tv Newsmakers CSPAN December 8, 2013 6:00pm-7:01pm EST
>> this week on "newsmakers" congressman adam smith joins us from seattle. we are joined in the studio by frank oliveri and craig whitlock. >> i would like to ask you about afghanistan. the obama administration thought they had fought the deal to keep the troops there 2014. that seems like it is falling apart. do you see any way of resolving this before the beginning of next year or will it stride on until afghanistan elects a new president? >> the deal has not fallen apart.
afghanistan approved it. no one has said that they are going to need to change it. president karzai has said he does not want to be the one who signs it. he is holding off on signing it until next year. it is a problem. there is no question about it. the substance is basically what both sides are comfortable with. whether or not president karzai is spilling new ideas, i do not know. it does not sound like it. it is whether or not to get so -- someone to formally sign it. the hope is we will get it signed before the elections. the impasse is his refusal to sign. >> he wanted to renegotiate. he wanted to have the afghanistan taliban members released from guantánamo. he wants no more raids or bombing of afghan houses like the one that just happens.
is this rhetoric? is it something we need to come to terms with? >> he also presented the agreement as is to the world journal. it was about two or three weeks ago. they approved it. >> he won't sign it. that.nderstand he is saying some of the issues he raised before. we have seen that if he had the objection he would not have sent it in the first place. his seems to have it both ways. we're going to have to work through it and it definitely creates a problem in terms of long-term security of afghanistan. it is a challenge. >> do you think this increases the odds that the obama registration will just pulled the plug and say no troops after 2014? they have talked about that in
the past. do you think they're going to do that? >> no, they are not. the only way that would happen is if afghanistan rejected any agreement and said we're not going to make that decision. not for quite awhile. >> carl levin issued a statement after you came back suggesting that perhaps the president should just ignore karzai at this point and look forward to a new president. what are your thoughts on that? do you think there may be a way around this? >> i think it is prudent to sort of tone it down a little bit. i think carl's opinion is if we go to april with the new president it would work. then you're putting yourself really close to the timeline. i do not think they want to get that close. the sooner we sign this agreement, the sooner there is
evidence of stability in afghanistan. ultimately, we need to continue to try to see if there is some way to get this current administration to sign the agreement while also preparing for the possibility of having to wait for the next one. i think senator levin is right about what the prudent course of action is. i think it would be good if we could give the agreement signed before the next step. >> follow up on that. it opens up a lot of variables with a new election a new president who may or may not want to sign it. they may see that as an opportunity to renegotiate. is that potentially kicking the can down the road? >> you describe it quite well. we need to first and foremost try to get it signed as soon as possible. we have to keep pressing for it. i do not know what the deadline is.
we have to start not just preparations but operationally pulling out. i do not think there is a firm, fixed deadline. we are pushing it. the sooner we get the agreement the better. all the risks are clearly there if we do not. >> the question of sanctions has been pretty high on the list for a lot of republicans and even some democrats considering the defense authorization bill. it does not look like that will get done this year. do you think there will be pressure next year to push for sanctions again in the house? i wanted to get your thoughts on the senator menendez proposal that would delay sanctions for six months. at the end of the agreement, they will see at that point of the sanctions are looming. i want to get your take on that.
deal.r it is a workable >> we already have very robust sanctions on iran. each of the last two years the authorizing act has included very strict sanctions on iran, going after their banking industry. there are incredibly tough sanctions on them. that is why iran was willing to come to the table and have this discussion in the first place. to some degree, this ignores the very effective pressure we already have on them. putting more sanctions on at this point undermines the negotiations and the path toward a possible agreement, no guarantees to be sure, but possible agreement that would give us the confidence that iran would not have a nuclear weapon. that is an incredibly important step i do not think we should jeopardize by pushing more sanctions out there.
we already have a robust set of sanctions that are clearly having their intended effect. we are going to have to see if the short-term deal is that, a short-term deal. will we get a long-term deal that significantly increases our confidence that iran will not develop a nuclear weapon? we will see. i do not think we need more sanctions to enforce that. the ones we have have done it. >> what evidence do you have that the sanctions have been working? the foreign minister has said they had been an utter failure. they started out with hundreds of centrifuges. during the sanctions, they have grown them to 19,000. he said they have failed. >> the evidence i have had is that iran is coming to the table. iran's economy is in shambles.
they were intended to force iran to the negotiating table. so the negotiations could stop progress toward a nuclear weapon. the sanctions were not intended to stop them from being able to accumulate. they were intended to break it back economically and forced into the table. that is the evidence i have. we need them at the table. we need them to agree to a different course of action. this is seeing the growth in centrifuges and pushing them further and further down the line toward developing a nuclear weapon. we need to change that. that is what the negotiations will lead to. >> your thoughts on that? how confident are you that a long-term deal can be reached? everybody says it will be extremely difficult. do you think they will want to
reach one? will it be too tough to pull off? >> i remain skeptical because of all the reasons you stated, the lack of trust between iran and others. i do not trust iran. they have been up to some very bad behavior, supporting terrorist groups, moving toward a nuclear weapon. i am not just going to say i'm confident they will change their mind. if i have any confidence it is because of the economic pressure that exists. people of iran are concerned that their economy is in shambles. that puts pressure on the regime to change their behavior. does it put enough pressure to change it to the degree we need?
that i remain skeptical of. we have to pursue this path. what is the alternative? the sanctions have not stopped them from moving forward with their nuclear program. if we simply say "we are going to continue harsher sanctions," it is not going to change that equation. we hope it changes it under the pressure. you're asking for a prediction. i am going to remain very skeptical until we see some concrete steps by the iranian people. if you told me two months ago that iran would agree to what they agreed to in regard to stopping development, i would have been skeptical of that, too. they did agree to that. we will see what the future holds.
>> does the failure to reach an agreement create war? if in six months we do not reach in agreement on the program, does that set off the fuse toward war? everybody has been beating this drum. president obama threw water on it two years ago. it seems the drumbeats are coming back. what is your opinion on that and whether you think there's a way to avoid war? >> i do not think it necessarily means of that. i do not think you want to take that step just because when things fall apart it would be a devastating impact for the region and for the world. i think you'll have to wait and see how the negotiations play out. i wouldn't dare make a prediction of on something that important. >> you mentioned the shambles so i was reminded of the budget conference and sequester. there is a plan on the table between chairwoman murray and chairman ryan that would look at about a trillion dollar budget. that's a bit over what the
sequester would be. it would give defense a little more money. defense would suffer some sequester. this does not involve new revenue. i am wondering if you and your caucus over there, whether you would be willing to support such a deal for defense even if it did not include revenue or money for extending unemployment insurance? >> first of all, not an insignificant increase because the sequestration is 97 billion. $966 billion. it is not just -- cuts that are coming to all discretionary spending and transportation and housing our ability to get an agreement on that is certainly better than living under a government shutdown. if we could get an actual appropriation number, given where we're at right now, that
is a pretty significant step forward. it would give some predictability to the budget process. we will have to see the details. i would be inclined to support it. i would be reluctant because i would like to see a larger deal and more revenue. that is the nature of compromise in this difficult system. >> how about your colleagues? some are really concerned about the unemployment insurance. that is a big issue for a lot of people. is that where the line is? >> i'm not going to speak for them. i have had extensive conversations. you'd have to ask my colleagues. i am very concerned about the lack of unemployment insurance.
this would put this on the brink of another government shutdown. that puts us in a cr world which is no way you should run the country. >> what is your read on the mood? do you think there is a decent likelihood that a deal would be struck? are we going to go in more of a dire scenario that you painted? >> it is hard to read the mood. there is a growing sense of concern among both republicans and democrats that we cannot get appropriation bills are done. we cannot budget. all these agencies are being from crisis to crisis. is that enough to overcome the basic conflict that have been
that from the 2010 election for work? how do you balance those two? i am not in a position to read the mood of all members of congress to give a conclusion. it sounds like there is some momentum to at least get a small deal. hopefully that will come to pass. >> we spoke a couple of days ago about where we are. authorization. the senate would need to act very quickly. you have expressed some doubts that you could get the bill through the senate and get a conference. you said you're running out of time. how long does the house have to wait before it starts launching its stripped-down defense authorization measure? do you have to begin that very early in this coming week? how long can you actually wait? >> we have been in discussions
with our senate counterparts for quite some time. we do not wait until they are done. this is a leadership call on how long we wait. what we are trying to do is make sure we have a bill ready. we are as close as possible to working out the issues and differences we have so if we have to go into the nonconference mode, simply passing a bill and sending it to the senate, that we are ready to do it. leadership has to decide when it is pulled. >> you have sexual assault issues. you have guantánamo bay. these are very important issues. what issues actually fall out in some of the stripped-down versions of the fed authorization version of the bill? >> it would be hard to say. keep in mind, there are assault
provisions in the house bill. they would definitely be extended. that would not fall out. there would be something. on sexual assault and how the military handled that very difficult issue. as for the rest of it, it depends on negotiations. i cannot get into the specifics of what is in or out. >> if i could turn to asia for a moment. the chinese recently surprised a lot of people around the world by imposing an air identification defense zone. anyone flying over a big stretch of the east china sea has to give them a heads up in advance or they will take unspecified measured responses.
the japanese and south koreans were both upset. joe biden has been in the region. what is your sense of the follow-up in the long-term? did they respond correctly to that? >> i think we need to be calm about this. i thing the conversations with the chinese are helpful. it is not a no-fly zone. let us know. we have zones like that. we have that in the united states as well. everyone wants to know who is coming and going. i do not know if the chinese miscalculated. it has certainly gotten the attention of the rest of the world. the one way they miscalculated definitely strengthens a lot of other countries. they are concerned about china overreaching.
right now i do not think that situation will be more than that. >> do you think this is a harbinger of future conflicts or tensions that may arise over territorial disputes in places that may be most americans are not familiar with but are sensitive issues with other countries in southeast asia? is the u.s. going to get increasingly drawn into these kind of disputes and have to take sides or is this a one-off? >> i do not know about increasingly. i forget how many years ago but a u.s. military plane was forced to the ground in another part of china. it was a much more controversial situation than this. i do not think it necessarily represents a ramping up of it. these issues will continue to be there. i do not know if this significantly upped the ante. what hasecognition of
been there for years. >> the rebalance the president has talked about toward china and the pacific, some argue it has been part of a hollow re-balance. there were actually putting troops in a time where we are downsizing our forces we cannot do a lot. has the china situation made it easier for us to develop some of these relationships and strengthen our allies there? >> yes. the folks around there -- they want to make sure they have friends so they are not completely reliant on china. they change how they do that. so many territorial disputes drive these in the hands of someone you can be a reasonable
alternative. during the typhoon, it was the u.s. that showed up here in if they want to say you are the big regional player, they're not going to respond in an intelligent way. they are not helping the people around them. they are simply trying to force their way on many of these territorial disputes. i think that does help us in terms of being able to build the relationships we want to build. >> we have time for a few more questions. >> there is a concern they have about pay and compensation for the troops. congress has been pretty generous. past 12arly over the years of war. they have been making sure benefits are solid.
the chiefs are saying over the long-term our budget is being cut overall and the troop compensation is eating up a share of the defense budget. they said it is reaching pressing levels. do you see congress being amenable to their concerns? are there ways to at least scale back the growth in the coming years? >> we have a commission that we appointed earlier this year. it addresses exactly these issues. i think they are legitimate. as the force has shrunk, we need to look at ways to make sure we do not have a hollow force. you have all these pay and compensation issues. if you do not have adequate equipment, most people would say make sure i have the training and equipment i had to do the
job you're asking me to do. i think this is a discussion we're going to have to have. the political reality in congress is that it is difficult. when you look at the deficit we have had, when you look at sequestration, it is obvious that we will be building smaller budgets. you do not see that reflected frequently in congress. we are still arguing to make sure we do not cut these things. always a small group when the pentagon says they're trying to decommission it, people say you cannot do that. the battle over the size of the national guard. congress has got to wake up and understand the budgets are getting smaller. that's just the way it is. let's make some intelligent decisions and scissor trying to
defend every little piece of the budget. i think the pentagon tried to take a holistic approach. i hope they start to be more cooperative. ofsonnel costs have to part it. we can make sure that we have the training equipment necessary for the military. >> this budget that will be dropping is probably going to be the first one we have seen that will confirm with the caps we have seen in the budget control act. if adam smith were the secretary of defense, where would the cuts most heavily fall? we were talking about compensation and benefits. that commission wil not report until may or june. this probably will not reform the alteration bills. what would you make of reduction specifically?
>> certainly you have to look at the personnel side. i think there's money to be saved on the nuclear side. we have over 5100 nuclear warheads which more than meets our needs going forward. there are ways to save money. starting into an acquisition reform process. how can we buy more effectively? overhead is a major problem. i was pleased secretary hagel and he said he would make reductions. we have to be smart about how we purchase things. all of those areas will be on the table. i am one of the few members of congress that try to consolidate and save money. in terms of what our costs are.
>> how far do you see the army coming down? how far do you think the marine corps needs to be reduced? oft's where you have most your personnel? >> those are coming down. i'm pretty sure the army is going down to 430,000. this is part of it. there are other costs in terms of compensation and other issues that can be looked at. >> if i could end in on this question. hagel hassess the job done? >> i think he has done a great job. he has been very open and reaching out to congress. he has been a good partner to work with.
he does not know what his budget is from week to week. in light of all of that, i think he is doing a great job. he has certainly been open in communicating that congress cap the relationship and a good place. >> thank you very much for being this week's newsmaker. >> thank you for the chance. >> let me turn to our two reporters. let's begin where we began with the interview. that is afghanistan. what did you hear from him? >> we heard him say we need to ease up a little bit. there is a lot of hard rhetoric coming from both sides in washington and kabul over whether to keep troops there and in what conditions. there was also some talk of a deadline by the year end. the obama administration wanted something signed by the end of the year. now we're hearing let's take our time. maybe we do not need to rush it through after all. that is probably what is going to happen. >> on iran?
>> i think he is doing the same thing. we are talking about delaying actions. the administration has no interest in sanctions. the chatter about it has the iranians. scaring off i think the democrats are discussing it. it will affect the defense authorization debate. if they cannot get a deal on amendment to the senate, and the republicans do not seem amenable, the plan b seems more likely. >> not another round of sections? congress will hold off? republicans will wait? >> republicans will try but they cannot do it without the democratic leadership doing it. that is interesting, too. there are democrats who probably would see stronger sanctions against iran. this falls on harry reid to try
to figure out how to keep this from becoming a debate on the floor. they cannot control it. it could throw a wrench in the works. some democrats may have a deal in the less inclined to push sanctions on iran. another is a deal in place, is a different game. >> preview for us the secretary of state. >> you heard about what frank alluded to. there is an awful lot of rhetoric coming out from people in washington. maybe they do not trust the iranians but they do recognize the importance of the moment and trying to negotiate some sort of diplomatic resolution. you had the president of israel. benjamin netanyahu has been very outspoken against the saudis. conservative elements in iran
have been against it. this is a serious moment that may or may not turn out. both sides are trying to act very upset about the whole thing. i think there's some posturing going on. >> you both asked about the mood in congress. sequestration. >> we do not want to assess the mood. why have you heard? >> you get the sense, you have the feeling there is some slow walking going on. they do not do anything until they absolutely have to. we still have some time for this to play out before they have to reach a deal. there was an artificial deal imposed by the appropriate are saying we needed to get one like now so we have time to do another.
this may be fantasyland right now. >> this friday is the deadline, december 13. we will wait and see. thank you both. i appreciate it. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] world is aline circulatory system of our economy and has been the veins and arteries that connect what is the information economy in the united states. increase atg data 40% per year. formstworks connect all of communication where the that originate in a why your or wireless. is a wireline future. >> the future of communication with walter mccormick.
monday on "the communicators" on c-span. because theyt called it my mental health work the first few meetings i had. they never showed up anymore. woman who was one of the press people. i said, nobody ever comes to my meetings. she said, it is not a sexy issue. we toured the country. and developed legislation. systemthe mental health act of 1980. it passed through congress one .onth before
the incoming president came in. >> first lady rosalynn carter on c-span c-span3. and c-span radio. >> the brookings institution hosted a three-day form focused on middle east challenges stop president obama sitting down with the center's founder for a conversation that is a little less than 50 minutes. >> hello! [applause] >> how are you doing? >> i'm good. hello, everybody. >> one of your staffers said you you are in a great mood this afternoon, so -- >> i am. >> we're doubly blessed here. so that's terrific. i'd like to thank you very much for being here today, mr. president.
the forum, and i personally, are honored to have you join us in this conversation. and i am personally honored that you insisted that i have this conversation with you, even though i never set foot for any conversation for 10 years. so thank you. i'm very honored. shall we start with iran? >> we should. >> okay, good. [laughter] >> mr. president, polls indicate that 77 percent of israelis don't believe this first nuclear deal will preclude iran from having nuclear weapons, and they perceive this fact as an existential matter for them. what can you say to the israeli people to address their concern? >> well, first, before i answer the question, let me say to you, haim, thank you so much for the great work that you've done. i think the saban forum and the saban center has done outstanding work, and it provides us a mechanism where we don't just scratch the surface of these issues. obviously the challenges in the
middle east are enormous, and the work that's being done here is terrific. so i want to also thank strobe for hosting us here today, and all of you who are here, including some outstanding members of the israeli government and some friends that i haven't seen in a while. so thanks for having me. let me start with the basic premise that i've said repeatedly. it is in america's national security interests, not just israel's national interests or the region's national security interests, to prevent iran from getting a nuclear weapon. and let's remember where we were when i first came into office. iran had gone from having less than 200 centrifuges to having thousands of centrifuges, in some cases more advanced centrifuges. there was a program that had advanced to the point where their breakout capacity had
accelerated in ways that we had been concerned about for quite some time and, as a consequence, what i said to my team and what i said to our international partners was that we are going to have to be much more serious about how we change the cost- benefit analysis for iran. we put in place an unprecedented regime of sanctions that has crippled iran's economy, cut their oil revenues by more than half, have put enormous pressure on their currency -- their economy contracted by more than 5 percent last year. it is precisely because of the international sanctions and the coalition we were able to build that the iranian people responded by saying we need a new direction.
and that's what brought president rouhani to power. he was not necessarily the first choice of the hardliners inside of iran. now, that doesn't mean that we should trust him or anybody else inside of iran. this is a regime that came to power swearing opposition to the united states, to israel, and to many of the values that we hold dear. but what i've consistently said is even as i don't take any options off the table, what we do have to test is the possibility that we can resolve this issue diplomatically. and that is the deal that, at the first stages, we have been able to get done in geneva, thanks to some extraordinary work by john kerry and his
counterparts in the p5+1. so let's look at exactly what we've done. for the first time in over a decade, we have halted advances in the iranian nuclear program. we have not only made sure that in fordor and natanz that they have to stop adding additional centrifuges, we've also said that they've got to roll back their 20% advanced enrichment. so we're -- >> to how much? >> down to zero. so you remember when prime minister netanyahu made his presentation before the united nations last year -- >> the cartoon with the red line? >> the picture of a bomb -- he was referring to 20 percent enrichment, which the concern was if you get too much of that, you now have sufficient capacity to go ahead and create a nuclear weapon. we're taking that down to zero. we are stopping the advancement
of the arak facility, which would provide an additional pathway, a plutonium pathway for the development of nuclear weapons. we are going to have daily inspectors in fordor and natanz. we're going to have additional inspections in arak. and as a consequence, during this six-month period, iran cannot and will not advance its program or add additional stockpiles of advanced uranium or enriched uranium. now, what we've done in exchange is kept all these sanctions in place -- the architecture remains with respect to oil, with respect to finance, with respect to banking. what we've done is we've turned the spigot slightly and we've said, here's maximum $7 billion out of the over $100 billion of
revenue of theirs that is frozen as a consequence of our sanctions, to give us the time and the space to test whether they can move in a direction, a comprehensive, permanent agreement that would give us all assurances that they're not producing nuclear weapons. >> i understand. a quick question as it relates to the $7 billion, if i may. >> please. >> how do we prevent those who work with us in geneva, who have already descended on tehran looking for deals, to cause the seven to become 70? because we can control what we do, but what is the extent that we can control the others? >> this is precisely why the timing of this was right. one of the things we were always concerned about was that if we did not show good faith in trying to resolve this issue diplomatically, then the sanctions regime would begin to
fray. keep in mind that this was two years of extraordinary diplomatic work on behalf of our team to actually get the sanctions in place. they're not just the unilateral sanctions that are created by the united states. these are sanctions that are also participated in by russia, by china, and some allies of ours like south korea and japan that find these sanctions very costly. but that's precisely why they've become so effective. and so what we've said is that we do not loosen any of the core sanctions; we provide a small window through which they can access some revenue, but we can control it and it is reversible. and during the course of these six months, if and when iran shows itself not to be abiding by this agreement, not to be negotiating in good faith, we can reverse them and tighten them even further. but here is the bottom line. ultimately, my goal as president
of the united states -- something that i've said publicly and privately and shared everywhere i've gone -- is to prevent iran from getting a nuclear weapon. but what i've also said is the best way for us to prevent iran from getting a nuclear weapons is for a comprehensive, verifiable, diplomatic resolution, without taking any other options off the table if we fail to achieve that. it is important for us to test that proposition during the next six months, understanding that while we're talking, they're not secretly improving their position or changing circumstances on the ground inside of iran. and if at the end of six months it turns out that we can't make a deal, we're no worse off, and in fact we have greater leverage with the international community to continue to apply sanctions and even strengthen them. if, on the other hand, we're able to get this deal done, then
what we can achieve through a diplomatic resolution of this situation is, frankly, greater than what we could achieve with the other options that are available to us. >> let's all hope we get there. >> absolutely. >> you have hosted passover dinners at the white house. >> i have. >> and you know this famous saying, "why is this night different than any other night? in that context, i would like to ask you a question. with the best intentions and all efforts, president reagan vowed that pakistan would not go nuclear. didn't happen. with the best intentions and all efforts, president clinton vowed that north korea won't go nuclear. why is this nuclear deal different than any other nuclear deal? [laughter.] >> well, we don't know yet. no, we don't know yet. i think it's important for everybody to understand this is hard.
because the technology of the nuclear cycle, you can get off the internet -- the knowledge of creating a nuclear weapons is already out there. and iran is a large country and it is a relatively wealthy country, and so we have to take seriously the possibility that they are going to try to get a nuclear weapon. that's what this whole exercise is about. having said that, if you look at the history, by the time we got an agreement with north korea, they essentially already had a nuclear weapon. with respect to pakistan, there was never the kinds of inspection regimes and international sanctions and u.n. resolutions that were in place. we have been able to craft an international effort and verification mechanism around the iran nuclear program that is unprecedented and unique.
that doesn't mean it's easy. and that's why we have to take it seriously. but i think one of the things that i've repeatedly said when people ask, why should we try to negotiate with them, we can't trust them, we're being naïve, what i try to describe to them is not the choice between this deal and the ideal, but the choice between this deal and other alternatives. if i had an option, if we could create an option in which iran eliminated every single nut and bolt of their nuclear program, and foreswore the possibility of ever having a nuclear program, and, for that matter, got rid of all its military capabilities, i would take it. but -- >> next question --
>> but -- sorry, haim, i want to make sure everybody understands it -- that particular option is not available. and so as a consequence, what we have to do is to make a decision as to, given the options available, what is the best way for us to assure that iran does not get a nuclear weapon? and the best way for us to assure it is to test this diplomatic path, understanding that it's not based on trust -- it's based on what we can verify. and it also, by the way, does not negate the fact that iran is engaging in a whole bunch of other behavior in the middle east and around the world that is detrimental to the united states and detrimental to israel. and we will continue to contest their efforts where they're engaging in terrorism, where they're being disruptive to our friends and our allies. we will not abide by any threats to our friends and allies in the region, and we've made that perfectly clear.
and our commitment to israel's security is sacrosanct, and they understand that. they don't have any doubt about that. but if we can negotiate on the nuclear program in the same way that ronald reagan was able to negotiate with the soviet union even as we were still contesting them around the world, that removes one more threat -- and a critical, existential threat -- takes it out of their arsenal. and it allows us then to ultimately i think win them -- defeat some of their agenda throughout the region without worrying that somehow it's going to escalate or trigger a nuclear arms race in the most volatile part of the world. >> unfortunately, you're right -- it would. tom friedman had an interesting perspective in one of his columns.
he said, "never negotiate with iran without some leverage and some crazy on your side. we have to out-crazy the crazies." do you think he has a point? [laughter] >> well, tom is a very smart observer. and i know that my friend, bibi, is going to be speaking later, and if tom wants to characterize bibi the way you just described, that's his -- >> i didn't say that. >> that's his prerogative, that's not my view. [laughter] prime minister netanyahu and i have had constant consultations on these issues throughout the last five years. and something that i think bears repeating -- the united states military cooperation with israel has never been stronger. our intelligence cooperation with israel has never been stronger. our support of israel's security has never been stronger.
whether you're talking about iron dome, whether you're talking about trying to manage the situation in gaza a little over a year ago, across the board, our coordination on the concrete issues facing israel's security has never been stronger. and that's not just my opinion i think that's something that can be verified. there are times where i, as president of the united states, am going to have different tactical perspectives than the prime minister of israel -- and that is understandable, because israel cannot contract out its security. in light of the history that the people of israel understand all too well, they have to make sure that they are making their own assessments about what they need to do to protect themselves. and we respect that. and i have said that consistently to the prime minister. but ultimately, it is my view, from a tactical perspective,
that we have to test out this proposition. it will make us stronger internationally, and it may possibly lead to a deal that we'll have to show to the world, in fact, assures us that iran is not getting a nuclear weapon. it's not as if there's going to be a lot of capacity to hide the ball here. we're going to be able to make an assessment, because this will be subject to the p5+1 and the international community looking at the details of every aspect of a potential final deal, and we're consulting with all our friends, including israel, in terms of what would that end state look like. and if we can't get there, then no deal is better than a bad deal. but presuming that it's going to be a bad deal and, as a consequence, not even trying for
a deal, i think would be a dire mistake. >> well, personally, i find a lot of comfort in the fact that even though the united states and israel may have red lines in different places, we are on the same place as far as the bottom line goes -- >> absolutely. >> and iran will not have nuclear weapons. fair to say? >> absolutely. that is more than fair. >> good. thank you. should we move to these israeli- palestinians -- we should. >> okay. >> [laughter] very obedient president i have here today. [laughter] this is the saban forum, so you're in charge. [laughter] >> i wish. [laughter] or cheryl is in charge. >> you're more on now, mr. president. it is cheryl who is in charge. that's exactly right. >> anyway.
[laughter] first of all, before i ask the first question, i would be remiss if i didn't, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for your continuous effort to achieve peace in the middle east. thank you so very much. [applause] >> i appreciate it. thank you. >> so people talk about an imposed american solution. we've heard these rumors rumbling around for a while. the u.s. has always said it doesn't want to impose. what would you propose? >> well, first of all, this is a challenge that we've been wrestling with for 60 years. and what i've consistently said is that the only way this is going to be resolved is if the people of israel and the palestinian people make a determination that their futures and the futures of their children and grandchildren will be better off with peace than with conflict. the united states can be an effective facilitator of that negotiation and dialogue.
we can help to bridge differences and bridge gaps. but both sides have to want to get there. and i have to commend prime minister netanyahu and president abbas for the courageous efforts that have led to very serious conversations over the last several months. they are not easy. but they come down to what we all know are going to be the core issues. territory, security, refugees, and jerusalem. and there are not a lot of secrets or surprises at this point. we know what the outlines of a potential agreement might look like. and the question then becomes are both sides willing to take the very tough political risks involved if their bottom lines are met? for the palestinians, the bottom line is that they have a state
of their own that is real and meaningful. for the israelis, the bottom line is, to a large extent, is the state of israel as a jewish state secure. and those issues have been spoken about over the last several months in these negotiations in a very serious way. and i know tzipi livni is here and been participating in that, and we're very grateful for her efforts there. and i think it is possible over the next several months to arrive at a framework that does not address every single detail but gets us to a point where everybody recognizes better to move forward than move backwards. sometimes when you're climbing up a mountain, even when it's scary, it's actually easier to go up than it is to go down. and i think that we're now at a place where we can achieve a two-state solution in which
israelis and palestinians are living side-by-side in peace and security. but it's going to require some very tough decisions. one thing i have to say, though, is we have spent a lot of time working with prime minister netanyahu and his entire team to understand from an israeli perspective what is required for the security of israel in such a scenario. and we -- going back to what i said earlier -- we understand that we can't dictate to israel what it needs for its security. but what we have done is to try to understand it and then see through a consultative process, are there ways that, through technology, through additional ideas, we can potentially provide for that. and i assigned one of our top former generals, john allen, who most recently headed up the
entire coalition effort in afghanistan -- he's retired now, but he was willing to take on this mission -- and he's been working to examine the entire set of challenges around security -- >> has he concluded anything? >> well, he's come up to -- he has arrived at the conclusion that it is possible to create a two-state solution that preserves israel's core security needs. now, that's his conclusion, but ultimately he's not the decision-maker here. prime minister netanyahu and the israeli military and intelligence folks have to make that determination. and ultimately, the palestinians have to also recognize that there is going to be a transition period where the israeli people cannot expect a replica of gaza in the west bank.
that is unacceptable. and i think we believe that we can arrive at that point where israel was confident about that, but we're going to have to see whether the israelis agree and whether president abbas, then, is willing to understand that this transition period requires some restraint on the part of the palestinians as well. they don't get everything that they want on day one. and that creates some political problems for president abbas, as well. >> yes. well, i'd say my next question of what was the reaction of the prime minister to general allen for john kerry. >> yes, ask john kerry, or ask the prime minister. >> okay. >> i don't want to speak for him. [laughter] >> they won't tell me, but, okay. [laughter] >> that's probably true.
>> my last question. the palestinians are two people one in the west bank, led by president abbas that is negotiating the deal, and one in gaza, led by hamas that wants to eradicate israel from the face of the earth. president abbas, as far as i know, says he won't make a deal that doesn't include gaza, which he doesn't control. how do we get out from this labyrinth? >> well, i think this is going to have to happen in stages. but here's what i know from my visits to israel, my visits to the west bank. there are people of goodwill on both sides that recognize the status quo is not sustainable over the long term, and as a consequence, it is in the interests of both the israelis and palestinians to resolve this issue. there are young people, teenagers that i met both in israel and in the palestinian territories that want to get out
from under this history and seek a future that is fundamentally different for them. and so if, in fact, we can create a pathway to peace, even if initially it's restricted to the west bank, if there is a model where young palestinians in gaza are looking and seeing that in the west bank palestinians are able to live in dignity, with self- determination, and suddenly their economy is booming and trade is taking place because they have created an environment in which israel is confident about its security and a lot of the old barriers to commerce and educational exchange and all that has begun to break down,
that's something that the young people of gaza are going to want. and the pressure that will be placed for the residents of gaza to experience that same future is something that is going to be i think overwhelmingly appealing. but that is probably going to but that is probably going to take place during the course of some sort of transition period. and the security requirements that israel requires will have to be met. and i think that is able -- that we can accomplish that, but ultimately it's going to be something that requires everybody to stretch out of their comfort zones. and the one thing i will say to the people of israel is that you can be assured whoever is in the office i currently occupy,