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Elliott Abrams: The Elusive Dream of Mideast Peace

As President Obama heads to Israel this month, many wonder why has there been so little progress toward peace in the last 20 years. Former Bush advisor Elliott Abrams explains. Read Transcript


I'M SHOWING A PICTURE OF THE

HEAD OF THE P.L.A. -- THE

PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY,

HAMAZ, AND THE PRIME

MINISTER OF ISRAEL BEING

HELD TOGETHER IN WHAT LOOKS

LIKE THE OVAL OFFICE BY

GEORGE BUSH.

THE GENTLEMAN WHO WAS BUSH'S

FOREIGN POLICY ADVISOR

DEALING WITH THE MIDDLE

EAST, UNDER SECRETARY OF THE

STATE DEPARTMENT, AND HE IS

ONE OF THE MOST

KNOWLEDGEABLE PEOPLE IN

AMERICA CONCERNING THIS

SITUATION.

AND HE IS HERE WITH US RIGHT

NOW.

WE'RE GOING TO TALK ABOUT

HIS BOOK CALLED "TESTED BY

ZION."

ELLIOT ABRAMS, WE'RE

DELIGHTED TO HAVE YOU WITH

US HERE ON "THE 700 CLUB."

THANK YOU.

IT IS A GREAT PLEASURE TO BE

WITH YOU AGAIN, PAT.

Pat: IN YOUR BOOK,

YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT THE

OBSESSION WITH THE MIDDLE

EAST PEACE PROCESS, AND

YOU'RE SAYING THAT THE

ACTORS AND THE BIG PLAYERS

LOU THROUGHOUT THE MIDDLE

EAST REALLY DON'T PUT THAT

NUMBER ONE ON THEIR AGENDA.

IS THAT A TRUE STATEMENT OF

WHAT YOU SAID?

IT IS A TRUE STATEMENT.

IF YOU TALK TO THE ISRAELIS

OR TO MOST OF THE ARABS,

WHAT THEY'RE WORRIED ABOUT

IS IRAN.

THE PEACE PROCESS IS OFF ON

THE SIDE.

THEY WONDER WHY WE OBSESS

ABOUT IT WHEN THEIR REAL

CONCERN IS IRAN.

Pat: AND SAID ALSO WHEN

OUR DIPLOMATES ARE WORKING

ON THIS AND THE POLITICIANS,

THEY SEEM MORE CONCERNED

ABOUT THE PROCESS AND MORE

CONCERNED ABOUT GETTING SOME

KIND OF SOMETHING ON A PIECE

OF PAPER THAN ACTUAL

PROGRESS ON THE GROUND.

TALK ABOUT THAT?

ABSOLUTELY RIGHT.

EVERYBODY IS LOOKING FOR THE

GREAT HANDSHAKE ON THE WHITE

HOUSE LAWN, IT'S NOBEL PEACE

PRIZE, AND BIG INTERNATIONAL

CONFERENCES.

WHEN, REALLY, WHAT WE OUGHT

TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT IS

SECURITY AND PROSPERITY FOR

PEOPLE LIVING IN ISRAEL AND

LIVING EN THE PALESTINIAN

AREAS.

HOW CAN WE MAKE THEIR LIVES

BETTER?

HOW CAN WE HELP THEM GET

BETTER JOBS, MORE AUTONOMY

AUTONOMY?

INSTEAD OF FOCUSING ON THE

PRAGMATIC THINGS, EVERYBODY

WANTS THAT GREAT CONFERENCE

IN THE SKY.

AND WE MISS A LOT OF

OPPORTUNITIES TO IMPROVE

PEOPLE'S LIVES.

Pat: THIS PICTURE ON

YOUR COVER, YOUR BOOK SHOWS

AERIAL SHARON, BUT HE DID

SOMETHING THAT I THOUGHT WAS

A BIG MISTAKE WHEN HE GAVE

AWAY SOME LAND.

WHAT'S YOUR POINT OF VIEW?

VERY CONTROVERSIAL.

HE DID THAT AS A GENERAL,

THINKING 1500 ISRAELIS IN

THE MIDDLE OF A MILLION AND

A HALF PALESTINIANS WAS A

HUGE STRAIN ON THE ISRAEL

ARMY FOREVER.

MANY GENERALS THINK HIS REAL

MISTAKE WAS NOT IN GETTING

OUT OF THE SETTLEMENTS IN

GAZA, BUT IN GETTING OUT

WHAT IS CALLED THE

PHILADELPHIA STRIP, THAT

DIVIDES GAZA FROM SINAI

BECAUSE THAT'S THE GROUP

THAT ALL OF THE WEAPONS COME

FROM IRAN TO HAMAS.

A LOT OF GENERALS THINK IF

HE KEPT THAT STRIP, HE WOULD

HAVE BEEN PROTECTING

ISRAEL'S SECURITY BETTER.

Pat: IT IS AMAZING,

HAMAS HAS MOVED INTO THAT

AREA, FILLED TO VACUUM, SO

TO SPEAK, AND THEY'RE

LAUNCHING MISSILES ON AN

ALMOST DAILY BASIS INTO

THOSE ISRAELI TERRITORIES.

THEY ARE.

AND THE ISRAELIS CALL THAT

GAZA HAMASTAN.

I THINK THE LESSON FOR

ISRAEL IS ON THE JORDAN AND

THE JORDAN VALLEY.

IF THEY EVER ABANDON THE

JORDAN RIVER AND THE JORDAN

VALLEY, YOU REALLY HAVE TO

WORRY ABOUT THEIR SECURITY.

AND I THINK A LOT OF THEM

BELIEVE THAT.

Pat: WHAT ABOUT THE

FUTURE?

YOU KNOW, IT WAS PROPOSED

SOME TIME AGO THAT REALLY

THE OLD DAYS, THOSE

SO-CALLED PALESTINIANS HAD

JORDANIAN PASSPORTS, AND

MAYBE LETTING THAT PART OF

THE TERRITORY, THE WEST

BANK, COME ON CONTROL OF

JORDAN.

WOULD THAT BE A GOOD

SOLUTION?

YOU KNOW, AS YOU KNOW, AT

THE VERY END OF THE BOOK, I

SAY I THINK WE HAVE TO THINK

ABOUT THERE SOLUTION.

BECAUSE IF YOU EVER HAD AN

INDEPENDENT PALESTINIAN

STATE, IT IS NATURAL THEY

WOULD IMMEDIATELY TURN TO

JORDAN FOR POLITICS,

COMMERCIALLY, AND FOR AIR

TRAVEL, AND THE LINKS

BETWEEN THEM AND JORDAN

WOULD GROW AND GROW.

THE PALESTINIANS WOULD

REALLY NEED TO BE JORDANIAN

ARMYS FOR SECURITY.

IT IS NOT POPULAR TO TALK

ABOUT THAT, BUT I'M GLAD YOU

RAISED IT BECAUSE IT IS THE

NATURAL EVOLUTION.

AS ONE PALESTINIAN ONCE SAID

TO ME, WE NEED TO HAVE A

PALESTINIAN STATE FOR 15

MINUTES, ANYWAY.

Pat: THERE IS SO MUCH

CORRUPTION.

HOW ABOUT THE BROTHERHOOD?

THEY SET UP YASSER ARAFAT

AND THE P.L.O.

WHAT ABOUT THE PALESTINIAN

AUTHORITIES?

IT IS DESPERATELY CORRUPT,

ISN'T IT?

YEAH.

THERE WAS A DECREASE IN

CORRUPTION AFTER ARAFAT DIED

IN 2004.

IT HAS CLIMBED UP AGAIN.

IT IS A VERY BIG PROBLEM,

INCLUDING, FRANKLY, MAHMOUD

ABBAS, WHO'S PICTURE YOU

SHOWED ON THE COVER OF THE

BOOK.

HE AND HIS SONS ARE INVOLVED

IN A LOT OF THINGS THAT THEY

SHOULD NOT BE INVOLVED IN.

THAT'S A HUGE PROBLEM FOR

LOOKING AHEAD FOR THE

PALESTINIANS.

THEY HAVE GOT TO FIND A WAY

TO WRING THAT OUT OF THE

SYSTEM.

Pat: I THINK ONE OF THE

THINGS YOU WERE TRYING TO

SHOW WAS HOW INVOLVED GEORGE

BUSH WAS IN THIS PROCESS.

IS THAT TRUE TO?

HE REALLY WAS DOING

EVERYTHING HE COULD TO BRING

ABOUT A PEACEFUL SOLUTION?

I'M GLAD YOU RAISED THAT

BECAUSE THERE IS A MYTH THAT

PRESIDENT BUSH WASN'T

INVOLVED AND WASN'T

INTERESTED.

I SHOW IN THE BOOK STORY BY

STORY, MEETING IN THE OVAL

OFFICE, AIR FORCE 1

TRAVEL -- HE WAS INVOLVED

JUST ABOUT EVERY DAY.

HE DIDN'T PUSH ISRAEL INTO A

PEACE AGREEMENT THAT THEY

DID NOT WANT BECAUSE HE

THOUGHT THAT WAS WRONG.

HE THOUGHT THE CONDITIONS

DIDN'T EXIST FOR IT.

AND HE TOLD THEM, I WILL

NEVER TRY TO CRAM THIS --

THAT WAS HIS WORD -- I WILL

NEVER TRY TO CRAM THIS DOWN

ON YOU.

BUT HE WAS INVOLVED IN

TRYING BECAUSE HE REALLY

CARED.

DEEP, DEEP IN HIS HEART, HE

CARED ABOUT THE FUTURE OF

ISRAEL.

Pat: WHAT DO YOU THINK

IS GOING TO HAPPEN?

MORSI HAS A REVOMI REVOLT

ON HIS HANDS IN EGYPT, AND

THE IRANIANS ARE ALMOST AT

THAT RED LINE NETANYAHU

TALKED ABOUT.

DO YOU SEE AN EXPLOSION OVER

THERE?

I CAN'T SEE A PEACEFUL

SOLUTION COMING OUT OF THIS

TROUBLED REGION, BUT MAYBE

I'M WRONG.

IT IS VERY HARD TO BE

OPTMISTIC ABOUT EGYPT.

WHERE I DON'T SEE THE SYSTEM

HOLDING.

I'M NOT AT ALL SURE THAT

THAT SYSTEM WON'T COLLAPSE

IN ANOTHER YEAR.

AND IRAN, YOU KNOW, ARE THE

ISRAELIS REALLY GOING TO PUT

THEIR FUTURE, THEIR LIVES,

THEIR CHILDREN'S LIVES, IN

THE HANDS OF MR. OBAMA AND

MR. BIDEN AND RISK

EVERYTHING ON THAT?

I DON'T THINK SO.

I THINK SOME TIME IN THE

NEXT YEAR, THEY'RE GOING TO

ACT AGAINST IRAN.

Pat: IT IS NOT A

PLEASANT PROSPECT, IS IT?

IT REALLY ISN'T.

AND IT'S WRONG.

IT'S WRONG IN THE SENSE

WE'RE THE GLOBAL POWER,

WE'RE THE SUPER POWER.

IF IRAN IS A THREAT TO THE

WORLD, AND HE IS, WE'RE THE

ONES WHO SHOULD ACT.

AND WE ARE INFINITELY

STRONGER THAN ISRAEL.

IT IS KIND OF DISGRACEFUL TO

LEAVE THIS GLOBAL PROBLEM IN

THE HANDS OF THIS SMALL

NATION.

BUT IF WE DO, I BELIEVE

THEY'LL TAKE THAT

RESPONSIBILITY, AND THEY'LL

SAVE THEMSELVES AND US.

Pat: THANK YOU FOR THE

WORK YOU'VE DONE.

WE REALLY APPRECIATE YOU.

THE BOOK IS CALLED "TESTED

BY ZION."

YOU'LL FIND IT VERY

INTERESTING, WRITTEN BY A

MAN WHO WAS THERE IN THOSE

NEGOTIATIONS.

FASCINATING.

Terry: LOTS TO WATCH IN

THE COMING YEARS.

Pat: OH!

I SAID AT THE BEGINNING,

THINK WHAT A NUKE WHAT DO,

AND AHMADINEJAD AND THOSE

MULLAHS, THEY ARE FANATICS.

AND THEY WOULDN'T MIND

INCINERATORING ISRAEL.

NOR WOULD THEY MIND TAKING

FIVE MILLION CASUALTIES --

Terry: THAT'S WHAT I

WAS GOING TO SAY, THEIR OWN

PEOPLE.

Pat: BECAUSE IT WILL

BRING IN THE MONEY.

THE MONEY WILL APPEAR AND

BRING PEACE TO THE WORLD.

THAT'S WHAT THEY BELIEVE.

WE'RE NOT GOING TO NEGOTIATE

THEM OUT OF THAT.

BUT THE PEOPLE IN

WASHINGTON, WHO SEEM TO HAVE

STARS IN THEIR EYES DON'T

UNDERSTAND FANATACISM.

A GREAT BOOK, "TESTED BY

ZION."

EMBED THIS VIDEO


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