tv International Peace Discussion CSPAN July 28, 2013 2:05am-3:01am EDT
the house has a subcommittee on immigration and border security for women and undocumented immigrants. youthe house has a subcommitteey beginning at 10:35 eastern right here on c-span. this past week, jimmy carter took part in the discussion regarding the isreali- palestinian conference. isreali-palestinian officials average an agreement for resuming peace talks. a group of world leaders have been brought together by the former south african president nelson mandela to work on peace and human rights. this is just under an hour.
>> good afternoon. thank you all for coming. we are honored to have with us so many distinguished members of the club, even though the elders club has been formed six years ago by president mandela of south africa, this is the first public event for the club and we are very honored it takes place in washington. of course, we have with us president carter. i do not need to go through the introduction. and the u.n. envoy to syria. president ahtisaari is also -- [laughter] the 2 -- the focus for this
paid. meetings in beijing and paris will follow. today, they held talks with secretary kerry and susan rice, mainly on the middle east and why they are not in a position to tell us what they told them, exactly. we would be hearing from them about matters regarding the peace process and what needs to be done. i thought i would ask of your impression of where matters stand. what can we expect from the latest initiative of carries and the upcoming negotiations and people are still skeptical whether negotiations will need to break through or whether we will see another endless process. you have been a peace negotiator who has been able to bring the two sides together. what can you tell us about the latest round in what can we look for that might offer us more hope? >> thank you first of all for letting us come and thank you for coming to be with us.
i think it is accurate to say the elders have taken upon ourselves the responsibility of probing -- probing for progress in the middle east. this is one of the primary charges we got. visits to the middle east, to israel, west bank, and gaza. as well as to jordan, lebanon, and egypt. we have been able to keep in close contact with all those countries and leaders as best we
can. on my left, he has been responsible for the peace process in syria. before that, the now chair, was the convoy for peace in syria. in many ways, the elders remained quite deeply involved in the struggle for peace. we have a few characteristics. none of us are involved in politics directly. many people have described us as has been politicians. one of our requisites for membership is that we do not hold any public office.
one of our members stepped down when she was elected to the parliament. that was -- we meet with him, we choose, and we say what we really believe and we are not constrained by whether or not we will be reelected or put it is -- positions of authority. that has given us a chance to meet regularly, as we wish, with the leadership in hamas. we also go to north korea to bring some relationships with north korea. we go where we with -- wish. we have an insight we always share at the end of our sessions with leaders directly involved and who still hold public off this -- office. a personal report is always send
very soon after we get back from the trip, in which i am involved from the elders. all of the elders have our own organizations to pursue. mayor robertson is one of the groups. she is the commissioner on human rights. she has been given a choice by the united nations to deal with the great lakes region, which includes rwanda and the congo and also uganda. she is working on that. she is with us today. she had to leave to go to another meeting. they would be with us today but they have been in russia meeting with the foreign minister to meet and talk about some of the same subjects. our next visit to the members of the security council, that would be going to moscow. that is what we do in general.
we have seen with great pleasure and excitement the intense efforts john kerry has made to recommence the peace process in the middle east after five years of a wreck we essence date. no one has known exactly what he is doing because his mission has been very quiet. we also know from the news media, i am not quoting anything john kerry has told us, but we have known netanyahu has a coalition in israel that is heavily dependent on extreme, white -- right wing groups, but one state that controls all of the area, he is quite dependent in his government for their support.
that opens up a very good chance that we should include a peace agreement based on anything concerning settlements. forming a new coalition is a possibility. on the other hand, the head of the plo has very low support, politically speaking, from his own people, and certainly not from hamas, who are now concentrated their in gaza. both leaders are in adversarial worlds in the holy land and are seriously constrained by their own constituency.
if and when they come to the peace talks, they will have shown a great deal of courage, politically and personally, in bringing about this chance they might be embarrassed later when they have to make some concessions. we have very much been impressed about the massive effort being made, not just to bring them to the peace table, but also trying to correct some of the devastating blows done against the palestinian community economically. there are so many things that can be done, in palestine, to abbreviate, to improve and make sure they have some insurance. so they can at least survive and have an economic life of their own. this is what has been going on so far. we also met with a ceo this morning and he explained what he thought were some of the attitudes of the american jewish
community. i believe from my own experience that if and when progress is being made, which will happen, a solution with an independent and free and safe israel living next-door to a palestinian palestinian state, that they would have support not only on a worldwide basis. i think we will reserve my time related to any questions you specifically might have. thank you for giving me this chance. >> thank you, mr. president. i would like to turn down -- turn now to give us an update of these negotiations in an extremely difficult problem. >> it is a pleasure and an honor to be here and to see many friends, very distinguished people. it is always a pleasure for me.
i am sure everybody here is familiar with the situation in syria. i don't need to hide the depressing numbers that characterized the situation. 100,000 dead. 2 million at least, maybe three, maybe four, maybe five. the destruction you will see on your screen every night. that makes cities in syria look like pictures of berlin, 1945. to say that the situation is bad would be an understatement. the situation is bad and getting worse. it has been getting worse for two years now.
the important thing to mention here is that, at long last, the russians and the americans have gotten together and a little bit of what they have said is what i've just told you. it is extremely dangerous, not only for the city, but also for the region. we americans and russians believe -- but a political solution is necessary and we americans and russians are going to work together and with others to see this political process happen. we saluted this development with a great deal of hope when it happened on the seventh of may of this year. and secretary kerry have met several times with him since and they will meet again in a couple of weeks. the united nations has met with both of them. we have met with russia twice.
we will try to see what are the conditions necessary to bring about that would make an international conference, a u.n. conference on syria with good success. i do not think we have those conditions already there. but i think everybody is working to get those conditions. the elements are there. they have been there for exactly one year. one year and a few weeks. on the 30th of june this last year, there was a conference organized thanks to my predecessor. and the results of that conference was a detailed sketch of what the solution of -- for serious should be. the idea now is to organize another conference that is referred to -- this time, we hope there will be, we hope there must be, delegations, because geneva has said what is
needed is to bring the syrian regime together so they can put together a plan and a process to implement the decision. this is what we are trying to, these are the conditions we are trying to make -- create. we are just discussing directly or indirectly with the government of syria and damascus. with the neighbors of syria, because i think it is not a secret it is dangerously mutating into a regional conflict. ask the jordanians and they will tell you there are two countries -- i do not know what word to use. they are sinking under the weight. i think you have one million, more than one million in georgia. someone was telling me the other day the second city of importance in the country is now inhabited by almost -- 50% of its inhabitants are serious. if you remember the few refugees who went to italy from olivia two years ago, the whole world was up in arms. about 20,000 people. having already more than one million refugees, and, i think it is more or less, every day, and it is still continuing up to 6000 refugees. a little bit elsewhere.
country and also to their history i am sure there are many of you who know syria who know how rich a country this is. now, in hollis, there is a church that goes back to the year 67. it has been destroyed. there is a mosque that has also been destroyed. the mosque has been destroyed. the market has been burned. of course, in situations like this, you have a lot of habitats stolen and taken out of the country. it is not only the present and the future of syria under threat. it is also the past. our family history, really, is being destroyed. >> how hopeful are we that a
solution will be found? >> we are very hopeful. there is no other way but to hope and to work but it will not be easy. >> thank you very much. >> i thought we could ask you about the linkages between syria and palestine, including the roles they could play. what do you make of all of these linkages? >> i was asked by my colleagues to come to new york and talk. and to find out what their attitudes were. i was in new york in february of last year. [indiscernible] [laughter] [indiscernible] >> i met the representative because the american and chinese
capitals -- i must say, while i was there, it was there to take up the special invoice task. i was extremely disappointed the members were so engaged and were starting to talk. they are permanent members and i am an old u.n. hand, as many of you know. i always say permanent members have an important and responsible task. they have more responsibility than ordinary members. from my talks with the permanent members, i did not feel it would have been important. without going any further, --
some have nothing to do with the three countries the chairman mentioned. if i see that the permanent members are getting their acts together on other issues, as well, i mentioned north korea, it is today i see we may have a situation developing where the americans, chinese, can not actually cooperate. every opening that leaves -- leads to positivity will help in other areas as well. there is now a serious effort starting this week. that is an important element here, as well. what we hear lately, not only in washington, but in general, that we finally start feeling we -- hearing we should seriously start with political solutions
in syria, and not talk about military solutions. i think far too little has been discussed. so, what will happen if one is really serious, we -- start pursuing military options in syria. we also have positive development, as you mentioned, the new president in iraq. it definitely keeps an opening. this is the moment we have to actually talk to everybody. and start the dialogue, not only on the nuclear issues, but on other issues, as well. therefore, i hope, as i mentioned now, it will take time. but we will finally start looking for political solutions,
which i think we should have. i was disappointed because i thought there would have been openings. as a special envoy, the missions in the past, i know how brilliant the special representatives are. if they do not have the main after support, they cannot do it. that is something very important for you to understand. i do not think that [indiscernible] i mean support that will have actually led to a concrete [indiscernible] it took a long time before the united states and russia are talking. we hopefully are ending up in geneva, and seeing how we go
from there. click thank you very much. -- >> thank you very much. we open it up for questions. there are a lot of people in the room. please make your questions short. we have about 20 minutes of question time. yes, please. >> thank you, mr. president. i am a journalist. i want to ask you, after meeting with secretary kerry today, what gives you hope that this time around, there is a push forward and it is not a deja vu that harkens back to previous issues. thank you. >> i am not referring to anything the president said.
it seems to us, having met with him and having been involved with them for a long time, that this -- it has been almost a five-year absence to bring the two parties together. they bring zest to any sort of move toward a combination. that in itself is a sign. i mentioned earlier, which i need not repeat, how terrible the question is on both of the leaders to not go to the negotiating table, if it involves the most crucial element, and that is portals --
publicly because he has been promised his to major supporters on the right wing will abandon his government if he does. he will stay mute on the stand. the united states, of course, will be asked by the palestinians to repeat our position, which is long-term, that is 1967 borders, only to be changed with good face -- good faith agreement. that is the key issue. if they can address that in a substantial way, the symbolic right of return will or will not be resolved. the other thing that is always difficult is jerusalem. that is a very encouraging thing. the other thing that is very important is, with a step down, there has been a negative reaction all over the western world to the possibility of the palestinians having any economic progress. it has been announced in the
press that one of the major breakthroughs have been -- has been the israelis and americans and others are also dedicated to helping the palestinians survive, even if the israelis are cutting off their income from customs and so forth. this will put the israelis -- the palestinians back on the basis of being self-supporting during the troublesome time when they might make concessions not popular back home. i think those two things are the most important, for me. no one knows what will happen. it might be the first time and adjourned. i think there has been pressure from the palestinian people and from the israeli people to have a resolution of the issue. those with whom we meet regularly posing any sort of peace talks, my experience meeting with the leaders is that they are willing to accept a peace agreement negotiated between them if the returns are remitted for a referendum. that can be a major step if the peace terms are concluded at the negotiating table. that is a chance to bring hamas on board, even though they will not be on board in the interim. that summarizes my reasons for being much more hopeful than i was five years ago. >> what happened to resolution 242?
form of two states or apartheid in the united states? >> no, we don't have two states. we have separation and the polarization of the constituencies brought about by the massive infusion of money, most of which is spent on- advertisement that creates a division among the population and it carries over washington. the thing i am most concerned is the growing separation between the richest americans and the poorest americans.
republican states. the governing body with full executive powers, it is very clear that we will have an executive body. the transitional government, it is going to have the full executive powers and it will govern the country until the time comes for an election to take place. there is a lot of double in the details there. in geneva, it did not speak about president assad in one realm.
don't mind on syria. if you look at these -- [inaudible] >> you know, when i briefed the security council in november, people were extremely critical of me because i refused to say that the opposition was winning at that regime was living its last today. i think most people last year were convinced that they have
it is doing much better than it did in november. that is true. but situations like this, making progress and winning are two different things. look at how long it would take you to regain that. there were about 500 people. it would take weeks. two or three times it was still in the hands of the opposition. there are 2500 people in them. after five or six weeks, they have not gotten anywhere. they are doing well at the
moment but they are not doing well everywhere. that is why i end including the united states of america, we say there is no military victory for anybody. there is a lot of destruction. one day the opposition has the upper hand, the next day, it is the government. you need to get out of this vicious circle to a political process that can end this conflict.
>> perhaps we can take three or four questions at a time. >> i don't want to counter the expert but when fighting has been going on for such a long time, it becomes very difficult for those that had been opposed to accept that they should organize. and to negotiate the interim or transitional government is extremely complicated. i hope they don't keep up the possibility entirely. but asked the un to organize the elections because they are
capable of doing that. and there is enough people. >> i have not seen an election yet in the world and i want to complement them. >> we won't get involved. >> the united states does not qualify. >> thank you for being here. i have a quick question. like many people, i have been following the conflict closely. you mentioned the issue in geneva and the holdup was the members that will or will not come to the table. if you could convince everybody to get along and come to the table, who would be a crucial member? and how do you convince the people on the ground that these are legitimate representatives?
president carter, you have been a strong advocate for a peaceful solution. it is easier today than when you were president? >> let's take one more question in the back. the gentleman with the glasses. >> i would like ask you my sense of speaking with palestinian civic leaders is that there is a lot of resistance.
for peace talks. >> strong enough and courageous enough and wise enough to reach an agreement. we proceeded to make an effort. that is what john kerry faces now, even more plausible that was back in those days. it was, at both times, very difficult. the palestinian people and the israeli people want peace enough, i think as far as the palestinians are concerned, the river valley was never mentioned
as being controlled by israel until bill clinton was in office. we anticipated that israel would be torn from all of palestine. east of the green land borders. that is a difference now. i am not sure there will ever accept israel controlling the jordan river valley as well as a major portion of the west bank. they are talking about land swaps. i met with one of the most conservative leaders, and he pointed out a land swap that was intriguing that the audience might find interesting. they were going to israel, and
let them have it. that acreage of land would be granted to form a corridor between gaza and the west bank. on the corridor would be a railroad and a highly -- and a highway. it looks like a very wonderful future possibility that might occur. these things that you mentioned are very effective. i don't think there is any amount of refugee returning to israel except the very few families for a handful or a dozen with a token response. it might be to the west bank or no or else. they are difficult, and i think that the referendum is good because he says -- natanyahu will not approve anything unless
he submitted to the people for referendum. what ever the peace agreement is reached, they will accept it. it is a good way because if the leaders at the negotiating table except the peace agreement, i guarantee that the people will accept the same thing. >> the syrians do not deny that they are speaking up and divided in some many different ways. the main groups that control the opposition agree.
i think the people and the opposition understand that it will be everybody. i don't know in a very complicated way, if people have been negotiated where they would be accepted. when we completed, they were aware that you were not fully representative. but come to an agreement, just for 35 people. if we go back to afghanistan and implement this properly, nobody will remember. this agreement was signed by 35
people. this is a similar situation. if we have a family representative, we have all lot of work to do. would you like to say anything? i am afraid that is all the time we have. you are all invited on the reception -- to the reception that will take place on the ground floor. will have meetings for 10 minutes, and i would like to ask