11 February 2008
19:30 ? 21:30
Dr. Saeb Erekat
Colonel Hazem Atallah
Livni: After I?ve read in Israeli papers that you?re tired of my talk, I brought Amos Gilead to talk. Let?s be flexible regarding borders, and it depends on what borders we?ve on the other side. We don?t wish to put obstacles before the negotiations, but let?s see what we?ve in common in your and our vision.
Abu Ala?: When we talk about security we talk about our and your security needs and not at the expense of borders or Jerusalem or other. We refuse to bargain on issues. What?s necessary for security has to be dealt with in the sphere of security until we reach an agreement, and the same goes for borders and Jerusalem and other issues. In the end we want to reach an agreement regarding all issues; we don?t want simply to bargain.
Livni: Thus I see that talk about security needs depends on what happens on the other side of the borders. If there?s a response regarding our security needs then I can be flexible regarding borders.
Abu Ala?: Every nation in the world wants to live in security and peace and cooperate with other nations. We?ll discuss the need for security and stability.
Livni: We?re in the hands of generals so let?s listen to them (in reference to General Gilead as well as US Generals Dayton-Frazier and Jones).
Gilead: I want to refer to our fears in a clear and plain manner. We haven?t discussed this matter since 2000. We?re now discussing the borders with Salam Fayyad and we don?t talk about it as a strategic matter.
Livni: We want to talk about the future and not the current situation on the ground.
Gilead: We believe in the two-state solution but security is a precondition to that. I want to learn from the lessons of the past. If we look at Jordan we see that it?s one united solid kingdom with one police and one army. When we go into Jordan we find that everything is stable and quiet. I mention Jordan because it?s the best model and is better than any other place in the Middle East. What we want is reliable armed forces that keep security and impose law and order. We can?t accept a compromise solution due to the proximity of the distance.
What happened in Gaza is a strategic case, since a force that is against peace has defied the security apparatuses, which weren?t organized and which we?ve warned against. In a couple of hours that force managed to have full control over the whole area.
You must have the capacity to prove your competence in organizing the security and intelligence apparatuses in order to be able to impose security and law, and fight against terrorism because anarchy leads to terrorism.
If we analyze what had taken place in Gaza we can easily say that there were no responsible security apparatuses. There should be no more than one or two security apparatuses. The infrastructure is the medicine that feeds terrorism and fighting terrorism doesn?t take place by merely fighting against terrorist groups but by putting an end to the manufacturing of explosives and incitement which is like fuel to terrorism.
We want to have close cooperation with a responsible security apparatus; either you put an end to terrorism or we?ve to do it ourselves. (This was Sharon?s position).
There?s another dimension with regard to the West Bank. When the West Bank is weak, Iran will make efforts to weaken Jordan. The West Bank is important and can cause more danger because it?s closer to Israel.
There?s stability on the borders because of Jordanian security efforts. Jordan has reliable security apparatuses, but in the west Bank we?re very far from being like Jordan. If in two weeks we let the West Bank become Hamastan or Anarchistan this will affect Jordan and will open the doors for Iran.
Jordan has good capacities and therefore it?s the strategic depth between Jordan and Iraq. Iraq will be divided into two regions, one for the Kurds in the north and which will have more stability than other regions, and another for the Sunnis which will be a base for al-Qaeda Organization.
We?re talking about a state and the Gaza Strip is part of it. There?s not doubt about this. Besides, you?ll not agree to any apolitical solution without the Strip. But there?s an entity called Hamstan and it?s strong and organized and controls the region. It is an extremist entity that doesn?t look for peace, but it?s goal is to control the West Bank and destroy Israel. This is the declared goal of Hamas and they make no secret of it. It?s a strategic goal which they hope to achieve by joining a united national government and have full control over the West Bank.
What happened in Gaza shouldn?t happen in the West Bank. You had money, arms, and police officers, and there was a group that was getting support from Iran and in 5 hours you lost all of the Gaza Strip. They were corrupt officers most of whom were residing in Cairo, and I warned them that this might happen.
Abu Ala?: Was this your analysis or did you have information or perhaps indirect coordination with what they were planning to do?
Gilead: This was our analysis, and I was in a security meeting with Egyptian security officers in Cairo and I told them that. I told them that Hamas was building the executive force as a military force against the Authority. Hamas managed to defeat thousands of the security authority individuals.
Hazem: These thousands weren?t paid for 15 months.
Gilead: I?m speaking frankly because peace is the only strategic option but without security we?ll have nothing.
I talked with President Abu Mazen in 2000, and I told him that he?d be the president after Arafat and that he must act against Hamas.
They built the executive force and terrorist capacities but they failed to translate them against us because of the barrier around the Gaza Strip. So they manufactured rockets that have become now the biggest problem for us because we haven?t yet found the means to stop them.
In brief, as a result of the infrastructure that Hamas set up in the Gaza Strip you?ll not be able to regain control ove the strip again. I don?t think you prefer us to do that and then you follow us to hand it over to you.
Livni: Can I put this as a question?
Gilead: Everything is a question.
Livni: We want to reinforce the state but we can?t accept a terrorist, extremist and incapacitated state. In order to have a powerful state there are prerequisites that Gilead referred to. He referred to capacity and I can?t accept to have this capacity targeted against Israel. As long as you won?t threaten Israel, we don?t mind you having capacities.
Abu Ala?: We?re looking forward to having strategic security for peace and not to having dictates in the name of security. I don?t want to avoid talking about the situation today, and there?s a follow-up committee headed by the Americans to implement the first article in the Road Map. Thus our task is here and what I want is an agreement on the nature of the state so that we can have peace of mind. We want a state that?s able to protect its land, civilians and neighbors. How do you want the state to fight against terrorism and cooperate together so that we both have security?
If you ask me about my priorities today I say they?re ending the occupation. My future priorities are to achieve security, stability and growth. The priority now isn?t the same as the priority in the future.
Livni: There are elements that must be put down to the table in order for the state to be established. These elements must also be discussed for the post-state stage.
Saeb: Amos and I?ve been together for several years. We used to sit together with other Israeli security officials. I insisted that they shouldn?t invest in creating strong men and then corrupt them and turn them into merchants working at the crossings. I?ve documents that indict many of your generals who participated in this. And if you look into Hamas? behavior, you?ll find out that Hamas used to send a suicide bomber and that you responded by destroying our security capacities.
I won?t allow you to dictate to me what I?ve to do because one of our officials wants to get corrupt, and I won?t declare who has corrupted our officials.
We?ve a new generation of security individuals who are ready for work.
Hazem: We want to learn lessons from what had happened in Gaza and we?ve formed a committee for this purpose. The committee put its recommendations and about 57% of the recommendations were implemented.
The situation on the ground in the West Bank is much better that it was before. I mentioned that our security individuals haven?t received salaries for 25 months and I asked General Dayton what he expected them to do. I asked him what would happen if his men didn?t receive salaries for 15 months and he answered that he?d lose his army.
You can?t compare the quantity and quality of the arms that Hamas has in the Gaza Strip with those of the Aurhority.
We?ve to learn from the experiences of the years 1996 ? 2000 that were great years in order to be able to talk about the future. We?re doing well in the West Bank today but you don?t appreciate what we?re doing. We made arrests, confiscated arms, and sacked security individuals affiliated with Hamas, but you keep on deterring our efforts, and this is what?s happening in Nablus.
Livni: D?you see any possibility of changing the situation in Gaza without the interference of Israel?
Hazem: With military power you can achieve nothing.
Abu Ala?: If you give us a safe passage we can.
Livni: You?re a good negotiator.
Gilead: The years that you?re talking about 1996 ? 2000 weren?t like what you?ve said. In 1998 we caught a terrorist cell and its archive. In addition, a number of suicide attacks took place. Therefore, every lesson we learn is related to the future.
Saeb: D?you deny the training and rehabilitation that we conduct for our security individuals?
Gilead: What training are you talking about? You trained 300 instead of 500 individuals as it had been decided in Jordan. In Egypt you trained 500 individuals.
Gilead: Then you told them to sit at home.
You?re not fighting against terrorism in the West Bank I?m talking about facts. You were angry when we went into Nablus. You complained to Rice, Livni and Barak, and I appreciate you ability to protest and shout, but we?ve found a number of laboratories for manufacturing weapons.
Abu Ala?: What laboratories are you talking about? You always exaggerate. You spoke about catching a truck loaded with arms at Huwara, and it was found that everything wasn?t true.
Gilead: I?ve reports that prove this, and you?ve to admit some facts. You?re also following the turnstile policy in your arrests. We must show our protest against everything.
Hazem: Why don?t you give us advice?
Gilead: I?m not here to make you angry. We want to speak frankly.
Abu Ala?: I believe that the precondition to security is peace and not vice versa. Reaching an agreement will be the most important element and weapon in our hands to impose security. Thus I want to know what the prerequisites will be when we?ve a state. What d?you want from the state? This is what we want to discuss. At any rate, Livni insisted during preparations for Annapolis Conference on adding the statement ?the implementation of any future agreement is preconditioned by the implementation of our obligations stated in the first phase of Road Map?. I opposed this strongly.
I know that Israel wants security and it?s a major concern for her. But sometimes I feel that you exaggerate the whole matter and at other times that it?s part of a policy of conspiracy and the imposition of new realities on the ground or for the purpose of confiscating more land or dictating new conditions. Recently, Dimonah operation took place and you knew who carried it out and those who were responsible for it, and you did nothing except assassinating one of the most important Fateh Khalil al-Wazeer (Abu Jihad) leaders because one of his followers crossed the main road in front of Dimonah nuclear plant and you considered that such an act t a threat to the plant. Perhaps you feel now incompetent as a result of your practices and due to the occupation and its policies. Let?s talk about security in light of a Palestinian independent state that has full sovereignty side by side with Israel and leave the problems of today to Salam Fayyad and Barak.
We want to talk about the future; what should we do?
Gilead: There are 3 US generals working on the issue of security. If you ask Rice, she?ll be ready to send more. But this isn?t what we want. What we want is only general broad ideas: reliable intelligence and security apparatuses--their number is not what matters but their efficiency, and an efficient police force not only for the imposition of security and law.
Livni: I won?t propose the list of demands now, but what I?m saying is that there are demands that must be fulfilled before the establishment of the state. I don?t want to put obstacles before the negotiations but the demands serve a common interest for the imposition of security and law.
We need to have a demilitarized state, and I won?t talk in more detail about this.
Gilead: Building 2 or 3 security institutions. Performance is what matter not number.
A demilitarized or not demilitarized state.
Saeb: We can say proper armed security that has the capacity to perform duties.
Livni: Is there a difference?
Abu Ala?: Let?s say with limited militarization and not demilitarized.
Saeb: What?s been agreed upon is to have a properly militarized state with common agreement.
Abu Ala?: This won?t be a problem in our negotiations. We?ll see what fits you and us.
Gilead: The IDF is the only army.
Livni: Inside the state of Israel. What?s the idea of international forces?
Abu Ala?: In order to give you peace of mind until we build our own security capacities.
Saeb: So that we won?t be under your mercy and in order to guarantee that no one will mess up our own security. The international forces will also monitor the implementation of our obligations.
Livni: We?ve no position yet regarding the international forces because we haven?t discussed the matter over.
Saeb: President Abu Mazen and Prime Minister Olmert have discussed the matter and we?ve put 3 elements for security. We want international forces because we don?t want to see Israel reoccupy us. We want to guarantee that our apparatuses will be able to receive proper arms to be able to perform their tasks. The UN will authorize the international forces whose tasks will be to prevent Israeli from messing up our territories, to defend us against any attack or threat, and to monitor the implementation of our obligations.
Abu Ala?: We?re talking about having international forces when we?ve peace so that they?ll monitor the borders and defend them and help us build our security capabilities. The tasks of the forces will be determined by you, us and them as well.
Livni: You?re talking about defending Palestine against any threat from the east. Are we a threat to you from the west? We don?t want the state of Palestine to threaten the state of Israel. I pushed towards the deployment of international forces in southern Lebanon and you know our problems with these forces.
Abu Ala?: I?m talking about international forces such as the ones that exist on the Golan Heights. The international forces will give you peace of mind that there?s security in our territories. The tasks of the international forces are an issue that we?ve to discuss and agree on. We need to discuss the tasks as well with the international party that will be in charge of the international forces.
Saeb: We don?t want to lose the West Bank and we want you to help us build our security capacities without corruption.
Livni: When I meet with international delegations, they ask me about my position regarding the presence of international forces in the Palestinian territories. My answer to them is that our position with regard to international forces depends on the role these forces are going to have and whether they?ll put an end to terrorism otherwise they?ll just be like the UNIFIL forces in southern Lebanon.
Abu Ala?: And it?ll put an end to settlement activities as well.
Livni: I?ve no guarantees that after signing an agreement and celebrating it the White House and returning home that we?ll see the desired peace. If the international forces reduce our capacity to respond then we?ll have a problem. We?ll authorize no party to defend us.
Abu Ala?: We?re in a stage of discovery of all issues. D?you accept the principle?
Livni: I don?t know. I want to know more about this subject.
Abu Ala?: The purpose of the forces is to give you more satisfaction from a third party that we agree on and whom you trust. The international forces will remain for a certain period of time until we build our own capacities and enhance trust between us.
Livni: The details affect the position.
Abu Ala?: If you refuse state-to-state dealing on equal terms, then we can either have an independent state with full sovereignty whose borders, security and crossings we manage, or a third party we agree on can do that.
Gilead: All international forces have failed except in the Golan Heights because we?ve a common interest.
Livni: Why d?you want international forces?
Saeb: Because I don?t want Israel to send its forces into our territories. You don?t send your forces to Jordan or Egypt and you don?s ask for that, and thus what must I do to stop you from sending your military forces into our territories?
I want international forces so that you won?t ask to set up early alert stations and emergency deployment locations, unlike what?s happening now when you go into Palestinian cities any time you want.
All the arms available in the West Bank come from Israel.
Abu Ala?: What we want after the establishment of a Palestinian state is to coordinate with you in the security sphere. We want police and security forces that can impose law and order and fight against terrorism; forces that can defend our independence and protect us and our borders from extremists. Otherwise we accept to have a third party we agree upon so that we can guarantee security. We?ve no conditions about the number of the forces or its goals. We sit together and discus the matter.
Livni: Early alert stations won?t affect your sovereignty.
Abu Ala?: They can?t be an alternative to international forces especially after war strategies have changed and Iran started to threaten you with rockets.
Saeb: What d?you think about the role of Jordan?
Gilead: We trust them without borders.
Abu Ala?: What d?you want from Jordan?
Livni: A Palestinian state. This is a joke. I didn?t mean that.
Gilead: Jordan?s the strategic place that?s most stable.
Abu Ala?: Without our stability your stability is threatened. We?re proud of our relations with Jordan; it?s a relation based on trust and full coordination, and we respect their organization and capacity. We?re happy that you also appreciate their capacities and consider it the most stable place.