Amb. Dore Gold at Council on Foreign Relations – Virtual Meeting on Middle East Peace, July 20, 2020 – debating U.S. Amb. Martin Indyk, Palestinian negotiator Hanan Ashrawi, and moderator Farah Stockman of the New York Times (Part 2)
Dore Gold: I think you have to respect the national aspirations of both people. That means the people of Israel and the Arab people in what they call Palestine and what will eventually become some kind of Palestinian state. The old peace process always conceived of Israel pulling out its settlers like it did in the Gaza Strip. There were eight or nine thousand settlers then in Gaza and we pulled them out by force. This was a national tragedy for Israel. But if you can come up with land swaps and other ways of avoiding pulling out the settlers, you make the implementation of the solution much more conceivable for Israel.
The second point is that again – I made this reference earlier – everyone on the Israeli security side refers to the Jordan Valley as the front line of Israel’s defense. Yet the peace process planners have in the last few decades said the IDF has to get out of the Jordan Valley. So you have a huge contradiction between our fundamental security needs that were supported by [Yigal] Allon, [Yitzhak] Rabin, [Ariel] Sharon and others and the needs for making a peace process work.
I’m hoping that by going back to some of the ideas that were raised in the [U.S.] plan, we can possibly move in new directions. If you can construct a new set of relations between Israel and Palestinians that does address basic needs, I think we’ve got a shot. That’s what good negotiators are for.
I’m fully aware that the Trump administration has consulted with Palestinians who speak to Mahmoud Abbas. They’ve tried to make this work. But guess what? Every administration recently has tried to make it work. You had Clinton’s brave efforts with Camp David. We had the Bush administration coming forward with new ideas, and of course the Obama administration taking it right up to 2014. And none of them got close to delivering a deal. So it’s maybe politically popular, and i don’t want to get into Democrats versus Republicans – it’s none of our business – but it may be politically popular to trash the Trump administration for its diplomacy, but nobody else has anything to show either.
I think that if this initiative that was put forward by the Trump team was given a chance by the Palestinians, it would really move forward. It would really change the climate, change the situation in the Middle East.
Amb. Martin Indyk: First of all, Dore is right that Palestinians did not respond in particular to the Obama ideas that were put on the table in 2014 because I was involved in that effort and we still haven’t had a response from Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas). There is a fundamental problem on the Palestinian side in terms of the way in which they are not willing to engage on ideas which I think were fair and balanced at the time.