By Julie Stahl, January 25, 2007.
The Israeli-Palestinian peace process was a “scam” during the 1990s and
because of that Washington should not be pushing Israel to make a “land for
peace deal” now, a former head of the CIA said here.
In his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening, President Bush referred
only briefly to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, saying the U.S. and its partners in
the “Quartet” – the United Nations, European Union and Russia – were “pursuing
the establishment of a democratic Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel
in peace and security.”
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who visited here two weeks ago, offered
to host a three-way summit with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in a bid to discuss ways of
moving toward a Palestinian state.
Bush is the first U.S. leader to publicly back the idea of a “two-state
solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
But former CIA director James Woolsey said this week the U.S. should learn
from past experience. Until something changes in the P.A. there would not be
an Israeli-Palestinian deal, he said.
Woolsey told Cybercast News Service the U.S. had “pushed fairly hard” during
the 1990s and especially in the final stages of the Clinton administration,
exerting “a great deal of effort to produce an Israeli-Palestinian deal.”
In 1993, President Clinton presided over a White House signing of an
agreement between the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the late
Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat.
The pact, which became known as the Oslo Accords, required Israel, in
exchange for Palestinian recognition and peace, to surrender land, which would
become an independent Palestinian entity.
During the next few years, Israel turned over large tracts of land – including
areas many Israelis regard as a biblical inheritance – to the self-rule P.A. The
land relinquished included areas inhabited by 90 percent of the Palestinians
living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
But despite Arafat’s pledge to abandon terrorism, terrorism against Israelis
continued, and in September 2000, a violent Palestinian uprising erupted.
The following January, then Prime Minister Ehud Barak made what Woolsey
called an “extremely generous offer” to Arafat, who refused it.
“Arafat effectively walked away and picked up the pace of murdering
Israeli women and kids in pizza parlors,” said Woolsey, who is currently vice
president at Booz, Allen, Hamilton.
“I think that we should learn from the fact that the 90s were a scam, that the
Palestinian Authority under Arafat, I think, demonstrably never had the remotest
interest or will to cut a land-for-peace deal with Israel,” he said.
“It never effectively changed its charter,” Woolsey said of the PLO. “It is still
committed to the destruction of Israel.”
“I don’t know how you realistically expect a friend and ally to negotiate
a land-for-peace deal with an entity that in effect still wants to destroy it,” he
Woolsey did not rule out an eventual Israeli-Palestinian deal some years down
the road but said this would not happen as long as Hamas is involved in the
government and while the P.A. educational system was heavily influenced by