs to be action taken to dismantle terrorist organizations so that we can move forward on the road map, so that we can get back to the road map and move forward to the two-state vision that will be beneficial to both Israelis and the Palestinian people. It will be a brighter future for everyone.

Mr. McClellan: I've made it clear that we've made our views known on all those issues -- on settlement activity, on the fence; we've made our concerns known. We continue to discuss those issues with the government of Israel as we move forward, and remind everybody that they all have responsibilities. But again, let's not lose sight of what needs to happen. What needs to happen so that we can move forward on the two-state vision is for the Palestinian Authority to empower its cabinet to crackdown on terrorism, to have a unified security force under its command, and then to go after the terrorist organizations and dismantle them. It's those terrorists that are the enemies of a two-state vision, that are enemies of two states living side by side in peace. That's why we continue to emphasize the need to dismantle those terrorist organizations.

Question:That's what I was trying to find out; what are those consequences?
Mr. McClellan: I think they know very well what the consequences are. And we're trying to work with all the parties to get back to the road map. We're in a difficult phase now. But the way to get back to that is for the Palestinian Cabinet to crack down on terrorism, and that's the way forward.
Mr. McClellan: What we're pushing for at this time is an end to terrorism. What we're pushing for is for all parties to remember their responsibilities. And the first and foremost responsibility is to end terrorism. Terrorists do not want to see two states living side by side in peace and security. They are trying to stop this process from moving forward. And we need to go after those terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure so that they can't continue to do that.

October 7, 2003 Tuesday

Mr. McClellan: Jesus, yeah.
Question:Yes, a follow-up on Israel. How does the White House respond to critics around the world that -- (inaudible) -- with the justification of the president to the attack of Israel in Syria, the United States is setting a bad precedent to preemptive attacks to any country with any proofs of terrorism, like Israel did to Syria? How do you respond to this?
Mr. McClellan: Well, I would respond in this way; that, one, everybody needs to work to fight terrorism in the region, particularly the new Palestinian prime minister and cabinet. They need to be empowered so that they can dismantle the terrorist infrastructure. That's the way forward, that's the way to move forward on the two- state vision that the president outlined. We've also said that Israel certainly has a right to defend herself, but that they should keep in mind the consequences of the actions that they take. But let's keep in mind that there was a vicious attack on innocent men, women and children in Haifa over the weekend. Some 19 men, women and children were killed, innocent men, women and children, and a number more were injured. So that's -- that's what we continue to say.
Question:Do you think the road map is alive?
Mr. McClellan: We remain committed to the road map. We made some progress on it after Aqaba. We said some -- we always said that there would be difficulties along the way. We have been in a difficult period. But it's important to remind all parties that they have responsibilities under this road map, and one of the first and foremost responsibilities is to fight terrorism.

October 8, 2003 Wednesday

Question:Thank you.
What is the White House assessment on the health condition of Yasser Arafat? And is the United States helping Israel dismantle any of these terrorist networks in --
Mr. McClellan: I've seen the reports, but I don't know anything more beyond that. I've seen conflicting reports out of the region.
Question:Is the U.S. helping Israel at all in dismantling the terrorist network inside the West bank and wherever?
Mr. McClellan: I'm sorry?
Question:Is the U.S. helping Israel in any way regarding the terrorist situation?
Mr. McClellan: Well, what we're urging is for the Palestinians, through their cabinet, to take steps to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure. All parties have a responsibility to fight terrorism, and those responsibilities -- that includes the Palestinians. They have a responsibility to work to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure. That is the way forward on the two-state vision, two states living side by side in peace and security. It will benefit the Israelis, it will benefit the Palestinians, and it will lead to a broader and safer and more peaceful future for everyone.
Question:But it's not going beyond just urging. Mr. McClellan: Again, I think I just addressed it.

October 15, 2003 Wednesday

Question: What does it mean for the peace process, then?
Mr. McClellan: Again, I think if you look at -- if you look at the statement, again, there needs to be a unified security force under the Palestinian prime minister and a cabinet that is committed to dismantling the terrorist infrastructure. That is the way forward to the two-state vision outlined by the president on June 24th of a year ago.
Question: Apparently, there's a dispute between the Prime Minister and Yasser Arafat over control of security forces.
Mr. McClellan: We continue to urge the Palestinians to unify those security forces under a Prime Minister who is empowered and committed to cracking down on terrorism.
Question: Does he blame the Palestinian leadership for this . . .
Mr. McClellan: Well, you have in his statement what the president says, that the Palestinian Authority should have acted long ago to fight terror in all its forms, and the failure to create effective Palestinian security forces dedicated to fighting terror continues to cost lives. All parties have a responsibility to fight terrorism, and all parties need to take steps to work together to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure.
Question: Does the Palestinian leadership bear some of the blame? Does the Palestinian leadership bear some of the blame?
Mr. McClellan: The failure to crack down on terrorism and dismantle the terrorist infrastructure continues to cost lives. And that's why we continue to urge Palestinian authorities to unify their security forces under a Prime Minister who is committed to and empowered to fighting terrorism.

October 22, 2003 Wednesday

Question: And you were talking about how positive you felt about Prime Minister Abbas and the fact that you thought that things would be able to move forward.
Mr. Bush: And they did move forward, for a while.
Question: I wonder if you could reflect on how you felt since -- during the fact that the man you put confidence in and hope in is gone.
Mr. Bush: I was disappointed that Arafat shoved him out of the way. I just -- it was an unfortunate decision, because it stopped good progress toward a Palestinian state. And when the Palestinian Authority comes up with a leader who is willing to genuinely fight and dismantle terrorist organizations, the process will pick up where it left off, and move forward.
Question: Are you confident of that?
Mr. Bush: I hope it does. I think eventually it will. You've got to be patient in foreign policy sometimes.
Question: Is there anything more the United States can do on that, or is the road map -- once they get on track on the road map, then things will come back and move forward again?
Mr. Bush: The road map is still there. And we just need leadership willing to stand up and say, we're going to prevent the few from -- from letting the process move forward. And that's what they're doing. There are a few people there that don't want a Palestinian state, they've got different ambitions. And we've just got to fight them off.

December 18, 2003 Thursday

Mr. McClellan: Good afternoon.
Question:Well, let's be clear here, Scott. I mean, the president believes that if Sharon makes good on this pledge to essentially cut Israel off from the Palestinians, he believes that that would not be consistent with the ideals of the road map, is that fair?
Mr. McClellan: Well, I think I just addressed where we are, and that he reiterated his commitment to moving forward on the road map. Remember, under the road map, Palestinians must reform their political institutions, unify their security services, and have an empowered prime minister and fight terrorism and dismantle terrorist organizations. The president has repeatedly said that the Palestinians need to take steps, firm steps against terror. Now -- and under the road map, Israel must undertake a settlement freeze and eliminate unauthorized outposts. We're pleased that the prime minister flatly stated that unauthorized outposts will be dismantled, period. Those were -- those weren't his words.
Question: Scott, you're cherry-picking what you want to hear. I mean --
Mr. McClellan: I think you're cherry-picking. (Laughs.)

Question: And Jerusalem -- is it still your opinion that Jerusalem is a final status issue?
Mr. McClellan: Well, the road map spells out all those details. I mean, first and foremost, the president has talked about the need for the Palestinians -- for a new Palestinian leadership to take steps to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure. It's also important for Israeli -- Israel to recognize they have steps to take. And I think Prime Minister Sharon talked about some of that today. And we're pleased with a number of things that he said in his remarks, particularly his commitment to moving forward on the road map.

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Is Hamas Preparing to Inherit The Palestinian Authority?
Jonathan D. HaLevi
Researcher of the Middle East and Islam.

There is growing evidence that Fatah, the Palestinian faction that today dominates the PLO, may not remain the power center of Palestinian politics in the post-Arafat era. Hamas is preparing itself to inherit the Palestinian Authority.

At the Cairo talks in December 2003, for the first time, Hamas openly and confidently challenged the basic Palestinian view that the PLO is the sole and exclusive representative of the Palestinian people. Hamas demanded partnership status in the adoption of all decisions. It also used the Cairo talks in order to achieve recognition from Egypt and other Arab states. In this spirit, it insisted that the U.S. remove it from the list of recognized terrorist organizations.

The erosion in the PLO's standing was accelerated by the establishment of the supreme coordinating framework known as the "National and Islamic Forces" at the onset of the intifada, with Arafat's approval. This body has become the PLO's rival, since it is the sole body that includes all the Islamic organizations and secular groups.

Hamas has established its own "army" in the Gaza Strip as a source of power and strength in opposition to the Palestinian Authority, in the understanding that the force that controls the Strip is the one that will actually succeed the Palestinian Authority.

Any scenarios for the future that do not take into account the possibility of a Hamas takeover of the Palestinian political system are seriously deficient.

Who Will Inherit the Palestinian Authority in the Post-Arafat Era? There is no question that there is a crisis of leadership in the Palestinian political system as it approaches the post-Arafat era. The struggle for succession has already begun, even while Yassir Arafat still controls the Palestinian Authority from Ramallah. Some in the international community foresee a new generation of Fatah leaders, some of whom have been involved in recent back-channel peace initiatives, coming forward and replacing the old revolutionary guard that established the PLO in the 1960s. Yet there is growing evidence that Fatah may not remain the power center of Palestinian politics. From current indications it appears that Hamas is preparing itself to inherit the Palestinian Authority. Any scenario projected for the future that does not take this into account will be seriously flawed.

At the Herzliya conference in December 2003, a team of researchers and security personnel (former and current), lead by Dr. Shmuel Bar, presented a special report analyzing the political situation in the areas of the Palestinian Authority and possible scenarios for the post-Arafat era. The report emphasized the gradual decline of the generation associated with the old Fatah leadership, epitomized by Arafat's expected disappearance, and the increased strength of the younger generation in Fatah, together with the continued empowerment of Hamas as an alternative to the existing government.

The prevailing assessment among the members of the team was that "ultimately the Palestinians will succeed in installing a new leadership which, while representing the political front, will not have actual control over Palestinian areas." In other words, the regional division of power inside the PA is confirmed: "The process of the division of the Palestinian Authority into regions of control will be accelerated, and a new strata of regional leaders will emerge who will confer legitimacy to the new leadership."1

The central presumptions and assessments of the research team relate to the disintegration of the Palestinian governmental system, a process that has intensified during the last three years of armed violence that was initiated by the Palestinian Authority in September 2000. The most important development, however, extends beyond the weakening of the Palestinian Authority both politically and militarily in the wake of the conflict with Israel. The Palestine Liberation Organization, the source of authority for the Palestinian Authority itself, now confronts the gravest challenge to its position since the beginning of the 1980s. This challenge is the result of a change in the balance of power in the Palestinian political map due to the increasing entrenchment of the Islamic stream headed by the Hamas, that has systematically encroached on the power of the nationalist stream, headed by the Fatah movement.

Hamas' Challenge to the PLO at the Cairo Talks

The latest round of talks among the Palestinian factions in Cairo (at the beginning of December 2003) focused on an attempt to conclude an agreement on a ceasefire (hudna) with Israel. These talks failed, thus exposing the depth of the crisis on the Palestinian political front. For the first time, the Hamas movement openly and confidently challenged the basic Palestinian view that the PLO is the sole and exclusive representative of the Palestinian people. Hamas unabashedly demanded partnership status in the adoption of all decisions in a manner reflecting its political strength, thus undermining the current political status quo. According to Hamas, the PLO is no longer the appropriate organizational framework for leading the continued Palestinian struggle. Hamas believes a new, unified, Palestinian leadership (emergency, temporary, or permanent) should be established to replace the PLO as the supreme source of authority for the Palestinian people.2

Already in 2002, in an internal Hamas memorandum captured by Israel, Khaled Mashaal, the head of the Hamas political bureau, noted that senior officials in Cairo were giving a Hamas delegation a reception that was "grander than in the past."3 The Hamas memorandum assessed that the Egyptians understood that the Palestinian Authority was weak and Palestinian support for the PA was "waning." It contains a distinct tone of a growing sense of power among the Hamas leadership as it seeks to fill the power vacuum left by Fatah.

Thus, from the position of a political body that was not part of the PLO and which competed with Fatah, Hamas has emerged as a key player in the Palestinian leadership, exercising "veto power" over all key decisions, and demanding the lion's share of the Palestinian leadership, while presenting itself as a possible alternative to the existing Palestinian leadership.

This was the basis for Hamas' rejection of the Palestinian Authority's request, raised in the Cairo hudna deliberations, for authorization to negotiate with Israel regarding a ceasefire. Inter alia, Hamas claimed that the Palestinian Authority no longer functions as an effective government in view of the current political and military situation. As a tactical step, Hamas did not categorically reject the option of joining the PLO. Instead, it posited impossible conditions for such a move, the most important of which was the conducting of new elections for PLO institutions, and the adoption of an amendment to the organization's charter in the spirit of the Hamas movement's principles, i.e., rejection of the path of negotiations and advocacy of continued armed struggle for the liberation of Palestine.4

It is noteworthy that during the December 2003 hudna talks, Hamas made demands that demonstrate its self-image as a future player in the international politics of the Middle East:5

  • Removal of Hamas from the U.S. and European Union lists of recognized international terrorist organizations
  • Permission for Hamas to operate overseas
  • Cessation of all international measures against Hamas charity groups abroad
  • Recognition of Hamas as the main power center in the Palestinian arena

The decision of a member of the Hamas political bureau, Mohammed Nazal, to call for U.S.-Hamas contacts in January 2004 is indicative of how Hamas sees its new international role.6

The "National and Islamic Forces" as a Rival to the PLO

The erosion in the PLO's standing was further accelerated by the establishment of the supreme coordinating framework known as the "National and Islamic Forces" at the onset of the intifada, with Arafat's approval. This body, comprising the 13 most important Palestinian factions, had its own command structure and insignia. In the West Bank it was led by Marwan Barghouti. Over time it has become the PLO's rival as the source of legitimacy, since it is the sole body that confers equal representation (one representative for each organization) and includes all the Islamic organizations and secular groups. The frequently changing fortunes of the intifada necessitated the adoption of decisions at a national level (on policies governing attacks, responses to Israeli action, international pressure, friction between the organizations, etc.) and converted the "National and Islamic Forces" into an accepted and legitimate framework for deliberation on fundamental issues.

The foremost achievement of the "National and Islamic Forces" was its formulation of the "Gaza Document" in August 2002, stipulating guidelines for the reorganization of the Palestinian civil structure, and which still serves as the basis for factional deliberations today. The document determined the basis for a settlement as:

  • Full withdrawal to the 1967 borders and exercise of the right of return; the legitimacy of continued armed struggle for the realization of Palestinian rights;
  • The urgent need to establish a temporary "United National Leadership" to "strengthen the source of united authority" in the adoption of decisions;
  • Ongoing activity and struggle until the holding of general and "democratic" elections to the Palestinian institutions.7

How Hamas Has Strengthened Its Standing

Hamas is attempting to strengthen its standing within the Palestinian public as a legitimate contender for power in the following arenas:

A renewed emphasis on Hamas' connection to its forerunner, the Muslim Brotherhood, in order to gain a "softer" Islamic image. For example, the Egyptian political establishment has reached a modus vivendi with the Muslim Brotherhood in that country, which would allow Hamas to gain increased regional acceptance if it invoked these roots.8 Presentation of a political program in competition with that of the Palestinian Authority, based on a readiness to accept the principle of "stages" for the solution of the Palestinian problem (similar to the PLO's "stages" program adopted in 1974) and to agree to the establishment of a temporary Palestinian state within the pre-1967 territory.9 Continued social and public activity (Daawa) competing with the Palestinian Authority in the provision of services to the public. Hamas was the first to organize an assistance package and donations to families whose houses were damaged by the IDF in Rafiah. Hamas went even further on Christmas Eve 2003 when movement activists dressed up as Santa Claus distributed presents to Christian children in Bethlehem.10 The establishment of the "Hamas Army" in the Gaza Strip as a source of power and strength in opposition to the Palestinian Authority, and as a legitimate national military force protecting the borders of PA territory. Already Hamas is copying the relationship of Hizballah to the Lebanese government as it fashions its approach to the Palestinian Authority. But while Hizballah, representing Lebanese Shiites, could never replace the regime in Beirut, which represents all religious factions, Hamas could replace the Palestinian Authority, which is based on a Palestinian Sunni Muslim leadership.11 Hamas has concentrated its activities in the Gaza Strip in the understanding that the political force that controls the Strip is the one that will actually succeed the Palestinian Authority.12

The strengthening of Hamas and its challenge to the Palestinian Authority has occurred against the background of a number of important developments:

The Fatah movement, which currently leads the PLO, is in a state of chronic internal crisis, one of the gravest in its history, and one which may actually lead to a split. Its main problems are: loss of direction against the background of the failure of the Oslo process, an ideological impasse, lack of popular support due to the PLO's identification as the ruling party and as part of a corrupt governmental network, Arafat's divide-and-rule policy which crippled the authority of the old leadership and forestalled the emergence of any new leadership with legitimacy - both inside the territories and outside, the distancing of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades from the political leadership of the movement, and the adoption of a political line closer to that of Hamas.13 Many regard the Palestinian Authority as nothing more than an employment bureau that has gradually lost its authority and legitimacy in the eyes of the Palestinian public. The Palestinian security frameworks are weak and have difficulty enforcing their authority over armed militias who rule by force of arms over various localities in the Palestinian Authority (Jenin, Nablus, Rafiah, some of the refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza, and elsewhere).14 Arafat's weakness, his isolation, and increasing criticism within Fatah of his political behavior will all impact on the post-Arafat period. Arafat's descent from the political stage, without an organized mechanism for the smooth transfer of Palestinian governance (apart from a temporary period during which the chairman of the parliament is to serve as the "Rais"), is liable to lead to governmental chaos and domination by radical factors in different regions.15

Can Fatah Reform Itself?

Against the background of the Hamas challenge to the existing order, there is growing interest within Fatah in the prompt implementation of internal systemic reforms (elections to the movement's institutions) and the conducting of elections to the legislative council and the presidency, as listed in the second stage of the implementation of the "roadmap."16 The goal is the rehabilitation of the movement and the prevention of a split, accompanied by the renewal of public legitimacy for the Palestinian Authority as an essential element in the preservation of the dominance of Fatah as the governing party, and in order to guarantee a smooth transfer of power, without dangerous upheavals, in the post-Arafat era. The political atmosphere in the region (including Iraq) and the economic situation in the Palestinian Authority are liable to have conclusive ramifications in the formulation of Palestinian public opinion in the next elections. ?

4. Ibid.
5. al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), December 22, 2003.
6. "Hamas 'Contacts' with U.S. Officials," The Australian, January 6, 2004;,5744,8333016%255E1702,00.html
12. The Hamas leaders no longer conceal their striving to be the dominant power and their confidence in Hamas' capability to achieve this goal. Abd Al-Aziz Rantisi, a senior Hamas leader, said in an interview (November 2003): "I emphasize that the Hamas movement will strive to take control of the (Palestinian) regime through legitimate means . . . after the liberation of the homeland is accomplished."
16. See Abd Al-Aziz Shaheen's interview on reforms in the Fatah movement in al-Hayat al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), December 29, 2003.

Lt. Col. Jonathan D. Halevi is a researcher of the Middle East and radical Islam. His previous writings include "Al-Qaeda's Intellectual Legacy: New Radical Islamic Thinking Justifying the Genocide of Infidels," Jerusalem Viewpoints #508 (December 1, 2003), "Who is Taking Credit for Attacks on the U.S. Army in Western Iraq? Al-Jama'a al-Salafiya al-Mujahida," Jerusalem Issue Brief #3-3 (August 5, 2003), and "Understanding the Breakdown of Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations," Jerusalem Viewpoints #486 (September 15, 2002). The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the IDF.

Dore Gold, Publisher;
Lenny Ben-David, ICA Program Director;
Mark Ami-El, Managing Editor. Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (Registered Amuta), 13 Tel-Hai St., Jerusalem, Israel; Tel. 972-2-5619281, Fax. 972-2-5619112, Email:
In U.S.A.: Center for Jewish Community Studies, 5800 Park Heights Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21215 USA, Tel. (410) 664-5222; Fax. (410) 664-1228.

© Copyright. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the Board of Fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

The Institute for Contemporary Affairs (ICA) is dedicated to providing a forum for Israeli policy discussion and debate.

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Reprinted from The Jerusalem Issue Brief 7/1/04

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U.S. Diplomat Equates Stopping Settlement Activity with Stopping Terrorism
Saul Hudson

Washington,DC (Reuters) - A senior U.S. Middle East diplomat said on Monday Israel "must stop" building settlements and told Palestinian leaders to rein in militant attacks to revive a U.S.-backed peace plan based on two states.

David Satterfield, deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, said Israel should also rethink the barrier it is building in the West Bank following threats from both sides that could sink the "road map" plan.

The diplomat put more emphasis on concessions from Israel than top U.S. officials -- including Secretary of State Colin Powell -- have in recent weeks.

"For friends of Israel, the conclusion is hard to escape, settlement activity must stop because it ultimately undermines Israeli as well as Palestinian interests," Satterfield said in a speech to a conference on the Arab-Israeli War in 1967.

The barrier's route was also "a significant problem . . . and, like settlement activity itself, takes everyone further from the comfort and trust necessary to achieve the (U.S.) president's vision of two states," Satterfield said.

While he was reiterating U.S. policy, the public comments were meant to pressure Israel, whose biggest ally is the United States, analyst Richard Fairbanks of the think-tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said.

"The fact he said it out loud is important because it is sending a signal," Fairbanks said.

Suicide Bombers

Israel has threatened a unilateral separation along the line of a wall snaking through the West Bank that it says is to keep out suicide bombers. Palestinians call it a bid to annex or fragment occupied land and have warned they could respond by demanding a single bi-national state.

Satterfield, who was in Jerusalem in December to mediate.

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Official PBC "Voice of Palestine" Radio Blesses Woman Suicide Bomber
Michael Widlanski
Specialist, PA Arabic language media

In an unprecedented show of support for a human bomb attack, Yasser Arafat's official radio greeted with elation the news of latest suicide assault in the Gaza Strip

"Citizen Rim al-Riyashi was heroically martyred when she carried out an explosive operation at the Beit Hanoun Junction , killing four soldiers of the Occupation," declared Voice of Palestine Radio in its 4-PM newscast, about an hour after the attack in the Gaza Strip.

The style of the news item, which opened the afternoon news round-up, was more like a birthday greeting than a regular news report, stressing the woman's identity and "heroic martyrdom" (Arabic: istish-haad) repeatedly.

There was no mention that she was a member of the Islamic terror group known as HAMAS (Haraka al-Muqawwima al-Islamiyya: Islamic Resistance Front).

Arafat's V.O.P. radio said Israel was to blame for the attack, and it offered no condemnation for the assault at the Gaza crossing point which also serves as a place of employment and access into Israel for Palestinian laborers.

Michael Widlanski, who teaches at the Hebrew Unviersity's Rothberg School, is a former reporter for The New York Times, The Cox Newspapers, and The Boston Globe. He recently completed his doctoral dissertation on the political role of the Palestinian mass media.

This ran on the IMRA wire at on January 14, 2004

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USAID Extorts Palestinian NGO's

(IPC Exclusive)[Official PA website]-

[IMRA commentary: Mr. Asour makes clear once again that reams of documents signed at photo opportunities proclaiming Palestinian renunciation or objection to "terror" are meaningless since, as this PA official himself notes, when it comes to Palestinian actions against Israel it isn't "terror".]

GAZA, Palestine, January 14, 2004

Hassan Asfour, Head of the Palestinian Authority for NGOs Affairs, regarded the latest United States Agency for Development (USAID) document as an extension of the United States policy concerning the Palestinian people, attempting to extort the Palestinians for political reasons.

Asfour's remarks came in a press conference held in the State Information Service's International Press Center in Gaza, on an official U.S State Department document, outlining the USAID's policy for development worldwide.

The document is said to be considering a number of Palestinian bodies including the Palestine Liberation Organization and other Palestinian factions as terrorists, accusing some of Palestinian NGOs of fundraising 'terrorist actions'.

It also connects financial assistance to any Palestinian NGO with noninvolvement in any actions referred to in the items of the document.

Asfour called upon all Palestinian NGOs that signed the USAID document to reverse their acceptance to such 'U.S extortion', given the ad-hoc situation of the Palestinian people under the Israeli occupation.

He laid out a number of recommendations for the Palestinian NGOs to develop community service in the Palestinian cities, towns, refugee camps and villages, away from any outside extortion (USAID document).

Along with Mr. Asfour, Abdel-AZiz Abu Qaraya, member of the Palestinian Network of NGOs, voiced his rejection to the said document, stressing that the document can never be applied on the Palestinian people, who are living under the occupation, and at the same time have the right to resist.

Abu Qaraya, confirmed that representatives of his network met with their counterparts of the USAID, to convey their dissatisfaction to the document. He asserted that the USAID promised to report the networks' reservations to the U.S State Department.

USAID had recently issued a document, outlining its own fundraising conditions worldwide, including non-affiliation with 'terrorist groups'. It also labeled the Palestinian people resistance of the Israeli occupation forces as 'terrorism'.

Such an official U.S development agency has so far executed several projects throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories, related mainly to infrastructure.

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A Review of :"The Oslo War: A Tale of Self-Delusion", by Dr Efraim Karsh
Dr. Joseph Lerner, Co-Director IMRA

BESA BULLETIN ,October 2003, No.16

Quote from Text:

"Peres: 'We close our eyes. We don't criticize because, for peace, we must produce a partnere.' "

Full Text:

The ongoing Palestinian war of terror is a direct and inevitable consequence of the 1993 Oslo accords - "the worst blunder in Israel's history". So concludes Prof. Efraim Karsh, head of the Mediterranean Studies Programme at King's College London, in a just-published, special BESA Center (Hebrew) study to mark the tenth anniversary of the Oslo Accords, entitled "The Oslo War: A Tale of Self-Delusion".

Karsh recounts in painful detail the follies of Oslo's architects. "Just over a decade after destroying the PLO's military infrastructure in Lebanon, the Rabin-Peres government asked the Palestinian organization, which was still formally committed to Israel's destruction by virtue of its covenant, to establish a firm political and military presence right on its doorstep. And not only this, it was prepared to arm thousands of (hopefully reformed) terrorists who would be incorporated into newly established police and security forces charged with asserting the PLO's authority throughout the territories", Karsh writes.

In the words of prominent PLO leader Faisal Husseini, Israel was willingly introducing into its midst a "Trojan Horse" designed to promote the PLO's strategic goal of "Palestine from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea" - that is, a Palestine in place of Israel.

Karsh writes that from the moment of Arafat's arrival in Gaza in July 1994, the PLO chieftain set out to build up an extensive terrorist infrastructure in flagrant violation of the Oslo accords. He systematically failed to disarm the terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad as required by the Oslo accords, and tacitly approved the murder of hundreds of Israelis by these groups; created a far larger Palestinian army (the so-called police force) than was permitted by the accords; reconstructed the PLO's old terrorist apparatus, mainly under the auspices of Tanzim, Fatah's military arm; and frantically acquired prohibited weapons through the use of large sums of money donated to the Palestinian Authority by the international community for the benefit of the civilian Palestinian population.

Eventually, Arafat resorted to outright mass violence: first, in September 1996 to publicly discredit the newly-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; and then in September 2000 with the launch of his war of terror -- shortly after being offered by Netanyahu's successor, Ehud Barak, the creation of an independent Palestinian state in 92 percent of the West Bank and 100 percent of the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

According to Karsh, what enabled Arafat to pursue his war preparations with impunity was a combination of international sympathy for his cause and Israeli self-delusion. "Indeed, with the benefit of hindsight, the extent of the Israeli leap of faith in Oslo appears nothing short of mind-boggling. There were no ultimate goals set for the negotiating team, no road map to follow. There were no serious discussions over the direction of the entire process, not even awareness among the negotiators and their superiors of each other's vision of peace".

Karsh quotes Oslo godfather Shimon Peres who said: "I think what is really important for a peace process is the creation of a partner, more than a plan. Because plans don't create partners but if you have a partner then you negotiate a plan". But what if the partner would not act out the role ascribed to him? Peres: "We close our eyes. We don't criticize because, for peace, we must produce a partner."

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