tv Israeli Officials Discuss U.S. Policy Toward the Middle East CSPAN January 30, 2017 12:49pm-2:05pm EST
from those countries. >> order. grateful to the foreign secretary and two colleagues. >> thank you, mr. speaker. >> we leave the house of commons here in london and head back to the u.s. for live coverage of discussion on president trumps middle east policy hosted by the washington institute. >> would be of arab ally, strategic asset as well as the democratic allies sharing the same as the united states. this culminated i think for 16 years during the clinton and the second bush administration. for 10 years, from 92 and 2008, these were 16 years of unprecedented close relationships between israel very different administrations.
the issue of attention between the u.s.-israel and its allies as then gradually reduce beginning with the peace process of the 1970s when henry kissinger managed to overcome the state department and explained that there is no point in pressuring israel to give up the golan heights committed in a fit of which would be the soviet union will pressure israel to make the deal when the arabs understand that the address for getting back sinai and the golan heights in moscow. the egyptian israeli treaty of 1979 and again during the peace process of the 1990s when the united states workers rated the peace process would be negotiating with most of the arab world, the united states
was key to that used to assess and into an architecture at what was called into containment that the united states helped contain the too dangerous regional powers in iraq and iran in the east while they are settling the tension in the court area of the middle east by promoting peace in israel and its immediate neighbors. with george bush it was different and his administration found a way of dealing with the arab issue and the famous letter to prime minister sharon. we will to some extent grow with the war and terror. israel was on the right side of the war of terrorism. 9/11 totally transformed the bush administration and certainly its foreign policy. so in addition to being able to
settle these relationships, the value and strategy, in the two countries the president here in the prime minister in israel are key players. when they have the relationship, the whole relationship drives. it happened of course between clinton famously, but also with bush with sure ron and bandwidth haunted. they had a very gross relationship, almost daily talks between the chief of staff and the prime minister national security adviser. he came to an end of the obama administration came to power. two things happened both here and israel. when america went left, israel became right. early in 2009 obama entered the white house january 20th and
then things began to diverge from day one there was no personal chemistry between the two. and there is substantive differences on policy, both with regard to the two specific issues that we spoke about, the palace indian issue in in the opinion issue. but also with the overall view of the region. if you go back to the cairo speech by president obama, his vision of the region did not dovetail with the israeli region. and then again, he respond to the arab spring and thereby encouraging initiative of the palace indian issue and famously said he should be on the right side of history, used a term more than once for the arab spring was on the right side of history and israel should join it rather than try to keep the status quo.
a few recall of president obama interview to the atlantic in defense of his foreign policy and his regional policy and you go back to as outlook on what we call the pragmatic saudi's and other sunni pragmatics, we go back to the question of his administration's race bonds to the fall of president mubarak and egypt. these are all issues in which israel and washington found a very different view of the region. let me say something about how israel used the region. it has been since the beginning of this century actually the region has gone on tremendous changes and i want to mention the main changes.
one of course is the united states pivoting away from the region, not complete, the definitely unwillingness to invest and certainly not to invest militarily as manifested most clearly in this area crisis. secondly, russia's return. the major actor in the region and again, most egregiously demonstrated the end of 2015 and russia one russia was expanded and everybody else are many others expand in syria. to me, the crisis of the arab world and arab states in our faith state, key state with egypt, saudi arabia, from its own perspective. while two major powers have joined fully the middle east
system, turkey and iran. iran since 1979, but more fully since 2003 in turkey primarily sent the heir to one presidency. this is a dramatic development. these are the states to the two empires are many centuries. the ottoman empire and dynasty is very much of the 20th century for different reasons were not in the politics of the region. they now are. in regional terms to very large powerful states, more than 80 million each, strong economies, developed with large military forces, participating in the politics of the region and changing it. and we need to deal with that change. so, israel obviously asks how do
i fit into the region and what would i like to see in the region, which takes us to the current moment of the american administration clearly has not given prior thought to what middle east they would like to see and speaking specifically about issues and iran, islamic terrorism and bilateral relationship and i think it would be good and useful for both countries that the prime minister comes here next month to try to calm to as much of a common vision of the region as we can in order to help the region and help her own relationship. i would like to offer insight but the way i see how we can think together and possibly
worked together on the major issues. one, russia. there has been loose talk about the grand bargain american russian relations. is it going to be a grand bargain if it's going to take place and obviously would affect this serious issue. does it want to make such a deal with an important part of that and if so, what does washington want to have and what does russia have to offer? russia want stability and quiet. russia at least on paper would be willing to provide it. who wouldn't be able to do that. i ran -- is russia willing to abandon its relationship with iran and syria. can the believer in stability
and quiet always going to try to push the maintenance of the rule. if peace and quiet mean regain control of 80% of syria, was that he accept a bowl to others in the region to the sunni arabs and are they going to accept it. how about turkey, which is now in the absence of american leadership has been drifting in the direction of russia, but the per minute important neighbor and the border. this is obviously an important question. russia and then intimately connected to the relationship with russia, the issue of syria. clearly, something needs to be done about the current crisis in syria. from a human point of view, it
upset stability in the region. it threatens the stability of europe and there is a need to satellite. and is there -- i would say that solution is not available. .. wants to play a role similar to the one played in earlier decades. that i think would be very well come to fruition. i think there is a question of fixing the relationship with the traditional sunni allies.
speak to them recently about the way was done in the atlantic interview, but to look at the siloed is, the egyptians, the jordanians, the moroccans, friends and allies of the united states, and to work with them. that again is something that needs to be done. israel as we know now has still under the table but on the whole and very good working relationship with many of these states. and, of course, if you can become in a way trilateral relationship, united states, israel and the pragmatic states in the region, that is something that i think we again would be very welcome from an israeli point of view. finally, the palestinian issue. the relationship between, first of all, it's an issue that needs to be addressed first and foremost from our point of view.
something that israel needs to deal with, not because washington is exacting pressure but because israeli needs to deal with the issue. and, of course, it affects israel's relationship with the rest of the world, the issue of legitimacy, our relationship with the sunni states and with washington itself. and i'd like to offer the premise to say that the final two-state solution or the final state solution is not available around the corner right now. in an effort to try to negotiate such a solution tomorrow, it's likely to fail and likely to produce something similar to what happened after the second conference. but an interim solution is available, static sample at this point to the palestinian leadership. their policy is everything or nothing.
and if the prime minister of israel is willing to make the concession that israel will have to make for that to happen, and he's willing to try to persuade his american interlocutors that this is what the united states should do into that he does want to invest in this area, i think we can have a fruitful collaboration this regard as well. so a rich agenda, many question marks, many issues to deal with but i think if fruitful rush mac to working. very much -- thank you very much. [applause] >> okay. thank you very much for really wide-ranging remarks. a start to both of you, i think for minister, to you, if we are these rumors, reports of a possible meeting between the president and the prime minister in february, what do you think
is come you're saying about what went wrong the last eight years. also there were good things that security and until that is what officials talk about as well but if you had to say, what is key for this prime minister in establishing in that first meeting, you know, what would you point to? because you're going to get asked about this, i might as well put it out there, for example, on the issue of the u.s. embassy to jerusalem. but what would you see are the key sets of understandings on how the u.s. and israel with each other going forward? you pointed yourself to the relationship to the top is crucial. so if you could just say, like the size, you know, if iran sanctions, settlement. are there other areas say here are some of the principles i would like the u.s. and israel to establish early on, and we
will be able to work to all the issues of fast but always certain principles you would like. itamar, i guess my question is you touched on this soon israel under the table relationship which is got to be one of the rights lots in the middle east right now -- sunni israel. there's no shortage of challenges and the like, and you mentioned the importance can use the word it would be welcome for the u.s. to play a greater role in the region and the u.s. should get closer to some of the sunni states which for some years maybe a little jarring that israel is advocating closer u.s.-arab relations. by a judge on the middle east has changed, that israel doesn't see itself anymore as a zero-sum game, that the u.s. can be both close to some of his pragmatic states as well as close to israel. you mention even the idea by travel while relationship is when it defeated -- trilateral relationship and how israel would fit into that, whether it's through formal arrangements
or informal understandings. >> thank you, david. the meeting was supposed to take place in february. hopefully it will be federally 26th. it's my birthday, and i'm going to be 24 the third time, 20 years old. the reason i want to be prime minister not come in before the 26tthe26th is you supposed to bn australia, and it's the first visit of an israeli prime minister in australia since israel was established. it was postponed several times, once because of the war in gaza in 2014, and then the president was supposed to be there and couldn't make it. so i was just in australia and i know how anxious they are to host the prime minister and help
people get their on-time the 21st through the 24th. but what ever it takes place, it is an important meeting. those two leaders are good friends anyway. they know each other and they met, they spoke of this is the first time that prime minister comes to the president of united states and probably saw so many issues to discuss, will be discussed. i'm not sure that the palestinian issue is going to be the first and the most important on the agenda. i'm sure it's not. hopefully the palestinians will counter defenses and get back to the negotiating table, and then we'll see whether the united states wants or can help us find the way to run our -- but what we hav learned from our peace ad that we have with jordan since
1993, and with egypt since 1978, is about when the parties speak with each other, put on the table everything that they have, their interests, their frustrations, their vision, their despair, their emotions, history, everything, the way to get an agreement is defined a common denominator between themselves. we did it with egypt the united states was very helpful. you remember this was camp david summit in maryland, but it was really between menachem begin and his team to saddam and his team. and before, more than a year before some thought courageous enough to come to the israeli knesset, state his mind and told us all no more war, no more bloodshed.
it was moving, it was exciting and it was strong, and he led later on to the success of the peace talks. and it still working. when we have with egypt we have very, very good relationship. based on our common interest to fight terrorism and to ensure stability in the middle east. the same goes with jordan the king, king hussein was, had relations with israel for years even before the six day war and after the six day war and before the 1973 war and afterwards. he didn't need any icc decision or european parliament or american administration encouraging him, to go forward and get an agreement with the, and it is still working okay also like with egypt, working very, very good. so what to do it with the palestinians. it will probably be discussed
with the president. the major issues i think were touched on here. we need to find the way to make a relationship with the arab world more powerful because we share, i mean, the sunni world. we share the same interest and were being challenged by the same enemies. , isis, radical islam, iran. they are the enemies of all those countries. it's not the zionists. it's not the jewish double. we are an asset, not an enemy. of course it's not easy for them to go public with it, but i think we work with the united states and then the understanding of the needs to bring about such an all-inclusive alliance. the new world that is now there
will be much more powerful when it's not only under the table. it needs to be above the table. what we believe is the strengthening of the relationship between israel and sunni world, not only egypt and jordan but other countries, will make it easier for the palestinians, for the pragmatic palestinian to be part of this new development, and not be so much afraid that they will be isolated, not to be terrified from what would be there -- courageous move on their part when the hamas, iran, all try to isolate them. but then if the arab world is giving can support, motivating them, making them understand that is their utmost entrance to put an end to this ongoing bloody conflict, it will be much
more feasible to achieve such an agreement. so i'm sure this will be discussed within -- with the new administration. i would discuss also the need for the united states to acknowledge israel -- golan heights. there is no more syria. you don't want daesh or rebels are others threatening the north putting the legs -- [inaudible] so the united states could not in the past except annexation of golan heights. but history as changed. the war has changed and i think the new administration can be dealing with this russian, with assyrian russian, iranian hezbollah issue, understanding that giving legitimacy to the
annexation of the golan heights is a powerful move by the united states. of course, in the real context of the all-inclusive context of what's going to happen in syria, there are so many issues are not going to touch. these are major issues that will be discussed. of course the most important one is as an agent for is the iranian issue, but that probably is not going to be discussed in a public manner. >> let me respond directly to question, david, and then brief, on minister hanegbi statement. i doubt that there can be any formal open trilateral relationship. there was, by the way, such a relationship in the late 50s, not with the arabs but what was then known as israel's periphery
policy with turkey, iran and ethiopia and it included also the united states. there was a formal structure for intelligence sharing and combating what at the time was soviet policy and cooperation with the soviet union. i doubt it. i think that for a while we will see more under the table than over the table. there is a way of helping to transform that relationship, and also add the united states, those by responding to the issue of the arab, so-called arab peace initiative. many israelis including on the right wing such as minister lieberman speak enthusiastically about the region of solution to the palestinian issue, and say that there's no prospects of coming to an agreement with the palestinian leadership, but this
should be made in a way with the arab world and then passed on to the palestinians. now, there is something in it, in the following way. it easier for the israeli public, the israeli public to accept deals with the arab world and with the palestinians. because there is an unstated but a real sense in israel that the israeli-palestinian conflict is a zero-sum conflict. if they gain, weight lose, and vice versa. not so with the arab states where interest can become from entry. so confessions, agreement with the arab states are easier to market in the israeli political arena. secondly, the arabs can offer concessions that would make it easier or would supplement the value of the deal.
if you recall on the way to cairo, president obama stopped in saudi arabia and wanted to persuade the saudis to offer overflight for israel on the way to asia as part of the deal. he met with negative response, but if israel responds to the arab peace initiative and the arabs comes in and in the states comes in, issues like this can be close. the arab peace initiative, the original one in 2007, are not exactly relevant. it's a very short document. it looks small diktat that the plan. and, of course, syria is not a partner at this point. but there's not been an israeli response. even prime minister try to negotiate both the syrian and
the palestinian, did not respond to the arab peace initiative. so i response more or less like okay, we are willing to respond. of course it needs to be changed, it needs to be formulated a more specific terms, but israel is willing to talk, would be a step forward. so if the administration decided that it does want to seek together the israeli revival, a notion of injuring agreement between israel and the palestinians, and the arabs pragmatic states abroad as partners, each of these could be a way of elevating this whole relationship. now, my brief comments on minister hanegbi statement. one on iran. i would say, i would not help as if i were the pioneers of israel on trying to persuade the president to undo the deed. not going to work, but to
enforce the data. the iranians are not keeping it scrupulously. to make sure iran doesn't go nuclear and more portly to deal with iran's behavior in the middle east. these are three issues in which israel and united states and come to agreement and also find broad support for. now, on golan heights, with respect i disagree. i think would be a bad idea for israel to speak about the golan heights. the arab world hates the world and extension and does want to see that they are -- in the arab states change. iraq, syria, other states are there but it's very important to the arabs to keep them, to keep the territory integrity of these failed states because they are afraid if you move one brick from the wall, the whole wall will collapse. at this point the israeli
settlement in the cologne, it's not there. it's not an issue. i think, i don't think we'll been issue for a long time. it's not an issue. why do you raise it looks like to israel into a problem and what already is a very complex and controversial issue? so i would let whatever sleeping, sleep. thank you. >> thank you. dennis roth. >> i thought both presentations were very interesting. one comment and then a question for each of you. the comic is, it is true that historically -- comment that the chemistry between presidents and prime ministers have been useful in terms of shaping a relationship, although the truth is frequently that chemistry
hasn't been great, even in administrations that ended up doing things fairly well together. the reagan administration being a good example. the reagan-menachem begin chemistry wasn' was a recruit hm afterwards and improved a little bit but it was never that great and yet the reagan administration ended up establishing strategic cooperation with israel and drove a relationship that was shaped and a sense on values and interests. that is backdrop i would say maybe with the upcoming visit committed the most important thing is to be certain that there is a kind of broad understanding of the approac apo the region. and here i would say one of the problems i think with obama wasn't just chemistry, it was also, i think both of you kind of alluded to this, president obama wasn't and internationals but he was a minimalist, spatial as related to the middle east. it's not at all clear what president trump is going to be when it comes to the region.
we know that he has an interest in isis but we don't know if he has an interest in having a united states remain involved as the power within the middle east. i think that is profoundly in israel's interest. a united states needs today given all the uncertainty in the region, the united states needs a strong israel in the region, but israel also needs a strong united states. i would focus heavily strategically in the upcoming meeting, talking about what are the important strategic interest we both have in the united states remaining in the area, precise because it will affect america's fastest good interest. the one thing we learned about in the east over the last 17 years is that the las vegas rules don't apply. meaning, what takes place in the middle east never states and middle east. so i would keep that heavily in mind and i would then pose a question to each of you more specifically. tzachi, would you think a
reaffirmation of the bush drawn letter be something that could be of interest to the prime minister when he comes? it would be an achievement but it also sent an important signal about and an understanding on the u.s. and israel as a relates to some activity, and that letter itself has implications for israel might approach the settlement issue. and itamar, given the interest that you have raised in the valley of the europe peace initiative in effect what to talk about with regard to kind of quit quiet understandings, possibly three-way understandings, where would the issue of the jerusalem embassy fit into that kind of conversation? >> the issue of? >> the jerusalem embassy. >> before you get into the details, for those who are listeners who are not as clear with the bush letter, was written in april 2004. it was at a time that prime
minister sharon wanted to withdraw from gaza, felt he could get no quid pro quo from the palestinians so he approaches president bush, and the letter contained a paragraph that says that any final deal with the israelis and palestinians, it's unlikely to go back to what's known as the 1949 armistice line, which is almost the same, not identical, or proximate the same as at the pre-1967 line. but rather that would be major population centers that sometimes known as settlement blocs, as were 80% of where the settlers live and about 8% of the line, given 5% of the light inside was noted as the security barrier. so this issue of the letter has kind of return and there's a lot of speculation that dennis and i and others i think kevin washington that prime minister netanyahu was going to look for reaffirmation of that letter, special as you must israel relations deteriorated at the start of obama when the letter was not reaffirmed by the obama
administration. and it gets to the question of settlement blocs been the focus and not building outside the barrier. that part is not in the letter. but that's why there's been a lot of interest, whether this issue is suddenly going to research itself in washington at the time of the visit or in the aftermath of the visit. >> we understand the heat, not to go there, okay. i agree, dennis, with your assessment about the chemistry, not as such as the importance proponent. and i can say that even though, let's say, prime minister netanyahu and president obama were not the best of friends, during the eight years of the
last administration, that administration helped israel in so many ways that not all of them are known, not all were made public, intelligence, political, political backing and support in various international forums. of course, the new m.o.u. that was signed ensuring $38 million to israel in the next 10 years, beginning from 2018. military cooperation, and it did nothing to do with the fact that we did have disputes over various issues. so it's a fact that you can fight and you can be furious
with each other, have emotional reactions, but the alliance is alive and kicking and being helped and strong and growing all the time, i'm being encouraged. it's going to happen, hopefully, with every administration in the future. i disagree with my friend about syria but i'm not going to belabor it. we would be invited again especially to deal with this issue hopefully one day when the syrian issue will be more relevant. but about iran, i do have to say something. i'm not calling for, nobody is really calling israel for tearing the agreement apart. but the iranians have inherited
or have structured interest to comply with the agreement. maybe they violate, maybe they won't but their interest is to make the clock work and get to the end of the agreement, get all the sanctions relief, get the world invest in them, get their economy richer and richer. and when time comes and that's where the various paragraphs of the agreement expire, they are free to have unlimited enrichment, irene enrichment facility as much as they want, and they say they want, if they want 195 centrifuges working, by the agreement it is legitimate possibility.
they will have the rmt during the time so they don't even need so many centrifuges to have the material needed for hundreds of bombs. and to be what they call breakout state, and to be in a situation where, as president obama put in a very sincere way in a debate, they will be weeks from achieving the capability of enriching the armament. of course they will still need to do things that we don't know if they have achieved when it comes to the weapons system, but i think that this waiting for them to be very, very tough about the implementation of the agreement, that they will implement it. they have patience. it's a persian empire for
thousands and thousands of years and they can wait eight more years to get to the point where the world or the united states leading the world has allowed them to be located. so we cannot sit back and be -- we have to do many, many things. we had the icbm program, the issue of them breaking the united nations security council resolutions concerning the icbm program, others, but these issues are important for israel and for united states alike. and they are more important for the arab world. much more because we know how to defend ourselves but we did it in 81, according to various american books we did also in 2007. but we know who cannot do it.
saudi arabia cannot do it. maybe egypt, maybe jordan, maybe uae, other, qatar, the arab world is terrifying scene united states disassociating themselves with this issue, or on the contrary, raising it as a great legacy. so it has to be challenged. again, this is not a public issue yet but it has to be challenged and the israeli leadership understands that as time passes it becomes more difficult to challenge it, and thank god we have a new administration understands the importance of this new challenge. did you ask about the embassy? spin i asked before about the sharon a letter. >> it will be very diplomatic
for me to relate to it because i'm still, i like my friend, i'm still representative of the israeli government and these are very sensitive times. so i can relate to it but not in a public forum, unfortunately. thank you. >> speaking of sensitive issues, like the embassy, it is very sensitive on our front very much so the sunni arab states. in two of them jordan and morocco have a particular spending with regard to the muslim holy places in jerusalem. also much of what we discussed is -- between sunni and arab states with the regime, not with the public and the example of sending israeli gas to jordan is
very telling with public demonstration to get something that the government or the regime decided to do for jordans own best interest. .. including the sunni states, but i think we are a bit behind the curve here because the trump administration itself has realized what could be said during the campaign or the first days needs to be adjusted to reality. it is an administration in the midst of a learning process, and
without knowledge but just guessing, i think they're probably trying to find a creative approach that would enable the president to live with his commitments without embroiling the region. >> do you see the statements of the administration of the last week, which seems to kind of put a -- much quieter on the issue, a temporary pause until the prime minister comes and from your perspective do you see it as easing away from the campaign pledge on the issue of the embassy which stirred a lot of interest in washington as you can imagine. >> instead of moving the embassy to jerusalem it can be moved to amona which is a new place that is -- are you okay with this? >> yeah. it's a joke.
>> but the people of hamona are worried about parking problems. >> i think this decision is long over due and every american administration could not stand up to it commitment, and i have an instinct feeling that the current administration will make this decision, but i agree, it will take its time and they will have to do it on in a hasty way and to consider exactly how to make it in a way that it really only a correction of an abnormality. not everybody knows that i'm -- i'm not schnur israel are or the arab world people understand that in 1948, one of the few countries in world that did not
recognize jerusalem is the capitol city of israel was the united states. it did locate its embassy in tel aviv in 1948 but nothing to do with the israeli-palestinian 1967 conflict or any other annexation of jerusalem in 1980 or whatever. this was something that was very, very problematic the beginning of our relationship, but we didn't have such an alliance with the united states in '48 so was accepted as something we have to live with, but now i think it's a burden of free friendship, of the intimate relationship. not a -- we cannot be bullied by our arab threats or warnings that bring about the fire
because it has nothing to do with the peace process and not going to determine the final stage of jerusalem and recognizing the israel as the capitol city of israel like it was established in 1948. it's all about emotions and not about rational thinking, and i believe and hope that the administration will find a way to stand up to its commitment. it's a domestic commitment. it's not about israel. israel didn't beg for it or ask for it. it's about legislation that was agreed upon by the american congress back in october 1995 and every sing -- six months is being waived and presidential authority. so it's between the congress and the administration, and every israeli, left, right, secular or religious, every israeli prays for this unjust decision to be
changed. hopefully it will happen. >> just before i go to the next question i want to be precise because it's been seen on c-span and not ann is aware of all these nuances about jerusalem. am i hearing you correctly be saying by the u.s. relocating it to the western part of jerusalem it's rectifying an anomaly and it is not about recognizing the whole city under israeli sovereignty? that for the peace negotiation. >> 100%. >> just wanted to be clear. >> mentioned the return on turkey to the middle east. i wanted to ask mr. hanegbi what do you see as the future of the u.s. -- the israeli-turkish normalization process. can you make specific reverence
to the role in gaza? there's been a meeting on the margins of meeting between, i believe, israeli chief of staff and the turkish chief of staff and the energy issue, and how do you balance with the relation relations with the atlantic world, cypress and greek. >> we have great strategic relationship with turkey for a long time, even during the people prime ministership. i visited the turkey several times in special occasions, great encounters with my colleagues and we all know what happened with the change in the first -- the language and the authority and later on possibly
with the sentiments of -- vis-a-vis gaza and islam affiliation and felt that hamas are victims and he was -- we know everything -- of course also political mo -- maneuvers and other issues involved. israel made a pragmatic decision not to escalate the relationship, not to inflame the ongoing tension after what happened with the -- so the prime minister took advantage of the saying at that time president obama at the time mediated a phone call between him and erdogan, and israel apologized and agreed to sign an agreement accepting the -- based on humanitarian reasons to
compensate families of i think ten turkish terrorists that died during the confront addition -- confrontation. the ambassador came back, our ambassador came back and i think the energy issue there of the gas, the eventual gas that we found, plays an important role in the understanding of turkey and of israel that we have strategic potential cooperation that can be challenged, and we have to put aside issues that belong to the past. still, we will have to be very cautious and they will have to be very cautious because hamas did not evaporate and has a tendency every three or four years, they forget what happened in the last confrontation and provokes us again and then we have to do whatever we have to do to defend ourselves and might again influence the israeli-turk
ish relationship but seems greek, turkey, cypress, we have relationship with each country based on our mutual ways of having our projects together, energy, with cypress how to cooperate with greece, a lot of cooperation in there and very good relation with the new government in greece, even though it's a left one, very much sympathetic to the israel's interests and vice versa. so, the balance is there. and we will have to be very wise not to enter ourselves into the local original debate that unfortunately still exists. >> itamar?
>> yes, just to add to this, the issue of syria. i think turkey has huge interest in syria. i think focus maybe to heavily on the kurdish issue. one of the important byproducts of the syrian crisis has been to reveal the mental witness of the turkish state. always been assumed that turkey is one powerful actor in middle east and found out this is not the case, that the sense of frailty and threat to the foundation of the turkey state by the prospect of a kurdish sovereignty, either in syria or iraq or both so powerful that it became a driving force. at some point, as we witnessed, the turkey preferred isis over
the kurds in syria, and now it's of course with the russian-iranian victory in aleppo, pressure on turkey has eased somewhat, but as we proceed in dealing with the u.s. -- syrian cries continues to up fold and the process of potential russian-american -- come to the horizon, the question of turkey's input into this and what the turks really wants remain big question marks on the agenda. >> allen. >> the mic right over here. >> thank you. i was thinking of two questions that the trump team might ask any visiting israeli delegation beyond what we already touched upon. the first would be an interest
in getting an assessment from israel as to how it now views assad, and given the military victories that, the consolidation with the help of the iranian forces and the russian forces, and the second question might relate to a very interesting op-ed piece not to along ago in which he said that contrary to the general logic that jerusalem being the most difficult issue should be left to the end, we should actually have a jerusalem first dip mix -- diplomatic issue it's -- so perhaps you could comment what you think an israeli answer to those questions might be. >> the second question i totally agree with martin. the refugee itch -- issue is
much proper problematic because i haven't heard any palestinian leader so far disassociate himself from this dream of right of return, of getting back to acre and nazareth and -- they say that in closed rooms they do understand that it's a no-starter but not really important what happens in closed rooms because the end this will have to go to referendum, both in israel and the palestinians, and if you don't teach the palestinian people this is not going to happen, that is something that annoys israeli leader left or right can accept and that the palestinian refugees have to find their solution and aspiration in the two states two people solutions
and not in the 1948 areas. so, you are going either be killed or lose the referendum so i dent see even the beginning of -- don't see even the beginning of an understanding among the pragmatic palestinian people that this is a must education issue of the country. we see the excitement and all the other stuff so i believe this is much proper problematic than finding a creative solution to the arab inhabit tenants of jerusalem and for the holy basin. and remind me the first question? >> outside. >> thank you. we have a five-year mutual debate in israel about what is better, assad that we know or
some kind of replacement, the devil we don't know. and it's very -- in need for israel decision about it or israeli policy about it because it's not up to us to decide. we are not going to make any real difference to have an impact, but my personal decision in this debate is participating, is this the best scenario is that assad is out. i think that it's -- the biggest blow to iran and hezbollah in the region, and they think soment this is why they fight for years to make us survive. this is why thousands of hezbollah fighters are stealing their blood, many were killed and wounded and crippled to achieve this goal. this who is iran didn't put boots on the ground, but they
sent thousands of militia people so other countries, saudi arabian commanders were killed all right. but they invest in it because they understand the ram fig indication -- ramifications of syria not being led by a supporter of the radical front, headed by iran. so, i think this is -- if it happens it would be great news for the world, israel, the lebanese, the real people of the peaceful, wishful people of syria who would love, think, a leadership representing the people and not a segment minority already but this is practically, virtually, and i'm sure if anybody thinks more about it.
>> it mar itamar, you have studied syria. >> briefly about the idea. part of the problem in trying to negotiate israeli-palestinian issue, the issue is that we have been at it for a very long time and almost everything has been triedded a maas -- ad nauseam so if somebody comes up with an out of the box idea it's worth thinking about. if negotiations were to be resumed they should be -- you don't just send delegations into the room let try to fonda out if -- try to find out if there's merit and prepare for negotiation, now, on israel and awe -- awe assad. eye -- six-ya has kept us out of
the crisis and acted in points and at places that were action was required, and on the whole it's done very well. think the debate -- maybe raises not the right term but took place in israel during the first five years between the devil we know and the other school, is decided -- we had certainly clearly the government correctly understands that assad staying in power is worse for israel. i say for first of all sometimes we can take a moral position. i think it is wrong for the international community to support a mag murderer staying in power. it's not acceptable morally speaking. second, this would be a victory
for the coalition of russia, iran, assad, and hezbollah. bad for israel. assad are tried to establish itself in southern syria and to extend the line of confrontation with israel from the -- interest the golan heights and that's where they would go. more concretely, if the current grant continues with russian and iranian and focusing opposition and push southward, eventually south of syria would become an arena of fighting between regime and insurgent and possibly embroil both. it is one area in which the united states and moderator of state and israel could very well collaborate. >> so, back there, and then
we'll take few in a row because we might get close to the last round. so, right next to -- and okay. >> thanks very much for all your remarks. the question is wanted to raise stems from a remark that ambassador rabinovich made concerning an interim settlement or solution with palestinians. one question is i take it from that suggestion that you agree with mr. hanegbi that the obama approach was fatal to any reasonable negotiations but there now exists some possibility of a negotiation, and the second is, what you see the -- that interim solution to be? >> we'll take three in a row.
>> i am -- assistant defense -- i haven't a question about the u.s. -- israeli cooperation and the possible palestine yap peace talks. do you think that there is still a role for the european around and how the increased cooperation u.s. and israel will have -- what kind of influence on the new relations with the european union. that's the first question. the second one, do you think that perhaps part of the talks withure prime minister and president trump would be possible, you're saying, in syria,' in terms of there will be a -- between u.s. and russia on syria cooperation. you said -- do you have a part to have a say on the future
solutions in syria? also in terms of pushing back iran from syria. thank you. >> thank you. >> i have a more general question about strategic importance of the middle east. there are different reports, studies, that indicate that the oil will run out in at least the next 30 years. what implications do you think that has for israel in 'for the importance of the middle east on the world scene. >> so we'll allow the -- our panelists ooher to respond to three sets of questions and we'll conclude. so just to recap, the question is to what extent if you could articulate what an interim agreement would look like and contrast to what you think the obama administration was trying to do. the second question, if i understood, from our colleague
from poland was about to what extent would stronger u.s.-israel cooperation impact the eu and the europe's role going forward, and also how israel's interests regarding u.s.-russia reproachment and the question about the role of oil -- strategic -- [inaudible] >> let me go first. you see the issue is this. people sometimes describe the situation as a tension between the quest for settlement and the continuation of the status quo. so, my two points of departure are these. one is it a impossible right now to find a settlement and there is no status quo.
what we call the status quo is actually a drift towards annexation, creeping annexationism, and i one thing that israel can offer is to stop that process. the bush -- the revival of the bush-sharon letters has been mentioned could be one element of agreeing on the bloc and construction just inside the blocs, i'm free from cooperation in israel but -- >> maybe you can join palestine. >> okay. you see i come home with at least one offer. >> he didn't say which party. >> thirdly, 60% of the west bank is area c, much could be done to
offer the palestinians in area c. the economic reconstruction of gaza. i know that to reduce the human pressure cooker and so forth. i could good -- i think about ten elements that do not touch on the final status issues would lead to an -- a significant improvement in the standard of life in the west bank and in gaza, and could stabilize the swaying but the main observation is that the leadership is absolutely dead opposed to the idea -- because they say an interim settlement backs a final seesment. and they have to confront the issue, what do you prefer, continuing drift to attack annexationism, and the question about the middle east.
one of the changes in the region during their century has been the decline of its importance. to a large extent because of declining importance of the middle east and the oil in the rise of opportunities and part of the underlying ropes for the american people away from the region has to do with this. >> thank you. about europe, i am in charge of some of the context of the relationship between the israel and europe. represent israel in the discussions with european union and aim going attend the special meeting dedicated to those relationships in brussels next month, and i just came back from a meeting in barcelona with the
arab facilities and the european union and we also empathize our need and readiness and hope to have very close relations with europe. europe is our best trade partner. we have many connections with so many countries in europe. we would like to see the european approach to the middle east, the conflict in a more balanced way. not a dramatic acceptance of the palestinian approach. still, many countries in europe share our views about this conflict and since in the european union you need didn't -- helps to minimize the tension in europe. but we do fell it now with the
new administration, also room for more european involvement. of course, with the more balanced approach and europe can play a role abuse they're much closer to the palestinians than the united states is. and maybe some kind of triangle can occur and motivate the palestinians to go back to the negotiations table. we have many pro-projects with the europeans in the west bank. i represent israel in the agency, the ad hoc liaison committee about the -- the committee in new york every september and i see how much important this european contribution to the very life of the palestinian, both in gaza and the west bank.
so it's important to bring them onboard and do it with cooperation with israel and the palestinian authority. now, i'm being -- appointed to be aned a administer in the original cooperation whose mandate is to cooperate with jordan and with egypt and the palestinians and other neighboring countries, with the help of europe and other places in the world in order to at least -- here we have final arrangement to a lot of palestinians to have their own institutions and have more solid economy, to have infrastructure that will allow them in due time to become a functioning state. about syria, the last remark, as itamar said we're very cautious about doing anything in syria. we only made some red lines
concerning the fact we don't want to see smuggling of state-of-the-art weapons from iran through syria to the hezbollah because it is going to make them more motivate, freed from the -- lebanon to provoke israel to again be the aggressor, and we don't want this to happen, other round of violence. another interest of us is, as was mentioned before to present the implement or the syrian-iranian-hezbollah front to use the syrian goal in order to take israel into israel, build the infrastructure of terrorism cell in the golan heights, taking advantage of the fact that it is now no man's land there.
so we did have to take actions several times. we prevented it from happening. we intercepted, and since then we see that this strategy was put aside and we hope it's going to be the situation in the future. thank you. >> i want to thank our panelists and john me in thanking them for a very wide-ranging discussion and i'm sure as the new administration here takes shape in washington, and prime minister comes and visits, this issue will be very much come to the fore. so thank you for getting started near 2017 on this issue and more discussions to come. thank you all very, very much for coming. thank you. [inaudible conversations]
[inaudible conversations] >> if you missed the conversation about middle east policy you can find it online at c-span2.org. type washington institute in the video library search bar. and a look the capitol where the senate will be gaveling in at 3:00 eastern time debating rex tillerson for secretary of state.