Dore Gold is the head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs as well as Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations and author of The Fight For Jerusalem. He met with us in Tel Aviv late tonight to discuss the current push for the establishment of a Palestinian state insofar as it was based on the Saudi/Arab League “peace plan.” The Saudi/Arab League plan calls on the withdrawal of Israel from the West Bank, and Gold focused on this point in his commets.
Coincidentally, Secretary Rice arrived at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem for preparatory meetings with Prime Minister Olmert as we left Jerusalem yesterday. Ambassador Gold placed the diplomatic push in the context of the administration’s substantial Saudi arms deal and the withdrawal of the largest Sunni bloc from the Iraqi government today, a development he characterized as a defeat for American diplomacy if true.
Gold challenges the proposition that political grievances underlie the onslaught of radical Islam and therefore the assumption that a resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will contribute to America’s efforts elsewhere opposing radical Islam. Rather, he argued that radical Islam feeds on a sense of victory. He cited the formation of al Qaeda after the triumph of the mujahadin over the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. The problem, Gold said, is not understood.
Gold criticized in particular the Saudi “peace plan” calling on Israel’s return to the 1949 armistice lines as a basis for discussions. When Ariel Sharon ordered the unilateral withdrawal of Israel from Gaza in 2004, Gold recalled, Sharon secured the April 2004 letter from President Bush to Sharon with this assurance:
As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338. In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.
Gold characterized President Bush’s July 14, 2007 speech as ambiguous on this point and called on the White House to restate its 2004 commitment to defensible borders for Israel.
I asked Gold about the administration’s proposed arms sale to Saudi Arabia. He responded that the King and Crown Prince are each over 80 and the next two successors to the throne are over 70. Our travelling companion Andrew Breitbart likened the situation to that of the San Francisco Giants. What are you gonna do? asked Andrew.
Gold stated that based on Israel’s 2003 intelligence assessment, 50 to 70 percent of Hamas’s budget derives from Saudi Arabia. He noted that Saudi Arabia was a fountainhead of radical Islamism and that the primary threat to the kingdom was internal subversion. In short, he said, the sale is not a good idea.
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