tv Israeli Officials Discuss U.S. Policy Toward the Middle East CSPAN January 30, 2017 8:41pm-10:17pm EST
c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. >> next, a discussion with israel's cabinet minister and a former israeli ambassador on future relations between their country and the u.s. they also looked at the prospects of a two-state solution between the israelis and palestinians and the upcoming meeting on february 15th between prime minister benjamin netanyahu and president trump. this is an hour and a half. >> good morning, everyone. welcome back to the washington institute. we're really delighted today to bring two perspectives from
israel that i think will really get at a question that's on people's mind, which is how does the middle east look at the start of the trump era. how and we have two israelis to offer how they would like the new administration to look at the region. at large and how to reinvigorate the u.s. as a relationship. so it's really a delight for me to really welcome back to this podium two people who have been friends of the institute in the past. one is cabinet minister tzachi hanegbi minister for regional cooperation and a close confidante of prime minister netanyahu. he's had a range of cabinet portfolios. his involvement in israeli governance and the likud goes back to the 1980s and he's been
involved in israeli politics ever since. also, another person who is nos stranger to washington certainly is professor itamar rab knowvich known to many of you. itamar was israel's ambassador to washington in the 1990s. was also the chief negotiator with syria, a real scholar when it comes to syria. and he's also been the head of what's tel aviv university dky on center and he's been the president, the provost of tel aviv university. he's the chairman of something called the israel institute to support the idea of israel studies in the united states and in different parts of the world. and i just really think here are two people that have thought a lot about israel's foreign policy and it's really a delight for me and for the institute that they've come back and vin shared to share their perspectives with us today. i want to thank you both very much for coming and we'll start
it's beautiful to see washington snowed in. i was invited to this event was happy to accept invitation to the washington institute. it's very important thing tank entity in d.c. i'm always happy taupe cooperate, to learn to, read and when it's possible also to be part of deliberations. today we will discuss what is really enigmatic for all of us, the nature of the relationship between israel and united states and the new administration. so i'll begin by describing a
little bit how we felt in the last eight years. the alliance between israel and the united states is momentum for decades. and it doesn't really matter whenever there is a change in the american administration or israeli parliament or government, the tendency is very identical to whatever before and what happens next. so it's a given that you will have disputes among the sides in every administration, be it republican or democratic, it can be likud or labor. there will be issues that both sides will not look in the same direction, both sides will have
contradicting strategies, interpretation of the reality and that goes without say. that's part of the natural relationship. it happened during reagan who was a great supporter of israel and you remember 1981, the israeli election visa have i the nuclear reactor in iraq and reagan was furious and he suspended the f-15 i think it was for several months and he was really angry with us, and we had troubles with carter and bush and bush father and the son and, of course, clinton. but last eight years were different in the way that we did not feel that the disputes, the tension reflects what happens in
a family. it doesn't reflect something that it's part of life. you have to find a way to get over it with sensitivity, with recognition. the other side has its own interest and even if there is misunderstanding or contradiction, both sides since they're on the same side of this equation work together to minimize the damage and to open a new page. and we were sad. we were not only frustrated or upset because this is natural thing in such relationship, but we were sad that we failed, that the administration is not in
various issues, it's not everything. it's not even the majority of issues. but in various issues, especially two issues, the settlement issue settlement agrt the beginning the iran strategy but jcp, we felt the animosity growing between us and the american administration is beyond what we expected to happen with such a profound alliance. so whatever happened it's history. all of you know it. this we are so hopeful for the future because we believe that even once we will have disputes with the new administration and it's going to happen, there's no
way we'll have full understanding of full cooperation and other nuance in everything four years we do feel have problems we had with president obama. he come from a place that's different in his understanding where we stand, why we're so passionate about various issues and it's going to be easier. let's say the palestinian issue, for example, david is here, itamar sent thousands of hours, ten of thousands of hours, thinking working, they know how complicated things are. what happened with the last
administration they, very soon after coming into office, in the first term of president obama and secretary clinton made a declaration denouncing any kind of building in jerusalem in the bronx whatever, you remember the slogan not one brick. not one brick i don't remember exactly where was it given public reflection but it was told in the -- first meeting between president and israel prime minister after election of president obama. i remember the prime minister coming back and he was in shock because it was not just, he
realize that it's a new sheriff in town it's not what he was used to with bush or clinton, but it set the ground for this ability of the palestinian to be less pragmatic than this, this i would say, top, this border. it's not possible for the palestinian to accept going back to negotiation table or understanding they can negotiate with israel when america demand from israel to stop any kind of building not one block.
unfortunately, this is what happened. it was time for negotiation for nine months because of many regional issues, the major problem was the palestinian pragmatic faction could not allow themselves to be less tough, less committed than the best friend of israel, the american administration. this lead for a variety of events. now this president as far as you understand from the way he speaks, it's not that he is for settlement but he understand this is not the ob sta kal eunderstand when we say the major issue is the fact that the
palestinian yet do not find within themselves the power, the courage to recognize israel as homeland of the jewish faith this is what obstacle is. whenever we get an agreement, wherever we cross the border, there's no more settlement. those in israel will be in israel. those who are beyond who going to be for two people. we will not be settler people ready to be under palestinian sovereignty. so you have to tackle major problems. this is one example why we are hopeful with the new administration taking into
account that there will have to take their time to learn, to absorb to shape the policy and we will be happy to be hart of this process of thinking together and building together the political part of our alliance. but we know that the instincts are correct. where they stand is where we stand. if we were sad visa vi what happened in the last administration, even hopeful enthusiastic about working with the administration. the last issue is the iranian issue. this is exactly another place where we do feel that the new administration does not feel it
has to prove that the legacy in charge or responsible for is something that after shadows every other problem. they don't come with the legacy of this jcp, they understand our problematic is, they understand israel there's pros and cons in each agreement. united states had at the time was so strong to achieve a better agreement and one that will not bring iran within 12, 13 years to the place they can become nuclear state and we will be working with the new administration about ideas of minimizing the damage of this agreement fighting solutions to
the basic problems of this agreement. i read that is what you wrote issue you had great ideas there. we will find friends in the white house and elsewhere trying to fix whatever is needed to be fix because issues of iran become nuclear was and is problematic strategic danger that israel face. in this content we have hopeful to find the administration that can understand our passions, our fears, our ideas, our vision and work together with us in a way that will ensure the success of both america and israel. we'll make israel and america great again. thank you. [ applause ] >> okay.
itamar. >> thank you. it's a pleasure to be back here to see some familiar face and new faces. and i will present some of the different perspective. i'm not spiking for the government i'm speaking for myself. american israeli relations in a way by lateral or bilateral american/israeli relationship i'm sure he will bear me support of you that were day one it was always a question of america and the middle east. for many years israel struggle with the question are we expected because of shared
values or because we are strategic asset, an ally. the purpose with regard to that relationship has been an effort to bring the two together to create a situation where the two are not in contradiction. democratic ally sharing the same values as the united states. this culminated for 16 years during the clinton and second bush administration. for 16 years from 1992 to 2008, israel 16 years of unprecedented close relationship between israel are different administrations. the issue of tension between
u.s. is ral support for allies has been reduced beginning with the peace process of the 1970s and henry kiss enger explain to give up beneficiary of which would be the soviet union. we pressure israel to make the deal getting back sign nigh not in moscow. egyptian/israeli peace treaty of 1979. it blossomed during the peace process of the 1990s and the united states orchestraed a peace process. united states was the key to that peace process.
and it was into ar techture let united states help contain the two dangerous regional powers in iraq and aran in the east while rewith settling the tension in the core area in the middle east by promoting peace between israel and immediate anybodies. george w. bush was different. bush letter through prime minister sha ran. but we were brought together by war on terror when is ral was on the right side on the war on terror. 9/11 totally transformed the bush administration. so in addition to being able to settle two powers of the leadership the values and
strategies. two countries, the president and prime minister are key relations. when they have the close relationship the relationship thrives. it happens between clinton famously. but also with bush and sharon and with themes had very close relationship almost daily talk between the chief of staff and the prime minister national security adviser. it came to an end as minister told us when the obamacare came into power. it happened here and israel. when america went left, israel went right. in obama entered white house january 20 and things begin to
di vengs from day one there's two chemistry between the two. differents on policy. two specific issues the palestinian issue and the iranian issue with the overall view of the region. if you go back to the cairo speech by president obama, his vision of the region would not israel vision of the region. and then again, he pressured israel to respond to the iraq spring by taking initiative on palestinian issue and said the israel should be on the right side of history. he used term more than one. it was to the right side of the history. israel should join rather than try to keep the status quo.
if you recall president obama's interview to the atlantic his defense of foreign policy and regional policy and you go back to outlook on what we call pragmatic arab, if you go back to the question of administration's response to the fall of president mu bab rack in issues, she's are issues had different view of the region. let say something about how israel views the region. it's been since the beginning of this century, the region has gone tremendous changes and definite gr demographically i want to
mention the changes. not complete but definitely unwilling and invest in not invest militarily dangerously in the case of the syrian crisis. secondly, russian's return actor in the game most agreesously demonstrated since end of 2015 when russian became key actor. many others expense in syria. so crisis of the third world. states key states, preoccupied with issues, third world is in a bad period from its own perspective. while two major powers are joined fully the mied middle
eastern system. turkey and iran. 2003. and turkey is the presidency. this dramatic development. these successes state to the two empires for many centuries, perrian dynasty for different reason from not full or participatants in the region, they are now. large powerful states more than 18 million each. strong economies, large military forces, participating in the politics of the region and chapping it. need to deal with that change. so israel asked itself, how do i fit into the region what would i
like to see in the region which takes us to the current moment. clearly not given prior thought to the question of what middle east they would like to see. speaking specifically about issues such as iran, terrorism, palestinian issue, relationship with israel but not offering a view for the region. i think it would be good and useful if prime minister coming here next month and as we communicate to try to come to as much of a common vision of the region as we can in order to help the region and help our own relationship. i would like to offer the way i see how we can think together and work together on major
issue. one, russia. there's been loose talk about american/russian relation. if it's going to be bargain if it's going to take place would affect middle east and more specifically the syrian issue. does russia wants to take such a deem. is syria going to be an important port of it. if so, what does washington want to have and what does russia have to offer. russia wants stability and quiet. it's not that loan in support iran is russia willing to abandon this relationship with iran in syria. can it leave in stability and quiet or try to push maintenance
of the asset rule. if peace and quiet let ba shad as sad control 80% of the syria is that going to acceptable. how about turkey, which is now absence of american leadership has been drifting in the direction of russia. does turkey want to have russia as a neighbor south of its border. that's more question marks that is answer. this is question russia and then connected to the russian is syria. something needs to be done about you current kriscy in syria. human point of view unacceptable and it's upsets stability in the
region, it threaten the sfablt of europe and creates more issue in the ref agrees and immigration and there's a need to settle it. is there -- i would say this, a perfect solution is not available. a good solution is not readily available. to come back as a major player in the politics of the region to make a decision with the united states wants to play a role similar to the one it played in decades in the middle east that would be welcome to israel. there's question of fixing the relationship with the sunni allies. not to speak to them about the
way it was done in the atlantic interview but to look at the egyptians, moroccan, friends not allies of the united states. to work with them. that needs to be done. israel as we know has still under the stable on the whole good working relationship with many of these states and if you can become in a way bilateral relationship united states israel and prague matic states in the system. finally the pan stanian issue, the relationship between -- first of all, it's an issue that needs to be address from our point of view. it's something that israel needs
to deal with because israel needs to deal with the issue of course it effects israel relationship with the rest of the world the relationship with the sunni with washington itself. i would like to offer as a premise to say the final two states solution to final state is available around the corner right now. in an effort to negotiate such an solution tomorrow, it's likely to fail and perhaps produce something similar to what happened after the second conference. but interim solution is available. it's not acceptable at this point to the palestinian leadership. their policy is everything or nothing. if prime minister of israel is willing to make the conception
that israel have to make for that to happen. and willing to try to persuade the america this is what the united states should do in the event he does want to invest, i think we have collaboration as well. many questions mark, many issues to deal with. thank you, very much. [ applause ] >> thank you, very much. for really wide ranging remarks. start to both of you, i think for minister henegbi, if you were look at the reports of possible meeting prime minister and president in february, what do you think is you're saying
about what went wrong in the last eight years. also there were good things that security intel that israeli officials talk about as well. if you had to say what is key for this prime minister in establishing in those in that first meeting what would be point to because you're going to get asked about this i might as well put it out there. for example on issue of u.s. embassy to jerusalem, what would you see are key sets of understandings on how u.s. and israel will deal with each other. you pointed to your relationship at top is crucial. besides iran sanctions, settlements, is there another area i would like principal to establish early on, at least
certain principals you would like. you touched on sunni/israel underthe table relationship which is one of the bright spots in the middle east right now because there's no shortage of challenges and the like but you mentioned the importance, you used the word it would be welcome to the u.s. to play a greater role and u.s. get closer. for somehow israel would fit into that whether through formal arrangement or informal
understandings: >> thank you, david. the meeting supposed to take place in february. hopeful it's going to be february 26th that's my birthday. i'm going to be 20th for the third time. 20 years old. the reason i want the prime minister not to come here before the 26th he supposed to be australia. it's first visit since israel was established it was respond several times. once in gaza on 2014. president was supposed to be there and could not make it. i was just in australia i know how anxious they are to host the
prime minister. but whatever it takes place it is an important meeting. those two leaders are good friends. they know each other. they met, they spoke. this first time that prime minister comes to the president of the united states. probably so many issues to discuss. i'm not sure that the palestinian issue is going to be first most important on the agenda. i'm sure it's not. the palestinian will come to senses and get back to the negotiating stable and we'll see what the united states wants or can help us find the way to run our -- what we have learned from the peace we have with jordon since 1993 and with egypt since
1978 and the parties sit with each other they bring put on the table everything that they have, their interests, frustration, despair, emotions, history, everything. the way to get agreement is to find common denominator within themselves. it was between began and his team and su dat and his team. more than a year before sa dabbing was crazy enough to come and speak his mind and told us all no more war, no more bloodshed, it was moving, exciting, and strong and it lead
later on to the success of the peace talks. and it's still working. we have -- with egypt we have good relationship. based on common interests to fights terrorism and ensure stability with the middle east. the same with jordan. the king was had relation with israel before the six day war after after the 1973 war and afterwards and did not need icc decision or european parliament or american administration encouraging him to go forward and get to an agreement with rebenz government. it's working very good. we want to do it with the palestinian. we will discuss with the president the major issues i
think were touched on here. we need to find the way to make a relationship with our world more powerful. sunni world. we share the same interests and being challenged by the same enemies. isis, radicals islam, iran. they are are the enemies. it's no the jewish devil. it's for them to go public with it. with the work of the united states and the understanding of the need to bring about such an all inclusive alliance, the new world that is there's will be
more exposed and powerful. instead under the table it has to be above the table. what we believe is that the strengthening of the world, and other countries will make it easier for the palestinian for the pragmatic palestinians to be part of this development not to be so much afraid they will be isolated. courageous move on that part all the enemies of peace try to isolate them if the arab world under giving them support making them understand it's their utmost interest to put an end to this conflict it would be much
more feasible to achieve such an agreement. i'm sure this will be discussed with the new administration. i would discuss also the need for the united states to acknowledge israel sovereignty. today there's no more syria there. you don't want rebels or others to sit on the threatening the north putting the legs in the emergency -- united states could not in the past accept annexation in 1981. but history changed world has changed. the new administration can be dealing can syria/russian/is balance issue. giving legitimacy of the
powerful move by the united states. of course in the relevant context of the all-inclusive context of what's going to happen in syria. there's so much i'm not going to touch, but these are major issues that will be discussed. the most is iran issue but that's not going to be discussed in a public manner. thank you. >> let me respond directly the question, david, comment on henegbi statement. i doubt there will be open relationship. there was such a relationship in the late 50s not but the arab but israel policy with turkey
and iran and etheopia. i doubt i think that for a while, we will see more under the table than over the table. there's a way of helping to transform the relationship and also help the united states and that's why responding to the issue of the arab issue, many on the right wings, speak enthusiastic about the original solution to the palestinian issue. there's to prospect of copping to agreement but a deal should be made with the arab world and
passed on to palestinians. now, there's something unique in the following way. it is easier for the israeli public to accept these arab world than the palestinian, there's unstated but real sense in israel that the israeli palestinian relevant conflict. not with the arab state with the interests can be complementary. concessions made and agreements made with the arab states are easy to market in the political are arena. arabs can offer concessions that would make easier to -- if you recall on the way to cairo,
president obama wanted to offer -- as part of the deal he met negative response. but if if israel responds to the initiative and the arabs come in issue can be -- i said respond and except arab original one and 2007 one is not relevant. it's short document it's look likes dicta than a plan. syria is not a parter of this component. but there's no been israeli response. even minister tried to negotiate with both of them did not
respond to the initiative. a response for or less like o.k., we are willing with respond, it needs to be formulated in more specific terms, but israel is willing to talk would be a step forward. if if the administration decides it wants to sit together with israel to revive notion entering agreement tweep between israel and palestinian, and arabs it could be way of elevating this whole relationship. my brief comments on mr. henegbi statement. undue the deed than not going to work. but to enforce the deed because
the iranians are not keeping to make sure iran is not enforcing it. these are three issues israel and united states can come together and find broad support for. heights with respect i agrees. i think it would be bad idea for is ral real to make about the -- the word annexation. doesn't want to see arab state change. iraq, syria, other states, are there, but it's important for the i rabs to keep them territory and integrity because they are afraid it you move one the world would collapse. so at this point, israeli
settlements there are. it's not an issue and not for a long time. it's not an issue why are you race raise it, why turn problem what already is come flex issue. let whatever animals that are sleeping, sleep. >> dennis. both presentations were interesting. one comment and question for each you. the comment is it is true that historically, chemistry between presidents and prime minister have been useful in terms of shaping a relationship that chemistry has not bp great even
in administrations that end up doing things well today. the reagan administration being a good example. even afterwards it improved but it was never that great. yet the reagan administration ending up establishing strategic cooperation with israel and drove relationship shaped on values and interest. i would backdrop i would say with upcoming visit, maybe it is to be certain there's a kind of broad understanding of the approaches of the region. here i would say one of the problems i think with the obama wasn't just chemistry, it was also both of you eluted to this, president obama was internationalist but minimalist. we know that he has an interest in isis but we doesn't know if
he has an interest in having united states remain involved as a power within the middle east that's profoundly in israel's interest. united states needs to strong israel in the region but israel needs a strong united states. i i would focus heavily strategically in the upcoming meeting talking about what are the important strategic interests we have in area because it will affect natural security interests. one thing we learn about in the middle east over the last 17 years the las vegas rules don't apply. meaning what stays in the middle east stays in the middle east. i would keep in this mind and i would possess the question to each of you. would you think a reaffirm
nation of the bush strong letter that would be something that's of interests to the prime minister when he comes. it would be an achievement and that letter itself has implications for how israel may approach the settlement issues. to itamar, giving the issues you have raised what you're talking with regard to kind quiet understanding possibly three way understandings where would issue of the jerusalem embassy fit into that kind of conversation. >> the issue of. >> embassy. >> for listeners who are not familiar with the letter it was written in april of 2004 it was at time when prime minister sha roan wantsed to withdraw from
gaza felt he could get to quit pro-quo so he approaches president bush and letter contain deal with the israeli and palestinian they go back to 1949 armist line which almost the same approximately the same pre1967 line there would be major population senators setments block 8% of the land even 5% of the land inside what is known today security pair barrier. this issue of the letter returns and there's lot of speculation, i have in washington that prime minister net yaw hoo is going to look not reaffirmation of that letter. it gets to the question of
sett settlement blocks being the focus. that part is not the letter. that's why it's been a lot of issue it's going to reassert itself in the time of the visit or the aftermath of the visit. >> we understand the hint not to go there. i agree with your assessment about the chemistry is not such an important component and i can say that even though let's say prime minister net hue was --
the administration helped israel in so many ways that all of them are known, not all of them were made public intelligence, political beck can support from various international forums, they knew netanyahu ensuring $38 billion to israel beginning from 2018. military cooperation, and they 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 and you can have
emotional reactions but the alliance is alive and kicking and strong and going all the time. being encouraged. it's going to happen to every administration in the future. this disagree with my friend i'm not going to relate to it. we will be invited again to deal with this issue hopefully one day when the syrian issue will be more relevant. but about about the iran, i do have to say something. i'm not calling for tearing the agreement jcp apart but the arannians have inherented
structure trust to comply with the agreement. maybe they violate it, maybe they won't. get on the sanctions relieved, get the world invest in them. get the economy richer and richer, and one time comes and that's where the various paragraphs of the agreement expire, they're free to have unlimited enrichment facilities sps as they want. if they want 190,000 working, the agreement legitimate stability. they will have the rnd during
the time so they don't need so many centrifuges to have the materials needed for hundreds of bombs to be break out state and to be situation where as president obama put it sincere way in an interview given at the time there would be week from achieving the capability of reaching the armorment. but i think that just wait williing for them to be tough it's a big poli mistake. to have patients.
it's a persian empire. allowed them to be located. so we cannot just sit back and be terrorized. we are to be many things. the issue of them breaking the region with the united nations -- influence in the region and others, but these issues are working for israel and united states alike. they are more important for the arab world we did it in 1981 and 2007 but we know who cannot do it. saudi arabia did not do it.
egypt, jordan, uae, kwar tar. disassociating themselves from the issue. praising as a great legacy. so it has to be challenged again. it is not public issue yet. it has to be challenged. the israeli leadership understands that as time passes it become difficult to challenge it is thank god we have an administration that understand the importance of this new challenge. did you ask about embassy before. >> i asked about the sha roan letter. >> it would be not diplomatic for me to relate because i'm
unlike my friend i'm representative of the israeli government and these are sensitive times. so i can relate to it but not in a public forum unfortunately. thank you. speaking of sensitive issues, the embassy, it is sensitivity on our front very much so sunni up states. there are jordan and morocco have a standing with regard to muslim places and jerusalem. also much what we discuss is small between israel with region not necessarily with the public and the example of selling gas to jordan is very telling when the public demonstration against
something government or the region decide to do. for jordon's best interest. the issue of transferring the embassy to jerusalem is likely to -- if he say pursued without precaution it's like to generate powerful public reaction in muslim world include sunni pragmatic states. i think we are behind the curve because the trump administration itself is realized that what was could be said during the first days needs to be adjusted to reality. it is administration in the midst of learn. and without knowledge.
just guessing trying find a creative approach that would enable to president to live with commitments without em broaden the region. >> which seems to kinds of put a go much quieter on issue is it temporary pause unless prime minister caomes or do you see easing away from the campaign pledge. it's interest that stirred a lot of interests in the washington, as you can imagine. >> testimony could be moved to a mu na where there are new places now that is better than -- are you okay? >> it's a joke. >> the people of harmoan ya are
worked about parking programs. >> i think the decision is long overdue. every american administration could not stand up to its commitment and i have instinct that the current administration will make this decision. but i agree, it's going to take its time and they will have to do it not in hasty way but to consider how to make it in a way that really only correction of abnormality. not many know, in israel, or arab world people understand that in 1948, one of the few countries in the world is it not recognize jerusalem as the
capital city of israel was the united states. that did locate its embassy in tell vif with nothing to do with the israel palestinian 1967 conflict or any annexation. this was something that was very, very problematic beginning of our relationship we did not have such an alliance in '48 so it was something that was accepted as something that we have to live with that would change. but now, i think it's a burden. on the french on the intimate relationship. we cannot by threats or warning to bring about the fire because it has nothing to do with the peace process. it is to the going to determine
the final stages of jerusalem which has to do about recognize sizing the wayside of israel as the subdivision in 1948. it's not about emotions or rationale thinking. i believe and hope administration will find a way to stand up to the commitment. it's not about israel did not beg for it or ask for it it's about administration that haved agreed upon back in 1995 and every six months it's being waived due to united states author or power. it's been congress and left, right, every israel praise unjust decision to be changed
and hopefully it will happen. >> i'm not every one aware of this nuance about jerusalem. am i hering you correctly, it's rectifying a historic anomaly and not recognizing the whole city under sovereignty. >> 100%. i wanted to be sure. >> itamar mentioned return of turkey to the middle east. i want to ask mr. henegbi, what do you see of the israel/turkey process. can you make specific reference to their role in gaza to
security possibility that have been meeting, the margins of another meeting and the israeli chief of staff and the turkey chief of stal and how do you balance that with the relations you have developed with the atlantic world. >> with whom. the atlantic world. >> we have great theme to it. strategic relationship with turkey for a long time even during the primary relationship. i visited as a minister several times. i have great encounters with my colleague. we know what happened, the language, and later on with the
sentiments of visa vi what happened in gaza and islamic affiliation and he felt victims. and he was -- we know everything of course. there were also political 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 marmara. so the prime minister took advantage of the fact that president obama at the time mediated a phone call between him and erdogan and israel apologized. israel agreed to sign an agreement accepting the based on humanitarian reasons to
compensate families altogether i think ten, ten turkish terrorists that died during this confrontation in mavi marmara. the ambassador came back, our ambassador came back, and i think the energy issue there of the gas, the natural gas that we have found plays an important role in the understanding of turkey and of israel. because 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 he has this tendency, every three or four years he forgets what happened in the last confrontation and provokes us again. and we have to do whatever we have to do to defend ourselves. and it might again influence the
israeli-turkish relationship. but it seems like greek, greece, cypress, turkey, we have relationship with each and every country now based on our mutual ways of having our projects together, energy. with cypress we're figuring together how to cooperate. with greece we have a lot of cooperation in various aspects. we have very good relations with the new government in greece, even though it's a left one. they're very much sympathetic to 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 and regional debates that there unfortunately still exists. >> do you want to say anything? >> yeah. just to -- just to add to all of
this the issue of syria, i think. there turkey has huge interest in turkey. focus too much on the syria issue. one of the important by-products of the syrian crisis has been to reveal something, the fundamental weaknesses in the fabric of the turkish state itself. it's always been assumed turkey's one powerful sector in the middle east. and it turned out that this is not the case. that the sense of frailty and threat to the foundations of the turkish state by the prospects of the kurdish sovereignty either in syria or iraq or both, so powerful that it became the driving, driving force. at some points as we witnessed that turkey preferred isis over the kurds in syria.
now of course with the call it russian-iranian victory in aleppo, the pressure on turkey has eased somewhat. but as we proceed in dealing with the u.s. and the syrian crisis continues to unfold and the prospect of potential russian-american deal and so forth come to the horizon, the question of turkey's input into all of this and what the turks really want remain big question marks on the agenda. >> okay. allen gersin. the mike 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 on. and the first that seems to me
would be an interest in getting an assessment from israel as to now it how views assad. and given with the military victories and consolidation he has been able to gain with the help of the iranian forces and the russian forces. and the second question relates to a very interesting op-ed piece 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 diplomatic initiative, whether it's directly with the palestinians or between some larger coalition of arab states. so perhaps you could comment as to what you think an israeli answer to those questions might be. >> the second question i totally agree with martin. i think the refugee issue is much more problematic because i
haven't heard any palestinian leader, prominent leader so far disassociating themselves from this dream of right of return, of getting back to acre and safad and nazi ra and jaffa. they say in closed rooms they understand it's a no starter, but it's really important what is happening in closed rooms because at the end this will have to go to a referendum, both in israel and among the palestinians. and if you don't teach the palestinian people that this is not going to happen, that it is something that no israeli sane leader left or right can accept, and the palestinian refugees will have to find their solution and their aspiration implemented in the two-state, two-people solutions and not in the 1948
areas. so you are either going to be killed or lose a referendum. i don't see even a beginning of understanding among the pragmatic palestinian people that this is a must education issue in the country. you know what we see. the incitement and the other stuff. so i believe this is much more problematic than finding a creative solution to the -- our inhabitants of jerusalem or creating an idea for the holy basin. and remind me the first question. >> assad. >> assad, yes. well, we have five years virtual debate in israel about what is better, assad, the devil we know or some kind of replacement, the
devil we don't know. and it's virtual because there is no need for israel decision about it or israeli, you know, policy about it because it's not up to us to decide. we are not going to make any real difference or to have an impact. but my personal decision in this debate that participating in is the best scenario is that assad is out. i think it's the biggest blow to iran and hezbollah in the region. and they think so. this is why they fight for years to make assad survive. this is why thousands of hezbollah fighters are spilling their blood. many of them were killed and wounded and crippled to achieve this goal. this is why iran, they didn't put boots on the ground, but they send thousands of militia
people. many are the iranian commanders were killed already. but they invest in it because they understand the ramifications of syria not being led by a supporter of the radical front headed by iran. so i think this is if it will happen, it will be great news for the world, for the west, for israel, for the lebanese. for the real people, the peaceful, wishful people of syria who would love i think a leadership representing the people, not a segment or minority. but this is practically virtual. and my friend itamar thinks more about it maybe. it's interesting to hear.
>> itamar, could you weigh in what you studied your whole life? >> sure. briefly about martin's idea, part of the problem with trying to negotiate israeli-palestinian issue, the issue is that we've been at it for a very long time. and almost everything has been tried ad nauseam. so if somebody comes up with an out-of-the-box idea, it's worth thinking about. and i would say if negotiations have to resume, of course they should be prepared. you don't just send delegations into the room. let's try to find out whether there is anything in practice in trying if we come to the point of trying to prepare for a negotiation. now in israel and assad, i'm oftentimes a critic of the current israeli government, but not on syria. i think it has acted responsibly. it's kept us out of the crisis.
it acted at points and places where action was required. and the whole has done very well. i think the debate that has raged -- maybe rage is not the right term. but it took place in israel during the past five years between the devil we know and the other school is not been decided. clearly the government i think correctly understands that assad staying in power is bad for israel. i would say for the following -- first of all, sometimes we can take also a moral position. i think it is wrong for the international community to support a mass murderer staying in power. milosevic is the president of serbia. you know, it's not acceptable, morally speaking. second, this would be a victory for the coalition of russia,
iran, assad and hezbollah. this is bad for israel because we know the hezbollah has already tried to establish itself in southern syria. and to extend the line of confrontation with israel into the golan heights. that's where they would go. more concretely, if the current trend continues with russian and iranian help, assad continues to crush focus of opposition and push southward, eventually south of syria would become an arena of fighting between regime and possibly embroil both jordan and israel. so it's an issue that needs to be thought through. it's one area in which the united states, moderator of state jordan and israel could very well collaborate.
>> hill fratkin back there. and then we'll take a few in a row. next to hillah. >> thanks very much for all your remarks. the question i wanted to raise stems from a remark that ambassador rabi novich made concerning an interim solution with the palestinians. one is i take it from that suggestion that you agree with minister hanegbi that obama's approach was fatal to any reasonable negotiations, but there now exists some possibility of negotiation. and the second is what do you see the interim settlement to solution to be? >> okay. >> let's do three in a row here right next. could you identify yourself,
please? >> i'm the polish assistant defense attache. and my question, i have two questions. first regards the momentum in the u.s.-israeli cooperation. and possible palestinian peace talks. do you think that there is still a role for the european union, and how will they increase the cooperation u.s. and israel have, what kind of influence will it have on the relations with the european union? so that's the first question. and the second one is for syria. do you think that perhaps part of the talks of your prime minister with president trump would be possible you say in syria in terms of there will be a rapprochement between u.s. and russia on syria and cooperation? will you have, do you think, and is it in your interest to have a part, to s have a say on the
future solutions in syria? also in terms of pushing back iran from syria. thank you. >> yeah? >> i have a general question about the strategic importance of the middle east. there are different reports, studies that indicate that oil will run out for the middle east in the next 30 years. what implications do you think that has for israel in general for the importance of the middle east on the world scene? >> okay. all right. so good. we're going to allow the -- our panelists here to respond to these three sets of questions and conclude. to recap, if i have this correctly, hilal's question is to what extent if you could articulate what an interim agreement would look like and contrast it 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 rapprochement. and a question about the role of oil -- [ inaudible ] >> let me go first. you see the issue is this. people sometimes describe the situation as the tension between the quest for over a settlement and continuation of the status quo. so my two points of departure are these. one is it's impossible right now to find a comprehensive settlement. and two, the regional status quo.
what we call the status quo is actually a drift towards annexation. it's creeping annexationism. and one of the things that israel can offer in an interim agreement is to stop that process. the bush -- the revival of the bush-sharon letters has been mentioned. before this could be one element of agreeing on the blocks and the construction just inside the blocks. of course i'm free from coalition considerations in israel, and i can say that. >> yeah, maybe you'll join politics. >> okay. you see, i come home with at least one offer. >> he didn't say which party. >> thirdly, area c, 60% of the west bank is area c. much could be done to offer to the palestinians in area c.
the economic reconstruction of gaza. i know that to reduce the human pressure cooker and so forth. and i could go on. i think about 10 elements that do not touch on the final status issues would lead to a significant improvement in standard of life in the west bank and gaza and could stabilize the situation. but of course the main obstacle is the pa's leadership is absolutely dead opposed because they say an interim settlement becomes the fact of a final settlement. tained have to confront the issue what do they prefer, continuing drift to successionism or interim settlement. in terms of the middle east, yes. one of the changes in the region
during this century has been the decline in its importance. to a large extent because of the declining importance of middle eastern oil and the rise of opportunities. and part of the underlying reasons for the american people away from the region has to do precisely with this. >> thank you. about europe, i'm in charge of some of the context of the relationships between the israeli and europe. i represent israel in the discussions with european union. and i'm going to attend this special meeting dedicated to those relationship in brussels next month. i just came back from a meeting in barcelona with the higher
representative in the european union. and we always emphasize our need and readiness and hope to have very close relations with europe. europe is our best trade partner. we have so many connections with so many countries in europe. and we would like to see the european approach to the middle east conflict in a more balanced, balanced way. automatic acceptance of the palestinian approach. still, many countries in europe share our views about this conflict. and a since in the european union you need a unanimous decision, it helps us sometimes to minimize the tension with europe. but we do feel that now with the new administration, there is
also a room for more european involvement. of course with the more balanced approach and europe can play a role because they are much closer to the palestinians than the united states is. and maybe some kind of a triangle can occur and motive the palestinians to go back to the negotiation table. we have many projects with europeans in order to encourage projects, civil projects, economical projects in judea, assu sumaria, the west bank, the release of committee ever september and i see how important is the european contribution to the very life of the palestinians both in gaza and in the west bank.
it's important to bring them on board and to do it with cooperation with israel and the palestinian authority. now i was appointed to be the minister of original cooperation whose mandate is to cooperate with jordan, with egypt, with the palestinians, without neighboring countries, with the help of europe and other places in the world. in order to at least till we have the final arrangement to a lot of palestinians to build their own institution, to have a more solid economy, to have infrastructure that will allow them in due time to become a functioning state. about syria, the last remark is itamar said it, put it. we were very cautious about doing anything in syria. we only made some red lines concerning the fact that we don't want to see smuggling of
state-of-the-art weapons from iran to syria to the hands of hezbollah. because it is going to make them more motivated whenever there will be freed from the la-z-boy to again provoke israel to again be the aggressor. and we don't want this to happen, another round of violence. another interest of us as was mentioned before, to prevent the implement or the syrian-iranian hezbollah front to use the syrian golan height in order to infiltrate israel, the building of terrorist cells in golan height in the fact that it's no no-man's land there. so we did have to take actions
several times. we prevented it from happening. we intercept it. and since then we see that this strategy was put aside and we hope that's going to be the situation in the future. thank you. >> all right. i want to thank our panelists. and i hope you join me in thanking them for a very wide ranging discussion. and i'm sure as the new administration here takes shape in washington and the prime minister comes and visits, this issue will be very much come to the fore. so i really want to thank you for getting us started here in 2017 on this issue. and more discussions to come. thank you all very, very much for coming. thank you. c-span's "washington journal" live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up tuesday morning, california democratic congressman ted lieu will
discuss president trump's executive orders on extreme vetting. the announcement of a supreme court nominee, and his view on key trump administration cabinet picks. then pennsylvania republican congressman lou barletto will be on. be sure to watch c-span's "washington journal" live at 7:00 a.m. eastern tuesday morning. join the discuss. on tuesday, the senate judiciary committee holds a markup meeting to vote on the nomination of alabama senator jeff sessions to be the next u.s. attorney general. if he receives enough votes in committee, the nomination moves to the senate floor for debate and a final vote. you can watch the meeting live at 9:30 a.m. eastern here on c-span3. also tuesday, the senate begins debate on the nomination of elaine chao to be the next u.s. transportation secretary. lawmakers start the debate at noon eastern followed by a final
confirmation vote at 12:20 p.m. watch the senate live on c-span2. and tuesday night president trump announces his supreme court pick to replace justice antonin scalia who died last february. he'll speak at 8:00 p.m. eastern. we'll have that live on c-span2. afterwards we'll take your phone calls and comments. each week in this segment of the "washington journal," we take a look at how your money sat work in a different federal program. this week we're going to be talking about how how much certain student loan repayment plans are costing federal taxpayers. melissa emrey-arras is our guest. she is with the government accountability office. first, take us through the balance sheet for the federal government when it comes to student loans. how much has been loaned out? how many borrowers are out there? >> so we looked at the cost of the student loan program and found that for a person of the loans, these