Jerusalem/King David Hotel
Monday 31 March 2008
At 12:00 ? 13:45
Ahmad Qre? (Abu Ala?)
Lieutenant Hazem Atallah
Livni: Let us talk for a while about the security part of the agreement. The agreement will cover different time periods with different duties and responsibilities. There is also Roadmap which is to be implemented regardless of what we are doing now, but this is not the scope of our work in this room.
There is the question related to the nature of the future Palestinian state.
We cannot expect to have peace the next day after we sign an agreement, and thus we have legitimate reasons for our demands.
When we compare the West Bank with the Gaza Strip we see that changing realities is more difficult that preventing them from taking place.
The situation in the West Bank is under control since we are there and because we are working together. We must prevent what took place in the Gaza Strip from taking place in the West Bank. We have to have a common understanding of what needs to be done before the establishment of the Palestinian state because the West Bank is nearer to the center of Israel.
If we do not agree on something and things get out of control and we find ourselves compelled to interfere to change the situation by force ? a matter that we do not wish to happen ? the agreement will turn into pieces. There are people who await this moment to say: See, we have told you.
You said you were ready to take steps regarding the security of Israel.
Our interest is common. We must work together not in a manner that would affect freedom. We have to work together to change the situation in the Gaza Strip before the establishment of the state, and change the security situation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since you regard Gaza as part of the West Bank.
We see more the Jordan Valley and less Philadelphia Passage.
Now we have to be more stringent not in the details but in the issues and later Amos and Hazem will discuss the details.
Gilead: Like what Abu Ala? said earlier, we have to look for the future but we have to be guided by the present.
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the root of all conflicts in the region. Security is a main pillar in the agreement and its impact on the entire Middle East is stronger than its impact on our security.
The Kingdom of Jordan is the best example of security in all the world. They hardly use force, and they do not need to use force. They depend on excellent intelligence and the army is the deterring force when the police and the intelligence fail. They protect complicated borders with Syria, Iraq and shortly with Iran depending on Iran?s nuclear capabilities and because of the Shiites in Iraq.
What we need here is vigorous and strong Palestinian security forces that could be counted on if we ever reach a peace agreement. We have two examples: the Gaza Strip that you have lost, and I blame you for this, and Fateh which is a strong historical revolutionary movement that is stronger than Hamas but much less organized. If you lose force, Hamas and Hizb al-Tahrir (Freedom Party) are the only alternative. Fateh is a real revolutionary party but it is corrupt and disorganized. Some of them are my friends and I had a meeting with them that I will never forget in Cairo.
Hamas does not want to create Hamastan in the Gaza Strip but to have control over the West Bank and the PLO. This is the most important thing for them. They want to inherit Fateh.
Livni: There are two possibilities for Hamas to have control over the West Bank: by force or elections.
Gilead: Or by call [spreading the word of Allah].
Abu Ala?: There is another possibility: if Israel wants it to happen.
Gilead: I hope everybody here understands the meaning of serpents. They look beautiful but are venomous.
Livni: The third [Abu Ala?s possibility] is not a choice. Israel does not help Hamas.
Gilead: Arafat was accustomed to saying that we have created Hamas.
Abu Ala?: He is talking about the past and I am talking about the present. You have disconnected Fateh from Gaza. You are talking with Hamas about release of prisoners.
Livni: Did I declare that there is a committee to discuss the issue of prisoners?
Abu Ala?: No, but this is not the point.
Livni: We wanted to talk with Abu Mazen but he cannot release Gilead Shalit.
Abu Ala?: Egypt negotiates on behalf of Hamas.
Livni: Any arrangements must include your control over the Gaza Strip.
Abu Ala?: I agree that we have lost the Gaza Strip. Perhaps we miscalculated things. But your talk with Hamas will make them stronger. The problem lies in this behavior: Hamas has no incentive to support the PLO because in the end everybody goes to them. EU foreign ministers call on everybody to talk with Hamas. The release of 450 prisoners, some of whom are very important, will make Hamas appear as a hero before the public and that Abu Mazen gives speeches only.
Livni: The problem is that we are doing this because Abu Mazen is poor at marketing in the Gaza Strip. Otherwise we would have negotiated with him.
Israel does not want Hamas. We cannot accept to have an Islamic regime on our borders. This contradicts our strategic vision.
Gilead: My personal opinion, and I do not represent the government in this, is that sooner or later we will collide withy Hamas because they, are like Hizboolah, continue to build their military capacities. We will clash with them but we will not stay in the Gaza Strip.
Livni: The last sentence represents the position of the government.
Abu Ala?: You said that Israel is not negotiating with Hamas, but how do you see Hamas if the situation continues as it is now?
Gilead: The West Bank is coming and this is Hamas? strategic goal. We are not negotiating with them but we allow the entry of food and fuel into the Gaza Strip for humanitarian reasons. My strategic advice for you is to be ready. It is like Achilles? heel; if the situation goes on as it is for a year or two more, you will become weaker and Hamas will have control over the West Bank. They in Hamas understand the situation and they are fearful. Gaza was only an example. They understand the mood in Israel.
Livni: Three possibilities, and the third possibility is that they are a strategic threat and a message to Arab countries.
Could you have control through elections? Our position is that we will not interfere in your election system because I have first to learn more about the election system in Israel first. They are a common threat that needs to be discussed. Thus it is for our interest to include in the agreement a stipulation preventing the parties that support violence from partaking in the elections. Part of the agreement can be related to the election law for the purpose of preventing extremists and those who support violence from taking part in the elections. I am working on this with the international community.
Abu Ala?: We include in the agreement a statement saying that extremists from both parties should not take part in the elections.
Livni: The last thing we want is an Islamic terrorist state on our borders. If you do not want this to be part of the agreement we can secure it from others in a manner that conceals our interference in your internal affairs. I am sure you do not want us to reveal this.
Abu Ala?: We will leave this to experts.
Livni: The third problem is how to prevent Hamas from becoming strong not only politically but also militarily. Salam Fayyad talked about part of the problem. You have to deal with terrorism and the Gaza Strip is part of it, and you have to make sure that there will be no rise of terrorism in the West Bank. We also need to have a demilitarized state. This must be included in the agreement.
Hazem: We should agree on the principles.
Abu Ala?: We talked about security in the past. We also said to Condoleeza Rice that we are looking forward to having a security strategy for peace and not to having dictates in the name of security. We want to design and not imitate the future.
Security today is not like what it was 20 years ago and not like what it will be in the future because today we are living under occupation. In the future, Afghanistan may become more threatening than Jordan or Iran. Perhaps what I will say may not please you, but in the future when we deal with each other as one state to another, we will work in a different way to protect our security, independence and agreements.
Reality today under the occupation is different form the future. Today resistance is legitimate because we are living under occupation. Tomorrow is not like today. Thus we can design an agreement for security that takes all this into account. Such agreement will help you and us and fulfill the interests of both sides.
If you are not satisfied with our performance and capacities, we are ready to accept a third party. We can discuss the role of the third party. We are ready to listen to your suggestions for having a strong Palestinian police force. I am not saying that you should put rules for us.
I do not like the term ?demilitarized state? but I say ?with limited militarization?. This is better for both sides.
Livni: What is the diffenrece?
Abu Ala?: There is a big difference. ?Demilitarized? means no machine guns or revolvers or armored vehicles or others.
We look into the positions of both sides and means to bridge the gap between them. I think that Amos and Hazem can achieve quick progress in this matter.
We cannot accept to have security or military zones. Nor can we accept to have alert stations. We do not want to see one Israeli soldier for the first ten years after the agreement, but we welcome civilians.
Hazem: Building our security capacities will take so much time and thus we need a third party to help us.
When we talk about a demilitarized state or a state with limited militarization, the question is: What is the goal? Trust and power. If we do not trust each other we will never achieve any progress and we will not be able to enforce the sovereignty of the law, and of we do not have power, we will not be able to fight terrorism. We will reach nowhere.
Hamas arms in the Gaza Strip were better than the arms of the Palestinian security forces. You have to give us something to defend.
Livni: Trust is important and it is required. For example, I trust Siniora in Lebanon even though he does not have belligerent intention against Israel, but there is Hizbollah. We have to look to the agreement and the post agreement period and some elements in the future. We need to give Amos and Hazem some instructions.
Finding a means to fight crime and disarmament. The formula is balanced. Not the army because we do not know who will control it in the future. We do want the Palestinian state to have enemies to Israel as allies. We do not want you, for example, to have an agreement with Iran to send you arms or forces.
Livni: The principles. One criterion is what I have just said. No need to sign an agreement with a third party that has an army (hostile ally).
Hazem: Yes, but this depends on the other parts of the agreement, our capability to defend ourselves and fight terrorism.
Abu Ala?: These are details; let us talk about the principles.
Livni: Let me explain what I have said. Reaching an agreement with Iran is not part of your ideology, but it depends on knowing the other parts of the agreement: the principles, demilitarized state, and enforcement of internal law.
You proposed to have international forces. The main idea and clearly is that the state needs to be able to defend itself, and in the current regional situation the creation of a state should constitute a threat to Israel. We do not want to reoccupy a state with which we have just reached a peace agreement. Jordan is more of a sister state to you than an ally.
The whole idea of having a third party has to do with the way to fight terrorism and provide Israel with security. Since you have proposed the idea of a third party and want to have an answer now, then the answer is no.
Our army is ready to sacrifice themselves for the sake of our citizens. The international forces are not effective in fighting terrorism. I wanted to say that our army is the best army in the world, but due to the presence of Codoleeza Rice, I said the second best army in the world.
Abu Ala?: Let us talk and then we may understand the matter more.
Livni: Saeb said something that I can accept in one of the meetings. He said we call a blond blue-eyed man from the international forces, and I said who would guarantee that he would not be busy with something else when I call him.
Abu Ala?: A strong Palestinian police force to enforce the sovereignty of the law and fight terrorism.
Livni: Provided that this does not harm the interest of Israel, plus a state without an army. This is good for you because demilitarization for you means no Israeli army.
Abu Ala?: Let us discuss the international forces, their mandate, why we need them, and their deployment.
Livni: We will not remove them [international forces] from our table but put them as part of our concerns and interest: Hamas, terrorism, how to fight terrorism and prevent terrorists from attacking Israel, infiltration and arms smuggling from outside to inside the Palestinian state.
Abu Ala?: Specifically from Israel.
Livni: I do not mind. If there are criminals in Israel they must be stopped. Infiltration through international crossings with Egypt and Jordan, from air and sea. We give Amos and Hazem instructions and guidance.
Abu Ala?: Good. And they know how to work better than us.
Gilead: We can start with a general discussion.
Livni: The question is in the general terms. I have proposed the main concerns. Or do I have to do this?
The electromagnetic field.
Early alert stations.
Udi: Air control.
Abu Ala?: You do not need these. Anyway, you can discuss whatever you like.
Livni: I have not presented a comprehensive list. There are things we proposed in the past. The real question is: Do you think that control of the Gaza Strip crossings will help you or help Hamas?
Abu Ala?: What do you think, Amos?
Gilead: There is no chance for controlling the crossings. The presidential guard will be in the front and Hamas will control everything. Either you kill the members of the presidential guard or they will join Hamas. It gives legitimacy to Hamas. There are some Palestinian officials who support the idea of having presidential guard.
Hazem: They did not look into the details.
Livni: Regarding Gaza, what will strengthen you and weaken Hamas?
Abu Ala?: Your talk with them will strengthen them. Do you want to have Palestinian presence at the crossings with Israel.
Gilead: The other crossings are open even in the worst conditions for humanitarian reasons through the UNRWA and others.
Livni: The only item that I will support in any agreement about the refugees is the UNRWA.
Gilead: Salam Fayad demands that the presidential guard be assigned the responsibility of managing the crossings.
Hazem: The crossings will be controlled by Hamas before the presidential guard is allowed to go to Rafah.
Abu Ala?: Al-Zahhar will accept them. He wants people to work with him.
Livni: Security is not an ideology or a narrative. It is serious people who are ready for serious work.