SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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[H.A.S.C. No. 10727]
ARE YASSER ARAFAT AND THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY CREDIBLE PARTNERS FOR PEACE?
SPECIAL OVERSIGHT PANEL ON TERRORISM
COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SEVENTH CONGRESS
JUNE 6, 2002
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SPECIAL OVERSIGHT PANEL ON TERRORISM
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey, Chairman
DUNCAN HUNTER, California
JAMES V. HANSEN, Utah
CURT WELDON, Pennsylvania
TERRY EVERETT, Alabama
ROSCOE G. BARTLETT, Maryland
J.C. WATTS, Jr., Oklahoma
JOHN N. HOSTETTLER, Indiana
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina
KEN CALVERT, California
ROB SIMMONS, Connecticut
JIM TURNER, Texas
SILVESTRE REYES, Texas
VIC SNYDER, Arkansas
LORETTA SANCHEZ, California
JAMES H. MALONEY, Connecticut
MIKE McINTYRE, North Carolina
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCCIRO D. RODRIGUEZ, Texas
CYNTHIA A. McKINNEY, Georgia
BARON P. HILL, Indiana
JAMES R. LANGEVIN, Rhode Island
Mark Esper, Professional Staff Member
Alexis Lasselle, Staff Assistant
C O N T E N T S
CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF HEARINGS
Thursday, June 6, 2002, Are Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority Credible Partners for Peace?
Thursday, June 6, 2002
THURSDAY, JUNE 6, 2002
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STATEMENTS PRESENTED BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Saxton, Hon. Jim, a Representative from New Jersey, Chairman, Special Oversight Panel on Terrorism
Turner, Hon. Jim, a Representative from Texas, Ranking Member, Special Oversight Panel on Terrorism
Ehrenfeld, Dr. Rachel, Director, The Center for the Study of Corruption & the Rule of Law
Indyk, Ambassador Martin S., Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies, Director, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, The Brookings Institution
Phillips, James, Research Fellow for Middle East Affairs, The Heritage Foundation
Ehrenfeld, Dr. Rachel
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCIndyk, Ambassador Martin
Saxton, Hon. Jim
Turner, Hon. Jim
DOCUMENTS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
[There were no Documents submitted for the Record.]
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
[There were no Questions Submitted for the Record.]
ARE YASSER ARAFAT AND THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY CREDIBLE PARTNERS FOR PEACE?
House of Representatives,
Committee on Armed Services,
Oversight Panel on Terrorism,
Washington, DC, Thursday, June 6, 2002.
The panel met, pursuant to notice, at 8:30 a.m. In room 2212, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Jim Saxton [chairman of the panel] presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. JIM SAXTON, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM NEW JERSEY, CHAIMAN, SPECIAL OVERSIGHT PANEL OF TERR0RISM
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SAXTON. Good morning. The Special Oversight Panel on Terrorism convenes for a public hearing on the question, are Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority (PA) credible partners for peace?
The witnesses for today's hearing arefirst, we will hear from my friend Peter Deutsch, who has a long-standing interest in this subject.
Then, following Congressman Deutsch, we will hear from Ambassador Martin Indyk, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, who I had the pleasure of sitting next to when Prime Minister Netanyahu reorganized the Kinesset on one fateful day. Ambassador Indyk is currently a Senior Fellow and Director of the Saban Center on Military and Middle East policy at the Brookings Institution.
Second, Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, Director of the Center for the Study of Corruption and the Rule of Law in New York; and, finally, Mr. Jim Phillips, Research Fellow for Middle East Affairs at The Heritage Foundation.
Thank you all for agreeing to appear before the panel this morning. We look forward to hearing your testimony, and I am sure each of you will be able to provide meaningful analysis of this important issue.
The Palestinian Intifada started after the July, 2000, peace talks at Camp David failed to bring about an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. The Intifada continues to this day, as we all know. As late as yesterday, there were continuing problems of great significance in the Middle East, particularly in Israel.
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Some Middle East experts have speculated that Yasser Arafat was both unwilling to strike a final deal for peace and unable to sign the agreement that was proposed at Camp David. Many of these experts contend that Arafat cannot enter into such an agreement because he lacks credibility with the Arab world, has little standing with the Islamists, and has no legitimacy with the Palestinian people.
Both Palestinians and Israelis have expressed dissatisfaction with Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority, an institution created in 1996 that lacks transparency and accountability and is considered by some to be both ineffective and corrupt.
In this morning's Washington Post, there is a quote which comes from the administration here, which I will just read for the record: Yasser Arafat has never played a role of someone who could be trusted or who is effective. Asked at his official midday appearancethis is the President, of courseat his official midday appearance before television cameras whether BushI am sorry, it is not the President, someone speaking from the administration, Ari Fleischerwhether Bush had given up on Arafathowever, Fleischer said no.
I don't think the President would say that. The President would say that Yasser Arafat has yet to earn the President's trust.
This morning I hope that our witnesses will speak directly to these issues and offer some insight as to how the United States should deal with Chairman Arafat and the Palestinian Authority. So we will begin our morning with my friend Peter Deutsch.
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Incidentally, you all would be interested to know that Congressman Deutsch and I and several other Members of Congress recently went to Israel to deliver the House-passed resolution on solidarity with Israel. On the way back, after having seen some things that we will share here this morning, Congressman Deutsch and I wrote a letter to the President suggesting that it was time to reorganize, quote, unquote, the Palestinian Authority; and we are very pleased that, several days later, the President held a press conference announcing his desire to do that very thing. So Congressman Deutsch
I am sorry, Mr. Turner, you have some comments at this time?
[The prepared statement of Mr. Saxton can be viewed in the hard copy.]
STATEMENT OF HON. JIM TURNER, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM TEXAS, RANKING MEMBER, SPECIAL OVERSIGHT PANEL ON TERRORISM
Mr. TURNER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I appreciate your convening this hearing on what I think is a very critical issue for the United States and that is the question of whether or not Yasser Arafat can be a credible partner for peace. I do appreciate the chairman inviting Mr. Deutsch, who has a great deal of experience and background in the issue of the Israeli Palestinian conflict and has been a committed leader on that issue for many years in the Congress. I think we all understand that the relationship between the Israelis and the Palestinians not only affect those two people but affect the stability of the entire Middle Eastern region and perhaps the world.
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Our relationship with Israel as well as certain of the Arab neighbors of Israel have allowed us to play a constructive role in trying to bring the parties to the table and to seek a just and equitable solution to that long-standing struggle. I am confident that our Nation can continue to play that role. But it is, of course, a legitimate issue to raise as to whether or not Yasser Arafat retains the ability to lead the diverse elements of the Palestinian people on the path toward peace. The events of the last 2 days highlight the difficulty we have in answering that question.
On Tuesday, we know Chairman Arafat took a step toward a long-promised reform of the Palestinian Authority by announcing reorganization of many of the security forces so as to prevent violence and encourage an end to Israeli incursions into the West Bank and Gaza Strip; and next morning we had a car bombing that claimed the lives of 17 people, once again casting continuing doubt on the ability of Chairman Arafat to guarantee security and to move toward peace. So the purpose of this hearing today is indeed a very important one and that is to examine Chairman Arafat's role and to make a determination as to whether or not he can provide the leadership necessary to lead us down the path toward peace.
So, Mr. Chairman, I thank you for holding this hearing today; and I look forward to hearing our distinguished witnesses.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Turner can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you very much, Mr. Turner.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SAXTON. Mr. Deutsch, the floor is yours.
STATEMENT OF THE HON. PETER DEUTSCH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF FLORIDA
Mr. DEUTSCH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Again, I appreciate your leadership in this area; and I appreciate really you leading the mission that you had mentioned, which is the first congressional trip post the bombings of Passover which relate to the Israeli incursions.
I want to really focus on the topic of this hearing and focus that as it relates to the information that weor some of the information we received during our trip.
The first thing specifically about the incursion, one of the things that has been afforded some sense in the press, but I don't think the press has really given any scope of it, and maybe this hearing is one way of highlighting it, is literally just the amount of weapons that were seized during these incursions. It is a thing that is three dimensional, not two dimensional, but Congressmen Saxton and Kingston and Hoeffel were on this trip and they can all just reiterate what I am saying.
But if this room was the area that we saw fromthe Israeli defense forces put together for us what they said was about one-tenth of the weapons they seized during the incursions; and if this room was filled with those weapons from floor to ceiling, it would be about what we saw. I mean literally, and that was about one-tenth. And the weapons included, as you see, Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs), but mortars, sniper rifles, machine guns, 90 percent of these weapons outside of the Oslo agreements.
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One of the things we also saw and we actuallythey sent it to us for the hearing, suicide vests. This particular vest was seized in that incursion by the Israeli defense forces outside of Nabulus. It is a very eerie thing, and I brought it so the members can actually view it. It is, effectively, professionally made. We actually saw a number of suicide vests. Again, kind of eerie. They have winter versions, summer versions and spring versions. Clearly, this is a winter version, that you could not see what it was, inside with the Polly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) piping, the professionally layered cloth to hold it.
What we also saw was that they had become very sophisticatedC4 as an explosive, ball bearings as an explosive. You know, that was one thing that we witnessed.
Even before that, even before the Israeli incursion was the issue of the Karin A, the ship that the Israeli commandos seized. What has been reported in the public domain at this point in time is effectively, you know, Arafat's direct involvement in that operation. His only plausible deniability about the Karin A is that he was not on the ship.
Again, within the public domain, there have been extensive, you know, review of what has occurred. That ship, againthere has been press reports, but I can speak directly because we also had the opportunitythis is a totally separate issue, but it is tied into itwe had an opportunity to view some of the weapons. There is about $20 million directly from Iran, effectively right off the shelf, very sophisticated weapons, not just mortars but literally rockets, armored rockets, the equivalent of American TOW missiles, antitank weapons made of plastic so they are not detectable.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The weapons also were, again, very sophisticated, inside watertight containers. Some of them were modified to fit within these containers. And then actually an apparatus on the watertight containers, again a sophisticated type apparatus, that would keep the containers at a certain depth in the Mediterranean so it could be taken up by fishing vessels.
It was a very sophisticated operation which, if the Israelis had not seized it, I mean, literally rockets would have changed the dynamic of that incursion specifically.
In some ways, though, more directly related to this hearing is as manyI am sure all of you are aware not only were weapons seized but documents. And in fact, you know, we met with Israeli defense officials and some of this has been in the public domain. You know, some of it was provided directly to American intelligence services.
This particular document, which was found in the Ramallah compound of Chairman Arafat, has his signature on it. Originally, he denied or the Palestinian Authority denied the authenticity of the document. They no longer deny that.
In fact, one of the eerie things, part of the visit was actually meeting with victims and victims' families. We actually met with the actual parents of the soldier that actually downloaded the hard drive. He was subsequently killed in a different operation. But between the operation at Ramallah where he was killed, he called his parents and told them what he had found.
At this point the Palestinian Authorityand I have talked to reporters who reviewed Palestinian authorities about these documents. They no longer deny their authenticity. These specific documents are literally requests for payments to people who are known terrorists. The request is for $2,500. Arafat's signatureagain which has not been denied at this pointspecifically says, the equivalent of $600 each. There is another document along the same lines.
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You know, there are minutes that were seized, again, of meetings. One of the meetings occurred during one of General Zinni's visits. The minutes of the Palestinian Authority meeting effectivelyArafat is quoted in the minutes as saying, well, a suicide bombing occurredmaybe more than onebut in this particular visit by General Zinni, a suicide bombing occurred inside the green line. Arafat is quoted in the meeting as saying, why did they bomb inside the green line? They were supposed to bomb outside the green line. You know, just in terms of direct comments by him in the minutes.
Requestssome of the other documents are specific requests directly through the PA for funding. A list of the items for the funding including charges for suicide belts.
At this point in time, I think the evidence is just so overwhelming directly tying Yasser Arafat with directlynot theoretically, directlywith terrorist activity.
I would like to maybe close just with the charts and then be happy to be responsive to any questions.
Two other things. Why don't you do the New York Times article? I mean, it is almost limitless at this point. You would really have to be sticking your head pretty far in the sand not to look at this objectively.
This is a New York Times story which interviewed a printer in the West Bank who has a contract with the Palestinian Authorityongoing contractthat as soon as the suicide bomber is killed and, you know, it is reported and you can read the article, with the Palestinian Authoritynot with Hamas but with the PA directlythat, as soon as the suicide bomber is killed, this printer is supposed to print up a thousand posters and get them out immediately, whatever the number is. Like $400 is the equivalent of that. But immediately, an ongoing contract.
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For the bombing that just occurred yesterday, the posters are probably up and printed, probably bythe same poster paid for by the Palestinian Authority.
The last poster that I will mention is a quote directly from Chairman Arafat. I think this is something significant as well that, unfortunately, you know, people who don't see the reality won't see the reality.
When Chairman Arafat utters these statements and he continues to use these words, he uses the word ''Jihad.'' Jihad, if you ask any Palestinian what does that word mean, it means suicide bomber. It doesn't mean martyr. It is not a theoretical thing. It is translated usually in English to mean the word martyr. If you ask any Palestinian what the word Jihad means, it means suicide bomber. That is the word. It is just factually the word. Again, it is translated in English usually as martyr.
But, his own quotes, where he says: To Jerusalem we march, suicide bombers by the millions. To Jerusalem we march, suicide bombers by the millions. Not martyrs but suicide bombers is whatthe word that he uses.
So, Mr. Chairman, you know, you and I have both said there cannot be a Yasser Arafat exemption to the war on terrorism. He not only was a terrorist ten years ago, five years ago, one year ago. I think the overwhelming evidence is he is literally a terrorist today, and the United States Government needs to act accordingly.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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Mr. SAXTON. Thank you very much, Mr. Deutsch.
Mr. SAXTON. Mr. Turner, do you have questions for our colleague?
Mr. TURNER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Deutsch, there is no doubt that, you know, Yasser Arafat has been duplicitous with regard to his dealings in not only with any negotiations but with regard to his pledges and intentions. It seems to me that the greater question that we have to try to understand here is, what are the alternatives?
Obviously, the Palestinian people hold him in high regard. He certainly conducts himself in such a way as to maintain that status among the Palestinian people, and I am sure that part of his method is designed to ensure that he maintains that leadership role. Yet when I visited Israel and had a chance to visit with other Palestinians, in particular Saeb Erakat, I found a more moderate view. At least, that was the impression that I was left with. So the mystery that I struggle with is, if there are more moderate leaders among the Palestinians, what is it going to take to get that element of the Palestinian group in a position where they are able to lead rather than Chairman Arafat?
Mr. DEUTSCH. Let me be very responsive. As horrific as Chairman Arafat has been to Israelis, I think the facts are that he has been actually worse to the Palestinians. I mean, it is nothing that has been reported extensively in the American press. But in terms of killingindiscriminately killing of Palestinians, basically setting up and destroying the economy, incidents in terms of, you know, abuses, human rights abuses that are really at the extreme of any place on the planet Earth today, and that is what the Palestinian Authority is.
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I would also tell you that there is a real question internally about his support. One of the mistakes that I think some in the Administration has said is that he is the chosen leader of the Palestinians. Yes, he was chosen in an election in 1996, but there was supposed to be a reelection in the year 2000 which he canceled.
Some of us, as Members, have served as election observers around the world. I happened to serve as an election observer this past summer in Belarus where the United States Government doesn't acknowledge President Lukashenko because he did effectively what Yasser Arafat did, he canceled an election.
I mean, it is a misnomer to say he is the chosen leader of the Palestinian people; and I think the facts on the ground are very interesting. Again, I think more facts make this thing very clear. When he made the trip after the Israeli occupation of Ramallah and his compound, where he ran to three locations, as the press has reported, he could not land in Jenin because there were protests in Jenin. But, also interesting, he had not been in Jenin since the Palestinian Authority had entered the West Bank. And the other locations that he went to, maybe there were 100 people. There was not massive support.
In other words, I think part of the problem in terms of our direct policy now is we are helping prop him up. We are helping prop him up where I think it is an awful policy mistakeI mean, he has a role in the sense that he has a historical role within the Palestinian world. But what is going on today in terms of just horrific activities that he is doing to his own people, you know, and there are some reasonable polling data in terms of issues that does take place within the Palestinian Authority, I just think it is a mistake to say that he is the chosen leader. It is not based on fact at this point in time.
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Mr. TURNER. Well, you know, assumingand I don't question your judgment with regard to hislegitimacy of his status, but the fact remains that he is, for whatever reason, held out to be the leader of the Palestinian Authority. He claims that, and he is negotiating and conducts his affairs in the way that he assumes that role.
The question I am struggling with is, what is the internal politics of the Palestinian Authority that might allow a more moderate leader to emerge and how can we contribute to that? Because it seems to me that simply to have no one to deal with, to simply say we are not going to deal with Arafat because we can't trust him and we know he is promoting terrorism, that he obviously double-deals in terms of the way he conducts business, how are we going to see our way clear to the emergence of a more moderate leader so that there is someone across that table that we can deal with that represents the Palestinians?
Mr. DEUTSCH. Let me try to reiterate.
I think the documents show his direct involvement in terrorist activity. But, also, I don't know Yasser Arafat well. I have met with him several times, but I don't know him very well. But I can give you a useful insight to help you understand just how he operates, and that is going back to the Karin A incident. Again, this is all information in the public domain.
The United States and Israel, you know, at this point, in the public domain, basically have talked about knowing of his direct involvementand, again, this is in the public domain. Secretary Powell called him up on the phone and said, why did you do this? This was a shipment of $20 million of very, very sophisticated weapons, rockets, TOW missiles. Why did you do this? And his response was, do what? And Colin Powell basically said, well, we know what you did. We know what you did. Why did you do this? And his response was, do what?
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Again, this is all public domain information. Colin Powell said, we will show you the stuff. And someone sat down and showed him the stuff. And Colin Powell calls him back and said, why did you do this? And his response was, do what?
I think for any of us on a personal level, if we were interacting with anyone in our personal lives, in our professional lives where that occurred, how could you conceive of having a relationship with that person in the future?
In termsand so I guess what I would say to you is that, you know, there is a solution. I am a believer that there is a solution. You know, how far from where Camp David was, who knows exactly how far, but there is a solution. And I am supportive of what the President has talked about. I think most of usagain, there are some that might not hold it, but if there were someone with Israel to offer, you know, peace, Israel would accept it.
There have been some discussions that, well, the reason there is terrorism is because of occupation. Well, the reality is the Israelis effectively offered to give up 98 percent of the occupied areas, at Camp David, 98 percent of the occupied areas, and yet that was rejected.
And there is a claim the reason there is terrorism is because of occupation. Well, it doesn't make any sense. The problem really has been that, you know, is therethe reality from the Israeli side is thatyou know, from Yasser Arafat directly or wherever, there still is not a fundamental acceptance of Israel's right to exist. For many Palestinians, this is the same as Crusaders. It took 150 years for Arabs in that part of the world to get rid of the Crusaders. Israel is 54 years old. There is no acceptance of Israel's right to exist, and I think there is an acceptance of that within many Palestinians.
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But I think that the role that the United States can play is to say, hey. You know, it is speaking truth to power. It is speaking reality. You know, I think the Palestinian people as a people are a bright people, I mean, have a wonderful hope, have a wonderful future. And yet, for whatever reason, this is someone who has been incapable of saying that he really wants there to be a two-state solution. Almost by definition there is a puzzle fit that works, and eventually, hopefully, it will occur.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you very much.
Mr. BARTLETT. Thank you.
Shortly after the World Trade Center bombing of 9/11, I was with a delegation that visited with the Deputy Foreign Minister of Turkey. Before that, we had met with the King of Afghanistan in his villa outside of Rome, which was a very interesting meeting. We were talking with the Deputy Foreign Minister of Turkey about Saddam Hussein and Iraq, and his caution was that, until you change the culture, taking out a single individual may not make an improvement. His caution was, who knows how many other Saddam Husseins there are in Iraq? If we simply take out Saddam Hussein and have not changed the culture, we may not have accomplished anything. As a matter of fact, the next guy might be bad or even worse.
I think the same thing is probably true of the situation in the Middle East. Clearly, Yasser Arafat is a creature of that culture. Although he did not stand for election in 2000, I don't think there is much doubt that he is supported by a lot of theprobably a major percentage of the Palestinian people.
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How do we change that culture? It is clear that the Israelis could take out Yasser Arafat any time they wish. They could have done it last night when they were shelling his compound. They could take him out any time they wish. How do we change that culture so when we take out Yasser Arafatmatter of fact, if the culture would change, we wouldn't have to take him out, would we? How do we change that culture so peace could have a chance there?
Mr. DEUTSCH. I guess I would respond in a couple ways.
I think in my 10 years in Congress and my life, I have never seen this institution, this country more united in the war against terrorism. I mean, it is not a cliche. All of us as Members live it, this whole concept that we have heard. There is no daylight between any of usthe 435 of us in this war on terrorism. In fact, that is moral clarity in the entire world. With every fiber, I couldn't be more supportive of the President's efforts; and I think all of us feel that and effectively all Americans feel it.
I think the policy problem that is existing is that moral clarity, that certainty, that ability to change the future of the world, because I think all of us understand that we live in this different world post 9/11, that we understand that terrorists or terrorist states or weapons of mass destruction are apotentially an existential threat to the United States of America. I think all of us understand that, and most of usor really very few of us thought that pre-9/11.
I think the problem in terms of Yasser Arafat personally and the Palestinian Authority is this is someone who is a terrorist. Again, the President, when asked specifically that question, has evaded it because I think the President has more facts than I have. And I think you would be blind, you would beit is impossible to come to a different conclusion. If he is a terrorist, we need to treat him as a terrorist, not as a Yasser Arafat exemption, that, okay, it is okay because we understand your issues of terrorism, which are nonissues, again, if the issue is occupation, that sort of thing.
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So I guess the response that I would say is, you know, if we have this clarityin fact, you know, again, other people can speak directly to this, but if you asked Arafat if my grandmother had wheels, she'd be a bus. But if you would ask Arafatit was GhandiI have a pretty good feel of Israeli politics.
If there was a nonviolent approach to Israel, if you understand at all the Israeli internal politics, there would have been a Palestinian State 10 years ago, maybe 20 years ago. The Israelis don'tI mean, there are 3 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. There are effectively 5 million Jews in Israel. Israel doesn't want to be in Ramallah, Nabulus, Bethlehem, Jenin, anymore than America wants to be in Afghanistan. Think about it. It is an ultimate citizen army.
In terms of the people who are thereI mean, it is the equivalent of us. It is no different than us in so many, many ways in terms of the men and women, the boys and girls who serve in their military. Their reserves are us, I mean, in terms of how theyand in a very democratic society to put men and women in harm's way. They don't want to be there. I mean, it is not a permanent status.
So I think that that realityyou know, again, I think we are still dealing with these existential issues that there are still many Palestinians that don't believe in Israel's right to exist. Once that is set in absolute stone, that that is a reality that cannot ever change, that there will be an Israel, there is an Israel, there will always be Israel, Israelis and the Jews that are in Israel are not the Crusaders. There is a fundamental historical difference between them. They have nowhere to go. They will never go, under any circumstances, no matter what happens.
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I think that reality is there. I think there are many PalestiniansI think the majority of Palestinians would prefer a two-state solution. I mean, there is a puzzle fit that works. I do think to some extent that the problem is Yasser Arafat today, because he is a terrorist. Whoever else emerged, in terms of looking at the interest of his peopleand many of us have met with individual Palestinians in a variety of different settingsyou know, they want a future.
It isI think part of the sense is that the societyand I guess I mentioned, but it is hard because so little of this is in the American pressthe society itself is so dysfunctional right now. The economy is a basket case. The Palestinian area is just a total basket case, dramatically worse than pre-Palestinian Authority. You know, things that have occurred, horrific things and human rights violations that are going on right now. I mean, the people there don't want it.
If we as the United Statesbasically, you know, we are the leaders; and saying, hey, let us change this, that I think would be the positive impetus. There is an equation that if you want to have peace, it is there, but you have to have someone who wants to have peace with you.
Again, if you go through what actually happenedI mean, you know, Camp David was rejected. It was on the table. A two-state solution was on the table, and Yasser Arafat said no. He could have said yes, but he said no. Ambassador Indyk can speak more directly to the specifics since he was there throughout the negotiations, but that occurred.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So I am not saying we should take out Yasser Arafat. I don't think the Israelis should take out Yasser Arafat. That is not the debate. What I would say very, very strongly is that the guy is a terrorist. The evidence is overwhelming of his personal involvement in terrorist activities, not theoretical involvement, I mean his personal involvement. The evidence is so overwhelming.
How do we want to treat him? How do we want to deal with that person? I think some of the quotes that the chairman mentioned from the administration, I think this is the struggle that is going on in the administration. They have more facts than I have, but, as I said a number of times, in the public domainthe evidence that is in the public domain is overwhelming as far as his personal involvement in terrorist activitiesunbelievable, extensive evidence.
The President has been very strong, but I think there is clearly a struggle in the administration on what to do. And I would say very strongly, and the people in the administration support this position, is basically say, okay, we live in a post-Arafat era and whatever the Palestinians choose beyond that, you know, that is their choice, but they will choose that, and we are not going to prop this guy up any more than we have done.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you, Mr. Deutsch. I have informally polled the rest of the remaining members. We have no more questions at this time. We want to thank you for your dedication and enthusiasm in bringing this message to us this morning.
We are now going to proceed with our panel of experts. We are going ask Rachel Ehrenfeld to come the table and Ambassador Indyk take a seat also and Jim Phillips from The Heritage Foundation. We will move from your right to left.
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Ms. Ehrenfeld, if you would like to begin, if you are ready, at this time.
STATEMENT OF RACHEL EHRENFELD, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF CORRUPTION AND THE RULE OF LAW (CSC)
Ms. EHRENFELD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is my honor to contribute to the committee's important deliberations on the question, are Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority credible partners for peace?
The answer is a resounding no; and today, unfortunately, there are 17 more dead young men and women to demonstrate again why the answer is no. And there is more. Arafat, for example, has repeatedly claimed that the Al Aqsa Intifada was a popular uprising. But last week, on May 28th to be exact, Mazen Izz Al Din, the chief of the Palestinian security forces political indoctrination department, told Palestinian national television that the uprising was in fact anything but. We have to be truthful and honest and spell it out, Mazen said. One day history will expose the fact that the whole Intifada and its instructions came from Brother Commander Yasser Arafat.
More egregiously still, Mazen's statement was made at a rally in Gaza honoring the homicide bombers of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, a group directly related to the Tanzim, the armed wing of Arafat's Fatah movement.
The real reason behind the Intifada, however, can be found in almost daily demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza against Arafat and the PA's corruption. Igniting another Intifada enabled Arafat to redefine economic decline in the territories.
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When Arafat took over the cities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in May 1994, the economy was improving. According to surveys in Israel that were supported by the World Bank and UNESCO, the West Bank, their capital gross domestic product before the Oslo Accord in 1993 was approximately $3,500 and in Gaza about $2,800. Now the Palestinian economy is in shambles. According to the national monetary institutions, the unemployment rate before the Intifada was about 10 percent and is now about 40 percent; and per capita income went from $1,500, $2,000 down to $1,000 today.
This graph, based on the World Bank and UNESCO estimates, shows how the GDP and GNP had dropped since Arafat and the PA took over. I think it is quite telling.
Arafat's government, nevertheless, was and remains defiant. He was supposed to enact some reforms in 1997 and did nothing. When U.S. Envoys William Burns and George Tenet were sent to oversee Palestinian reform efforts and restart talks between the PA and Israel, the official Palestine news agency, WAFA, had this to say on June 2nd: Reorganizing our Palestinian affairs is our own free choice which no one has the right or the permission to intervene or set terms and conditions. The world should realize that these reforms were a result of a self decision by President Arafat and not according to foreign demands, Israeli or U.S.A., who behave as a vector imposing terms. The Israeli and the U.S. Target is to stall for time to establish new status quos in the Occupied Lands, and our target is to bond our forces to be able to finish the Israeli occupation which is supported and backed by the U.S.
Make no mistake. Arafat's so-called reforms are aimed at creating a coalition between elements of the Fatah partythe Tanzim and the Al Aqsa Martyr's Brigadeand the Palestinian Islamist opposition led by Hamas. All are identified as terrorist organizations by the U.S. Department of State, and the new partnership is already emerging in the form of cooperation with the Hezbollah to introduce chemical homicidal bombings. Arafat's terrorist coalition has long-term, dangerous implications for both Israel and the U.S.
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Israel is just the testing ground. Quite simply, as long as Arafat controls the Palestinian Authority's funds and his current, corrupt leadership remains in power, no real reform is possible. This is clear in the institutionalized rhetoric of incitementagainst both Israel and the U.S.which has become endemic to the Palestinian press.
On August 30, 2001, only days before the World Trade Center attack, the Palestinian paper Al-Ayyam relayed the following message: The Palestiniansthis is a quotethe Palestinians must harm American interests in the Arab world, with all possible means, in all places, at all levels, because the U.S. Does not understand the language of logic and wisdom, but only the language of interests and force.
Pictures of Palestinian mobs burning American flags demonstrate the sentiment all the time.
On September 11, the day the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked, the official daily of Arafat's PA, Al Hayat Al Jadida, said that the suicide bombers of today are the noble successors of their noble predecessorsthe Lebanese suicide bombers, who taught the U.S. Marines a tough lesson in Lebanon.
Pictures of Palestinians celebrating following the World Trade Center attack were carried by CNN and seen all over the world. Here are a few pictures of Palestinian rallies praising the suicide bombers and burning the American flag, as well as pictures carried in similar rallies praising Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.
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Two weeks ago, while visiting Israel, I watched with dismay Palestinian national television programs where members of the PA praised the suicide bombers and called for more volunteers to continue the war, including Chairman Arafat. Several programs ended with footage showing people who had been allegedly corroborating with Israel being lynched. These were gruesome pictures showing human beings being tortured, stabbed, shot and dismembered in public while 5- and 10-year-old children cheered. These are the terrorists of tomorrow being trained today, and to watch it is horrifying.
On a personal note, I would have not been able to be here today had the tanker truck which was loading in Pi Glilot, the above-ground fuel depot located north of Tel Aviv, exploded 2 weeks ago. Had the terrorist bomb succeeded to ignite the tank farm, tens of thousands of innocent civilians, including me, would have evaporated in a fireball similar to the one we saw consume the World Trade Center. Yasser Arafat's Fatah's Tanzim has claimed responsibility for the failed attack.
The documents recently captured by the IDF at Arafat's compound in Ramallah provided a wealth of clear evidencewe saw some of it herethat Arafat and the Palestinian Authority are involved in the systematic, institutionalized and ongoing financing of the Fatah's Tanzim and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Each month Arafat distributes, through the PA Finance Ministry, large sums of money and funds terrorist infrastructure and activities.
The Bush administration and Congress need to recognize that the Palestinian leadership's verbal attacks on the U.S. Are not just propaganda for internal consumption. There is ample evidence that they really mean what they say. We saw the same message after the terrible attacks on the U.S., and we continue to hear it today. Let us recognize that Arafat and his cadre are meeting the definition of terrorists using President Bush's own definition.
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Addressing the graduates at West Point last week, President Bush said: Targeting innocent civilians for murder is always and everywhere wrong. We are in a conflict between good and evil, and America will call evil by its name. By confronting evil in lawless regimes we do not create a problem, we reveal a problem; and we will lead the world in opposing it.
The U.S. Must match these words with actions to demonstrate forcefully and unequivocally that Arafat and his corrupt and lawless regime are part of the problem, not part of the solution in our war on terrorism.
I just want to reiterate, the supportalleged support of the Palestinian people to Arafat. There were demonstrationsArafat didn't go to Jenin, and he is not wandering around too much because the people don't like him and demonstrate against him, even under these conditions. However, we see someif you watch CNN, you can see that there are some people thereI guess they come when CNN is around. But if you are there and if you see it for yourself, you see that there are very few people, and the support is small and that the people are suffering, and they don't want him there, and we should do something in order to call him what he is, evil, and get rid of him.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Ehrenfeld can be viewed in the hard copy.]
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Mr. SAXTON. Ambassador.
STATEMENT OF AMBASSADOR MARTIN S. INDYK, SENIOR FELLOW, FOREIGN POLICY STUDIES DIRECTOR, SABAN CENTER FOR MIDDLE EAST POLICY, THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION
Ambassador INDYK. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the opportunity to address your panel on terrorism today.
I have prepared a statement which I am not intending to read, and I would appreciate if it could be entered into the record.
In your opening remarks, Mr. Chairman read out a quote from Ari Fleischer, the President's spokesman at the White House; and I would just like to read on as part of that because I think it highlights the problem that the panel is trying to grapple with this morning.
He went on to say, the United States will continue to work with Chairman Arafat. Our efforts will continue on a multilevel within the Palestinian Authority, and that includes Chairman Arafat. The point of the President is what the people of Palestine need and what the people of Israel need is a leadership that is willing to take action to prevent violence.
My point today, Mr. Chairman, is that the people of Palestine don't have a leadership in Chairman Arafat that is willing to take action to prevent violence; and it is time that the administration reaches that conclusion.
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I think it is important to put this in historical perspective. The whole reason that Yasser Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization were taken off the terrorism list, the State Department's terrorism list, and welcomed to the White House for that signing ceremony on September 13, 1993, was to put Arafat to the test of leadership. He, before that event occurred, forswore, renounced terrorism and committed himself and his organizationand I will quote from the letter that he wrote to Yitzhak Rabin on September 9, 1993, committed himself and his organization to renounce the use of terrorism and other acts of violence and will assume responsibility over all PLO elements and personnel in order to ensure their compliance, prevent violations and discipline violators.
It was on the basis of that commitment that Yasser Arafat was returned to Gaza and a basic compact was undertaken, as encapsulated in the Oslo agreements, that he would stop the terrorism, confront the Hamas terrorist organizations and other terrorist organizations. In return for doing that, he and the Palestinian Authority would acquire more and more control of the territory, first of all, in Gaza and then in the West Bank over a period of 5 years. It was a test of his leadership; and I think we can say, after some 8 years, that he failed the test of leadership.
He did not confront Hamas or the other terrorist organizations, with one notable exception in 1996, which proved that he can, in fact do it, but it wasn't a sustained effort. Worse than that, in the last few years, he allowed his own Fatah organization, his political arm within the PLO, to morph into armed militias which then, when the Intifada broke out, moved back into the terrorist mode that the Fatah organization had given up. And Yasser Arafat signed that commitment back in 1993. Indeed, Fatah's Tanzim, particularly Al Aqsa Martyr Brigades, have been responsible for some of the worst incidents of suicide bombings, including the introduction of female suicide bombers during this last year-and-a-half.
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Why does Arafat act like this? I think that to understand his failure to live up to this test one needs to understand something about his leadership style. He over the yearsnot just after 1993 but indeed before itwas insistent on avoiding confronting his opposition. Whether it was political or military opposition, he always sought to corrupt it so as to ensure that there was not division within the Palestinian ranks. His whole approach to decisionmaking is to try to wait for a consensus to be formed, rather than to lead one; and he is not willing to stand up to his people and tell them any kind of hard words.
That I think is the heart of the reason why he did not accept the deal that Congressman Deutsch referred to at the end of the Clinton administration when the Palestinians were offered an independent Palestinian state in 95 to 97 percent of the West Bank, all of Gaza with territorial compensation for the other 3 to 5 percent, with Palestinian sovereignty over the Arab areas of Jerusalem and a fair solution for the refugee problem. But that would have required him to stand up and tell his people that there would be no right of return for the Palestinian refugees to Israel, and he was not prepared to do that.
In addition to that, I think it is fair to say over the past 9 years that one can conclude that Arafat was not prepared to give up what in his terms he would regard as the military option. That is the ability to use violence and indeed terrorism to try to extract greater political concessions from the Israelis.
One has to ask oneself why Yasser Arafat alone does not wear anything but a uniform. I think it is symbolic of the fact that he still believes that military option in his terms, since he doesn't have an army, is a useful option.
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Beyond that, he is a tactician, not a strategist. I think Israelis mistake this and they seemany of them see in him a person who is determined to destroy the state of Israel. I think that if he had the opportunity, he would do it, but I think he is realistic enough to know that he can't.
But he is not a person who sets a strategic objective and moves toward it. He is much more the kind of a person who wakes up in the morning and tests which way the wind is blowing and adjusts his sails to that direction. He surfs on the back of the suffering of his people, but he does not seek to lead them to any particular safe harbor.
He is a survivor who builds his popularity on his ability to present himself as the struggler, as the man who stands steadfast against all odds, particularly against Israeli tanks. He prefers to present himself as a victim. He is the master of that tactic of the power of the weak in which he avoids all responsibility. The way he does this, Mr. Chairman, is to create a mythological worldand some of you may have experienced thiswhere he simply makes up things, a mythological world in which he, therefore, is not responsible for anything.
It is usually the Mossad's fault. His first response when he was presented with the evidence of this shipment of arms from Iran was that it was a Mossad plot. When I went to see him after the June bombing 1 year ago, almost 1 year ago today, outside the discotheque in Tel Aviv which killed 21 Israeli teenagers, he told me in great detail how it was a Mossad plot to put him in the corner and make life difficult for him. In this way, they say he manages to escape responsibility for anything to do with living up to his commitments.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But it was responsibility that he was expected to assume in 1993 when he made those commitments, and at heart his failure to do that is a failure of the issue. As a result of that, after 9 years, we see now that he is rejected as a peace partner by Israelis across the board, from left to right. It is not just Prime Minister Sharon who says he won't deal with Yasser Arafat, it is the leader of the Labor Party, Defense Minister Ben Eliezer, that says that Arafat is history.
There is no way in which the Israelis will do a deal with a person whom they have come to regard as completely untrustworthy, as a serial breaker of agreements.
At the same time, contrary to what some members of the panel have suggestedand it is understandable, because I think the media distorts itis that he does not enjoy great popularity amongst his own people, as Ms. Ehrenfeld has suggested. In fact, Palestinian pollingthe latest poll taken just a few weeks ago by Palestinians showed him with only 34 percent support amongst the Palestinian people. The same poll showed something like 90 percent of Palestinians want meaningful reform.
I think this is the most important development that has occurred in the last month or so, that the Palestinians people themselves are now demanding a change in their leadership.
So the answer to your question that you posed today is, no, he is not a credible partner. But that answer is coming not from this panel so much as it is coming from Israelis and from Palestinians; and the question I think we need to ask is, when will our own administration reach the same conclusion?
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Thank you very much.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you very much, Ambassador.
[The prepared statement of Ambassador Indyk can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Mr. SAXTON. Mr. Phillips.
STATEMENT OF JAMES PHILLIPS, RESEARCH FELLOW, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION
Mr. PHILLIPS. Yes. Thank you, Chairman Saxton, for the opportunity to testify today on this very important question: Is Yasser Arafat and are the Palestinian Authority credible partners for peace?
Based on the historical record, Arafat's long history of terrorism and duplicity, I think the answer is a resounding no; and there is a lot of talk today and recently about reforming the Palestinian Authority from underneath Arafat, but I think that is unrealistic. The problem is, as long as Arafat holds the reins of power, no amount of tinkering with institutional reforms is likely to produce the desired results of a Palestinian Authority that is willing and able to negotiate a lasting and stable peace with Israel.
Arafat remains what he has always been, the radical leader of a revolutionary movement that uses terrorism as a fundamental instrument of power. Unfortunately, he has not made the transition to the role of statesman, as the Israelis gambled he would when they signed the 1993 Oslo Accord in the hope that Arafat not only would renounce terrorism but would crack down on the terrorists operations of Hamas, Palestine Islamic Jihad, and other radical Palestinian movements that rejected peace with Israel.
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Instead, Arafat merely paid lip service to his Oslo commitments, the commitments to fight terrorism; and, since 1993, he halfheartedly has gone through the motions of clamping down on terrorism from time to time under intense international pressure. He has arrested the usual suspects, only to turn them loose again. This kind of revolving door policy has greatly undermined Israeli trust as an ostensible partner for peace and raised serious doubts about Arafat's long-term intentions.
Rather than prepare his people for peace, it is clear that he has been indoctrinating them for war. He has praised suicide bombers as martyrs and repeatedly has called for a Jihad to liberate Jerusalem. Arafat, the veteran terrorist, has created an atmosphere in which terrorism flourishes. The Palestinian Authority continues to educate Palestinian children to hate Israelis. As a conservative, I believe that ideas have consequences.
The sad truth is, as long as Arafat remains the leader of the Palestinians, there is little chance of a genuine peace. His long history of terrorism, which he has used to cement control over the Palestinians and to attack Israelis and to attack other Arabs, indicates that he can't be trusted; and it is important to look at his historical record and realize that he has violated agreements not only with the Israelis but with other Arab states.
In 1970, he led a Palestinian uprising against King Hussein in Jordan, despite his previous pledges to respect Jordanian sovereignty. When Arafat's forces were crushed by the Jordanian Army during Black September, he moved his base of operations to Lebanon. There, despite repeated promises that he would not become involved in Lebanese politics, he did just that and helped buildhe built a state within a state in southern Lebanon and helped precipitate the Lebanese civil war of 1975 and 1976.
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Chronic cross-border Palestinian terrorism against Israeli provoked two Israeli military interventions in Lebanon and resulted in Arafat's expulsion from Beirut in 1982. He was rescued from irrelevance by the Israeli government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, which began the secret negotiations that evolved into the Oslo process. Rabin gambled that Arafat would be a dependable negotiating partner, but neither Rabin nor his successors have been able to hold the slippery Arafat to make good on his commitments under the Oslo negotiating framework.
Benjamin Netanyahu, who was elected on a platform of peace and security, signed several interim agreements with Arafat that the Palestinians promptly violated; and by the end of the his term, Netanyahu refused to sign new agreements with the Palestinians until Arafat lived up to his old agreements.
Netanyahu's successor, Ehud Barak led one of the most dovish Israeli governments in history, yet even Barak was unable to negotiate a final settlement with Arafat. At the Camp David summit in July of 2000, Arafat walked away from a deal that offered the Palestinians over 90 percent of the disputed territories and control over the Temple Mount, located in the heart of Jerusalem.
Arafat then reverted to the war process when he could not get everything he wanted out of the peace process. He gave the green light to the Intifada in September of 2000 and used the Palestinians' radio and television broadcasts to incite violence against Israelis. Suicide bombings, which formerly had been a tactic employed by Palestinians Islamic militants, increasingly were carried out by the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which is an offshoot of Arafat's Fatah organization.
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Arafat is an extremely unreliable partner in peace negotiations. He has violated every agreement that he has signed. He has never fulfilled his obligations under the Oslo Accords. In fact, members of his police force have taken the lead in terrorism against Israelis.
After a series of suicide bombings led Israel to raid Arafat's West Bank headquarters earlier this year, the IDF discovered numerous documents which Congressman Deutsch referred to. These are available on the Internet. If anyone has any doubts about Arafat's reliability as a partner for peace, they should look at these documents.
In conclusion, I would just say that Arafat has had ample time to prove himself as a true partner for peace and he has failed miserably to do so. Largely due to his cynical policies, Palestinians and Israelis are engulfed in more terrorism and violence today than they were before the beginning of the Oslo process in 1993.
It should be clear that Yasser Arafat is part of the problem and not part of the solution for reaching a genuine Arab/Israeli peace.
Mr. SAXTON. Mr. Phillips, thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Phillips can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Mr. SAXTON. You have each documented for us your perception of the character of Yasser Arafat. I would just like to open up with kind of a general question about our understanding of terrorist leaders, as exemplified by Chairman Arafat.
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It seems to me that, over the years that we have been dealing with this subject, it has become fairly evident, at least to me, that it is very difficult for Western people to come to grips with the nature of terrorism, terrorists, and terrorist leaders. We tend to view these things from a Western perspective. We tend to view Yasser Arafat from a Western perspective. That is natural because we are Westerners.
We have a way of thinking that has been at least demonstrated to me to be quite different than the thought patterns and the processes used in thinking by the likes of Arafat. As a result, we haveit seems to me we have had a very difficult time coming to grips with the realities that are facedthat we face today.
In 1993, Yossef Bodansky, who is sitting in the front row, wrote a book called Target America. On page 15 of the book he wrote these words: According to a former terrorist trainee, one of the exercises included having an Islamic Jihad detachment seize or hijack a transport aircraft. Then trained air crews from among the terrorists would crash the airliner with passengers into a selected target.
That was 8 years before 9/11, and we as a societyI am using this as an examplewe as a society refused to come to grips with that possibility, and we were shocked in September of 2001 when that very thing occurred.
So how can we as a group of people who care deeply about developing understandings that permit us to deal with these issues, how can we use Yasser Arafat as an example to the rest of the world as to what these people and leaders are all about?
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Ms. EHRENFELD. I think that we can actually sit and read out loud the other books that Mr. Badanski has written, because everything that he has written before, unfortunately, came to fruition, including bin Ladin.
The basic difference I think between various terrorist organizations that exist in the world and terrorist organizations like bin Ladin and the ones that Arafat is leading, the difference is that they are basedthey are using religion as a tool. And Islamic radical Muslim countries are run differently than other countries. They have a system where the biathey call it a biawhich is an alleged agreement between the ruler and the people he rules, the ruler will see to it that nothing will change, and they will vote for him in place of the elections.
Look at Egypt, at Tunisia, and other places. These are not free elections. The rulers continue to do what they are doing, and they incite the people. Poverty is growing. Corruption is tremendous. And when religion is playing this role, this is the most important and uniting factor, the thinking is different. It is different. To illustrate how the thinking is different, we are talking about the suicide bombers, for example.
Arafat is high up there. He is a political inciter, if you want. Bin Ladin is the same. The mullahs are the same. But then you have the master terrorists that are training the people, that are recruiting the people, that are arming the people, that are giving them the explosives, that are sending them out, that are planning the whole thing. Those people are behind. Most of them are not known to us. Sheik Hasein is one that was released from prison, unfortunately; and he is back in Gaza.
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To study how these people think, how they send their armies, these weapons, the suicide bombers, is a very interesting thing to do. If we will concentrate more on studying how this is happening, learn the process, I think we will understand more what can be done in order to stop it. Because by the time we understand how in general people like Arafat think, it will be too late.
There was a study just recently conducted by an Israeli by the name of Annetta Bacho. She studied those master terrorists who are sending the suicide bombers out. She had the opportunity to interview them and test them, and she found outit is a long study. I won't go into it. But what she found was that had these people known the master terrorists who sent other people to die and to kill many others, had they known that their families would be punished, they would not do what they are doing. They would stop.
That is something that we should consider and look into, justin order tobefore even understanding anything, because we have to stop this from happening, because it is coming here.
Mr. SAXTON. Ambassador.
Ambassador INDYK. Well, I am not convinced that that is a viable approach. It is clear that the suicide bombers' families are endorsing and supporting what they are doing and being rewarded financially for that.
I will try to answer your question in a little bit of a different way, Mr. Chairman.
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The problem with using Arafat in the way that you want to is that within much of the rest of the world, particularly in the Arab world, there has been a lot of confusion or blurring of the line between terrorist actsthat is, the act of taking the lives of innocent peopleand what is referred to as resistance struggles or liberation struggles. As a result of the blurring of that line, which the Palestinian terrorist organizations did a lot to do, there is a lot of support for the use of terrorism against Israelis as a legitimate means to try to end the Israeli occupation.
So certainly in the Arab press and in Arab society, before September the 11th, these kinds of terrorist activities were hailed as resistance operations, as martyrdom operations and not as suicide bombings. In the wake of September the 11th, with the President taking the lead in terms of this moral clarity, when he said very clearly, you know, there is no distinction between good terrorism and bad terrorism, it is all terrorism and nothing can justify the taking of innocent lives, you saw some in the Arab world, particularly in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the leadership there, taking a different stance and saying that these kinds of operations are not acceptable within Islam. And Sheik Alazhar and the Sheik of the Holy Mosque of Mecca also came out and opposed any kind of terrorism as terrorism and as against Islam.
The problem when it comes actually to applying the rule to Yasser Arafat is that our own administration is reluctant to draw the same conclusion. Yes, of course, they condemn the terrorism as suicide bombing. But they don'tor they avoid the conclusion that Yasser Arafat has some responsibility for this.
If you look at the reports required by the Congress to examine these issues, the PLO Commitments and Compliance Act Report, for instance, which was sent up to Congress last month, or even in the terrorism report that the State Department issues, you will see in the two latest reports there is an avoidance of reaching the conclusion that Yasser Arafat is involved in these kinds of terrorist activities; and I think that is a mistake.
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You will see Assistant Secretary Kelly, Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, in a cover letter to the transmittal letter to the report saying that whether or notI am paraphrasing herewhether or not Yasser Arafat is involved in terrorism it is not in the national interest of the United States to reach such a conclusion at this time.
And I would argue with that. I think it is time to reach such a collision and that that will have a much stronger impact on the battle against terrorism, particularly in terms of affecting the climate in the Arab world.
Mr. SAXTON. Ambassador, you make a very good point; and let me just emphasize the point that you make, except you and I have one difference that has to do with timing.
When Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Rabin were invited to the Rose Garden for that famous handshake and signing, I was invited to be there. I declined to go because I at that time had drawn the same conclusion that you now draw. And I was right. So it is a bit unfair, as you having been part of that administration, for you to now claim that it is time for this administration to draw the conclusion that I drew in 1993.
Ambassador INDYK. If I can respond to that?
I think history has proven you right. I think Mr. Phillips in his testimony made clear the reason that Yasser Arafat was brought to the White House lawn. That is, that an agreement was reached between him and the government of Israel, and he made certain commitments to renounce terrorism and to fight terrorism. As I said in my own presentation, he did not live up to those commitments. He was put to the test by an elected government of Israel in an attempt to try to achieve peace between Israel the Palestinians, and the United States supported that effort and that test. But the testthe results are clear. So I think we need to draw the conclusion.
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Mr. SAXTON. The results are clear, and the results were clear. That agreement came about with much pressure from the United States administration at that time, and it was not an agreement
lAmbassador INDYK. It was actually done behind our backs.
Mr. SAXTON [continuing]. Willfully entered into by the democracy that we know as Israel.
Mr. PHILLIPS. Well, I think one reason there is a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings of Yasser Arafat is that we have failed to appreciate the degree to which he is, first and foremost, a revolutionary. You know, he is not into terrorism just for the sake of terrorism. There is a method to his madness. That method is to attain control over the Palestinian people and play a role within the broader Arab world. As other Arab states, including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, have found out to their disappointment, Arafat was very quick to turn against them. Despite supportfinancial support they gave him, he went with Saddam Hussein and supported the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
He used his revolutionary tactics and terrorism not only to intimidate Palestinian moderates and outmaneuver traditional Palestinian leaders, but it isthis commitment to revolution is reflected in some of the slogans of the Palestinian movement, the revolution until victory.
I would argue that he cares more about revolution and his status within the Palestinian's revolution than he does about the Palestinian people which he cynically uses to push forward his own revolutionary role within the Palestinian politics and within the broader Arab world.
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I would argue that he was interested in a peace process but not in a genuine peace. Because in a peace process he was able to reenter the territories and build up his infrastructure on the West Bank and Gaza, but he knew that if he actually signed a final peace agreement with Israel that would undermine him within the revolutionary camp and lead to problems down the line for him.
I don't think that he was willingin order for the Oslo process to work, I think there had to be a Palestinian civil war in which pragmatic Palestinians defeated revolutionaries. Unfortunately, I don't think that Arafat was ever going to do that.
I mean, I would like to say that the Irish situation, where you had more pragmatic Irish revolutionaries restrain the ultraradical who were interested in northern Ireland as well as southern Ireland, there couldn't be peace in southern Ireland until the ultraradicals were overthrown. That didn't happen in the Palestinian revolutionary camp.
I would say that Arafat should be understood as the leader of a gang in which he doesn't care as much about what happens to his own people as long as the gang stays in power, and I think the failure to understand that has led to much wishful thinking.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you.
Dr. Ehrenfeld, do you have a follow-up?
Ms. EHRENFELD. I wanted to call attention again to the corruption that Arafat has brought with him and was knownor should have been knownback in 1993.
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Like you, Mr. Chairman, I was not invited to the White House lawn, but I wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal detailing how much money Arafat and the Palestinean Liberation Army (PLA) has, how much money they have stolen, stashed away, money that was contributed to the Palestinian people for many, many years. He claimed poverty, and we started to give him money, and other international organizations started to give him money, and billions of dollars disappeared. Where are they? They have been used to fund terrorist activities and to buy property all over the world, including in the United States.
I think that one of the things that we should do, once the air is a little bit cleared, is to find out where the money is and give it to the Palestinian people who deserve it.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you.
Mr. TURNER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ambassador, I wanted to address the comments you made; and I must say at the outset, as the ranking Democrat on this panel, I have no insight into the administration's thinking. But I would say that to draw the conclusion, as I think you drew a minute ago, when you said the administration is avoiding the conclusion that Arafat has some responsibility for terrorism is a statement that I would have to disagree with.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Because I have a sense, particularly in light of the President's comments of his distrust or the fact that Arafat has not earned his trust, the clear sense that the administration and the President question Arafat's role and, in fact, understand his role and responsibility for terrorism. As all of our witnesses have said, Arafat has proved to be unreliable. He has proved to be duplicitous. He has proven, for his own interests, not to be willing to take on the more radical elements of the Palestinian movement, as opposed to siding with the, as you said, Mr. Phillips, some of the more pragmatic elements of the Palestinian movement.
So it seems to me that the difficulty that perhaps the administration faces is not in the conclusion as to whether or not Arafat is trustworthy or not, which seems to be a conclusion that we have all reached that he is not, but the issue is, what is the next step? How do you assist in bringing more moderate leadership to the Palestinian people?
If the answer was to take Arafat out, the Israelis had that opportunity when they held his compound and held him within his compound for days. Whether the failure of the Israelis to take him out at that time was the result of their own judgment or some message from the White House, I have no way of knowing. But the judgment was obviously made by someone.
I suspect that the reason that he was not taken out is because the end game has not yet been determined. That is, the path toward putting in place some more moderate leadership within the Palestinian movement has not been worked out. And nobody has this game plan. Nobody sees how we get from here to there.
I guess my question, Ambassador, for you, having drawn the conclusion that you have, what would you advise the administration to do to assist in achieving more moderate leadership within the Palestinian movement and leadership that would sit down at the negotiating table and strike a deal for peace?
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Ambassador INDYK. I think you are absolutely right in your posing of the dilemma. But what I do feel now is that the time is ripe for reaching the conclusion, rather than avoiding reaching the conclusion. And I say that because something has changed on the Palestinian side in the last month. That is to say, the opposition to the arbitrary rule that Yasser Arafat has imposed on the Palestinians of the corrupt leadership and the nonrepresentative leadership that the Palestinians have had to live with for the past 9 years has now produced an overwhelming demand from the Palestinian people for a change, for a change in their leadership. That is what reform, the call for reform, is about.
So although it is hard to delineate the exact path in which this is going to go down, I think that at this particular moment for the United States to stand up and say we think the Palestinian people deserve a responsible, representative, democratic, transparent, accountable leadership, and we support the Palestinian people in the demand for that and when they achieve that we will work with that leadership to achieve an independent Palestinian state which the President has now committed the United States to doingbut, until that time, we are not going to deal with Yasser Arafat.
I believe that, in these circumstances, that can help the process of reform more than continuing to grapple with the dilemma without reaching that decision. Because the more we delay that decision the more we find ourselves in a situation where, when we send our diplomats out to the region to talk about reform, they have no choice but to deal with Yasser Arafat, or when we send the director of the CIA, George Tenet, out to deal with the restructuring of the services, he deals with Yasser Arafat. As a result, the process of reform, the demand for reform is channeled in a direction which doesn't produce reform at all.
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If you will allow me to give one example of this in terms of the restructuring of the security, Yasser Arafat announced his restructuring plans before George Tenet arrived to see him and he put in place to head this restructured security apparatus General Yickya. He is a very fine gentleman. I know him well, and I have negotiated with him. But he is not in a position to exercise control over the security forces or revamp them. He is totally dependent of Yasser Arafat, which is the way that Yasser Arafat wants it to be. Basically, what the maneuvering that is going on here does is to ensure that Arafat retains all authority in his own hands. It is a kind of sham reform.
How do we avoid giving the impression to the Palestinian people that we are endorsing that if we continue to meet with him and continue to discuss those things with him? It is very difficult.
So I believe that from a policy perspective, rather than political perspective, we are better off at this point taking a stand, as previous administrations have done from time to time, including Bush 91, which broke relations with Yasser Arafat, suspended relations with Yasser Arafat because of his involvement and the involvement of a constituent organization in the Achille Lauro affair.
So it is not unprecedented. The question is whether it would be helpful or harmful to the effort to try to achieve a more responsible leadership, and I believe at this moment it would be helpful to reach that judgment.
Mr. TURNER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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Mr. SAXTON. Thank you, Mr. Turner.
Mr. HAYES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I am confused. Not by the issue, I am very clear on Arafat is a terrorist. What is confusing to me is how do you separate Arafat and his supporters from those Palestinians who would be peace-loving, democracy-seeking individuals? That is the first question.
I also like your comments on something that I have heard recently. I don't remember the source. But, basically, it says that this is the only case in history where people have been maintainedmy word not theirsas so-called refugees for over 50 years. It is clearly a manipulation by individuals to perpetrate an ongoing crime against their own people in order to change their own status or to maintain their status as terrorists and murderers.
Could you answer the first and comment on the second? I am not sure who to call on. Dr. Ehrenfeld, if you volunteer.
Ms. EHRENFELD. I think that I agree with you. I think thatI don't think, I know that the refugee camps are still refugees, because none of the Arab countries want them to solve the problem. There was no call before 1997 for any Palestinian state whatsoever. Even after Arafat had taken over the territories in 1994, what we are talking about, the occupationwhat occupation? He had been there. He was supposed to see to it that the place would develop and the people would be better off. And what happened? It is much worse.
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He has been controlling the area, not the Israelis. The Israelis went in now with the suicide bombing to clean up.
The occupation, I don't think it is only Arafat and a few of his friends that are running the Palestinian Authority. I think it has a lot to do with Saudi Arabia and Iran and Syria and Egypt that are continuing and are interested to continue the refugee status for their own reasons.
So when we are looking at the solution there, we have to look into the larger political issue as well.
Without Saudi funding, Yasser Arafat could not be where he is today. They are not only funding the Hamas, they are heavily funding Arafat and the suicide bombings; and the Arab bank is the major channel for all of this money, the Saudi bank. So I think it is a much larger issue that we have to deal with if we really want to approach it and understand, or actually to understand it, then to approach and try to solve it.
Mr. HAYES. Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, and a couple of others have been declared pariahs and agreed to by the rest of the majority of the free world. What is keeping us from making the same declaration on Arafat? Ambassador.
Ambassador INDYK. Well, I think it is a difficult dilemma. If you don't deal with Yasser Arafat, who do you deal with on the Palestinian side? Therefore, how do you get out of this crisis? If the U.S. Wants to try to use its influence to try to get out of this crisis, it needs to deal with somebody on the Palestinian side. That is the reason why there has been a reluctance to take the stand in Arafat's case in the way that we have done with others who have failed the test of leadership or refused to give up on support for terrorism.
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The basic problem that the Administration has now is that it is under intense pressure to do something to stop the fighting and to launch a viable political process. But it doesn't have the tools to work with. There is no Palestinian structure and leadership that is willing to fight the terrorists and stop the terrorists, and there is no Palestinian political leadership that the Israelis would be prepared to deal with at the moment in terms of establishing a viable negotiation. There is, in effect, no partner on the Palestinian side, so there are various attempts to try to deal with this dilemma.
You may have seen Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egypt, in an interview with the New York Times 2 days ago where he said, let's use Arafat now. He is in a weak position, he will make all the compromises, and then in a year from now we will appoint somebody more responsible in his place.
Mr. HAYES. I don't want to take the time of the gentleman.
Mr. SAXTON. Let me say where we are. We started these hearings at 8:30 to try to avoid what is happening now. But here we are. We have a 15-minute vote. There is a motion to adjourn. Then we have a 15-minute vote on Dennis Kucinich's resolution, and we have a 15-minute vote on the journal, and then a 5-minute vote on a rule. So I guess we can take the next 5 or 10 minutes and then it is probably realistic to draw this hearing to a close.
Mr. SNYDER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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With the chairman's indulgence, I know you three are academics and have a lot to say. I would like to ask a question for the record, if I might. My question for the record is, I hope you all will feel free to respond to anything you have said or heard today or anything you think of later and provide it to the staff here and/or to me, and I will be glad to see that it gets distributed to all of the members of the panel.
Mr. Ambassador, I would like to direct my questions to you for the next 5 minutes, if I might. I appreciated visiting with you in December of 2000 when I visited there. You were very, very helpful and did an excellent job on behalf of America.
You mentioned the polling data of the 34 percent support for Arafat and overwhelming support for reform. How much freedom do the Palestinian people have within their own ranks to bring about that reform? How realistic is it to expect that kind of reform to come any time soon from the Palestinian people?
Ambassador INDYK. I think it is very realistic. You already see Yasser Arafat responding to those demands for reform, first of all, by calling for new elections. He then kind of maneuvered to say, to put a condition on it that Israel would have to withdrew at least from the A areas first before such elections could take place, therefore postponing the day. But it is an indication of his feeling the need to respond to it.
The restructuring of the security service was a Palestinian demand. He is now responding to that. The reduction of the size of his cabinet is a similar demand, and he is now responding to that.
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But it is alwaysthere is a kind of dialectic here between what the Palestinians demand for themselves and what the international community demands of the Palestinian leadership. Because Arafat has gained a lot of his legitimacy from the fact that he has support from the international community and from the Arab world, that he is recognized internationally as the leader of the Palestinian people.
If it becomes clear that the outside world is supporting the Palestinian people in their demands, that increases the pressure on him. But, ultimately, while he stays in power, there is going to be a limit to how real these reforms are going to be; and then the question will be whether the Palestinian people will be satisfied with that or not.
Mr. SNYDER. My second question is, I think there was a statement I heard in the last day or two, again from the Israeli leadership, that there will be no negotiations until all violence has stopped. We see that same tone taken somewhat in the Kashmir situation, that nothingthere will be no sit-down until all cross-border stuff is stopped.
It seems to me from my position here, not being in the diplomatic corps, that that kind of statement puts the power in the hands of the most extreme elements, that someone who is successful and may be entirely independent of any kind of line of authority from anyone, if they are successful in some kind of incident of violence can shut down negotiations. We saw that with the assassination of Mr. Rabin. What is your thoughts about that as a precondition for negotiation?
Ambassador INDYK. Well, it is a principle that the Israeli government observes more in the bridge. Because I think the prime minister is responding to two different political impulses. The first got him elected. That is, the Israeli people rejected the idea of negotiating under fire, which the previous government had done and had made far-reaching concessions under fire;and hisSharon's overwhelming victory was because the Israelis just could not abide by that kind of process.
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On the other hand, the other impulse that he is feeling is that the Israelis want a solution, they need a solution, and they understand that it can't be achieved by force alone. Although overwhelming numbers of Israelis support the use of force to respond to the terror, they also in large numbers, talking about 60 or 70 percent, support the idea of a negotiated solution. They want a political horizon.
For that reason, the Prime Minister has allowed his foreign minister to engage in negotiations with Abu Alla, one of the leaders of the Palestinians, during this period while the fighting has gone on. For that reason, the Prime Minister has proposedhe proposed a regional conference which the United States has now taken up. What is the purpose of the regional conference but to launch a negotiation?
So I think that, in effect, you are dealing with two very difficult propositions. There is a pure principle of not negotiating under fire. That is a reasonable position. There is plenty of historical precedent for that in other conflicts, that there should be a cease fire and a commitment to resolve the problem through negotiations, not through the use of violence.
Mr. SAXTON. Ambassador, thank you very much. If I may just interrupt, Mr. Hill has one final question.
Mr. HILL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Very quickly, Mr. Ambassador, does the polling data include polling of the refugees?
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Ambassador INDYK. Yes, I believe so. The polling that the Palestinians do themselves, it is very credible polling.
Mr. HILL. The final question is, should the State Department reenlist Arafat and the PLO as a terrorist organization?
Ms. EHRENFELD. Yes.
Mr. HILL. Is that part of the solution? I guess that is the broader question.
Ambassador INDYK. I think it is time to reach some moral clarity on this issue.
Mr. SAXTON. I am really sorry, but we are going to have to go vote. I want to express our deep gratitude for each of you traveling here to be with us this morning. These are indeed very difficult times, and your testimony from each of your point of views has helped us gain a little bit better understanding of that which we face.
Thank you very much.
[Whereupon, at 10:15 a.m., the panel was adjourned.]