Copyright 2004 Federal News Service, Inc.
Federal News Service
February 10, 2004 Tuesday
SECTION: CAPITOL HILL HEARING
LENGTH: 10994 words
HEADLINE: BRIEFING OF THE MIDDLE EAST AND CENTRAL ASIA SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS COMMITTEE
SUBJECT: ISRAEL'S SECURITY FENCE
CHAIRED BY: ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R-FL)
LOCATION: 2200 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C.
WITNESSES: DENNIS ROSS, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY; DAVID MAKOVSKY, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY;
(NOTE: Due to audio difficulties on site, this transcript will contain numerous audio breaks and inaudible sections.)
REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R-FL): (Event fed in progress) -- political implications in the overall Arab-Israeli dispute and the impact that this case has before the International Court of Justice. When we come -- oh, thank you, Congresswoman Shelley Berkley from Las Vegas, Nevada, thank you so much for being with us. When we come back -- next week we have a district work period -- and when we come back, we will have the second part of this -- of this conflict, and we will be hearing from other guests who will -- may have different points of views than ones that are -- (inaudible) -- dissimilar to the ones who are going to be speaking today, we will make sure that we have another set of panelists when we come back.
But Gary and I want to thank Ambassador Ross and David for coming with us today. After the Ambassador speaks, we will hear from David, who will present a Power Point presentation, and we will be glad to get -- take questions from the members and you the audience as well.
Gary, I would like to have you make some opening -- (inaudible) --
REP. GARY ACKERMAN (D-NY): I just want to welcome everybody, and thank you, Madam Chair, for providing us yet again with an interesting format and forum for a very critical issue of our day, and to associate myself with your remarks. The fact that the Egyptian judge has an opinion as to who is right and who is wrong before the trial begins I think is only a testament to the efficiency of the court system in Egypt. At any rate, we will find out from both this -- this meeting today, listening to our two very, very knowledgeable and internationally renowned experts as to whether or not in their view good fences make good neighbors or create some other problem. And I know that the chair is also planning on having a similar -- (inaudible) -- people of different opinions than the opinion that we may possibly hear today. So, with that, we look forward to hearing from our two invited guests.
Congresswoman Berkley from Las Vegas, Nevada, was delayed because of the -- (inaudible) -- (laughter) -- so there is a down side to all of this -- (inaudible) --
REP. SHELLEY BERKLEY (D-NV): (Inaudible.) Hi everybody. I'm really delighted to see such a large number of people here, and very delighted to welcome our guests and thank our chairman and co-chairman for hosting this. I have to give a speech at 3:00 this afternoon to a Jewish group, and I couldn't imagine a better briefing than coming here at 11:00 and hearing exactly what our experts' opinions are so I can share these opinions with others. So, I am very grateful for the opportunity to listen to the experts, hear what they have to say, synthesize the information, and then be able to share it with others.
And I think one of the incredible things about being a member of Congress is that you have at your fingertips the opportunity to hear from people that have immersed their entire lives in this process and have a very good understanding of the issues, and are willing to share their expertise and knowledge with all of us.
So, having said that, let me welcome you again, and let's get started so we can all learn a little more than we already know.
MR. : Let me -- let me -- let me just ask Dr. King and whoever else would like, we have some chairs over here so everybody doesn't have to stand. We need some volunteers to hand those chairs down. The gentlemen (?) are allowed to sit, too -- (inaudible) -- one, two, three, two more, three more. I'll take it. Okay.
I believe first we're going to hear from Ambassador Dennis -- (inaudible) -- can't pronounce his last name either, so -- (laughter). We're very happy to have you here to share with us of your wealth of experiences, Ambassador, and greatly appreciate your taking time from your busy day to be with us, and the microphone is yours. (Applause.)B. DENNIS ROSS: Thank you. I'm very happy to be here to discuss an issue that I think has been one that's shrouded in a lot of mythology. And one of the things we're going to try to do today is put it in some perspective. Now, I propose to do that by starting with some explanation about why we are even talking about this. It's the third (?) way of dealing between Israelis and Palestinians should be agreement (?). And I've devoted a major part of my life trying to produce precisely that. Even now, I think it is possible to get some kind of limited understanding, not a concluding agreement, not a final peace agreement, because that ignores the last three years. The last three years have an effect. It is a legacy. It isn't just the loss off confidence, there's a loss of belief and of faith on each side -- (inaudible) -- the idea that you could go from a position where neither side has any faith or belief in the other to one where you're going to conclude this conflict once and for all is an illusion. That doesn't mean that limited agreements might not be possible. Even those are, I think, less likely at this -- (inaudible) --
would say even up until a few weeks ago was one between the Israelis and Palestinians that would have been shaped (?) in the following way. Palestinians would have accepted a comprehensive ceasefire, meaning no attacks against Israelis -- not within the Green Line, not outside the Green Line. If there is any attacks against Israelis any place, it means the IDF is going to carry out targeting killings against those who plan the attacks. I means the IDF is going to continue to carry out arrest (?) raids (?) against those who conduct the attacks. So, if you want, in fact, to create a comprehensive ceasefire where both sides are observing real limits, then no attacks against Israelis any place. That, I think, was something that was possible. At least I thought it was possible.
I also know from talking to the Palestinians that least for a while they were committed to taking steps that would have enforced just such a ceasefire. What kinds of steps? Well, anybody who violates the ceasefire is arrested. You close down the smuggling tunnels, the Sinai into Gaza, basically produce all sorts of explosives and arms as well as a variety of other things. You shut down the bomb-making lab, close down the Kazan (?) workshop -- (inaudible) -- accurate. These kinds of were steps that could have at least enforced the ceasefire and given it some greater likelihood of enduring.
In return for that, the Palestinians would have asked of the Israelis that they lift all the checkpoints and they lift the siege (?). They freeze settlement activity and that they also freeze work on the fence.
Congresswoman, as you said, one thing about the fence -- there wasn't a fence before -- it's terror that produces a fence. So, if there's no terror, then you could justify freezing work on the fence.
This kind of a basis existed, at least for discussion, on both sides.
But what I've seen over the last few weeks is that increasingly on the Palestinian side, they're not able to deliver. Yasser Arafat is basically blocking any effort to produce this kind of an understanding.
Now, if in fact you can't reach that kind of a limited deal, which would be the preferable way to go, then you have to look at the reality we're in. We're in a situation where the Palestinians at this point are not able, or willing, to assume security responsibility. If the Palestinians cannot assume their security responsibilities, it leaves the Israelis two choices. One choice is to maintain the siege. And the siege means anywhere from 140 to 160 checkpoints on the West Bank alone. What does it mean to the Israelis to have that many checkpoints? If you're a Palestinian -- if you're a Palestinian and you want to get to a hospital, you better hope it's not an emergency. If you're a Palestinian and you want to get your kids to school, you better plan for a couple of hours in the morning and a couple of hours later on. If you're a Palestinian and you want to conduct normal commerce, you can forget it. The cost goes up. The time goes up. The unpredictability and uncertainty of being able to move people or goods is overwhelming.
Now, is this something that the Israelis wanted to do? No. The siege exists today because of terror. The Israeli is if we lift the siege, we have dead Israelis. Today, the siege is basically 90 to 95 percent effective in terms of stopping attacks.
Well, what are the problems from the Israeli standpoint? I just outlined the problems from the Palestinian standpoint, but what are the problems from the Israeli standpoint?
Well, one of the things the siege guarantees is the hostility that produces terror -- (inaudible) -- away. Israelis, as they did over the weekend, can kill leading members of Hamas Islamic Jihad. When you have a siege that controls all aspects of Palestinian life, what it's going to guarantee is continuing anger -- (inaudible) -- and alienation. You can kill the Hamas operatives, but the pool (?) of people who are attracted and become the next wave of terrorists are constantly being replenished, precisely because so long as Palestinian life is controlled in every aspect, you're going to continue to see a readiness to find new recruits.
So, from the Israeli standpoint, the siege may provide security today, but it guarantees that Israel will still be in a position a year from now, or two years from now, basically they're still having to contend with a pool of terrorists that doesn't shrink. You're not going to get security in the long haul from this. Maybe you get it on a day-to-day basis, not perfectly, but maybe you get it on a day-to- day basis, but not for the long haul.
Number one, from the security standpoint, ultimately it is not in Israel's interest. Talk to anybody within the Israeli Defense Force and they'll tell you this is not the way they want to have to be organizing the Israeli military for this mission, for this purpose. The logic of creating a security situation, a defense situation where you don't have large numbers of soldiers who have to protect small numbers of settlers is also a logic that argues against maintaining the siege.
And there's one other important factor that affects the Israeli interests. You maintain the siege, the one thing that's guaranteed, that the demographics will ensure there will be one state over time, not two states. David actually will show a graph and actually a number of statistics that demonstrate what are the trends demographically. Interestingly enough, one of the figures he cites is by the year 2010, according to his figures, there will still be a very modest Jewish majority. I can tell you there are other studies that suggest that by the year 2010 there will not be even a modest Jewish majority between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. And what that means is if you're going to have a Jewish majority within Israel, if you're going to preserve the character of Israel, and you -- (inaudible) -- the territory -- (inaudible) -- argument of the past. You're going to have a partition. The siege prevents a partition. So, the siege isn't good for the Palestinians, and the siege isn't good for the Israelis, but as I said, there's only two choices. If the Palestinians will not assume their security responsibilities, the Israeli choices are a siege or a security fence, a partial withdrawal, a new security line.
Now, the critical question with regard to this is how do you make that line, how do you make that barrier, how do you use that, or build it, or shape it in a way that ensures you preserve a road to peace? Understand, there's no such thing as a unilateral outcome. There's no such thing as a unilateral solution. The Israelis can't impose an outcome on the Palestinians, and the Palestinians cannot impose an outcome on the Israelis. Anything that is unilateral, by definition, is not going to be a solution.
The question is, how do you create a way station? How do you move from where we are, which is a disaster for both sides, to something that preserves the possibility of peace, that creates a very different climate, that ensures that both sides can breathe again, that both sides have the kind of freedom that neither has today? The Israelis don't have a freedom from fear, and the Palestinians don't have a freedom from the Israelis. So, if your choices are at this point are the siege, which can't produce that kind of freedom, or this kind of a fence, the question is how to develop the fence in the right way.
What are the criteria that have to go into shaping the approach to the fence? There are several. The first is security. You build a fence on a line, in an area, on terrain that makes it difficult to infiltrate into Israel. That's the point, security. Second, there have to be humanitarian concerns. You're going to affect the lives of at least some Palestinians. David will go through and David will outline the routes of the fence, the different possibilities. Even with the routes that he's talking about, there's going to be an affect on some Palestinians. So, the question is how to build that in a way, how to deal with that need in a way that imposes the least hardship on Palestinians. Partly because there's a humanitarian reason. Partly because it's just good sense. Partly because you're trying to create a climate that makes peace more likely, not less likely.
Also build this fence with the political criterion in mind. You build it also with a demographic criterion in mind. If the demographics that I described are what they are, you want to build the fence in a way that ensures that you absorb the least number of Palestinians.
The point here is to promote Israel as a Jewish state, and that means don't build this fence in a way or on areas or on terrain that means you're incorporating Palestinians into Israel, even on a transitional basis, even if it's not permanent.
Lastly, when it comes to the political or policy criterion, there are at least two considerations to bear in mind: One is, if you're going to change the climate fundamentally, is the Israelis have to get out of Palestinian lives. Just as the Palestinians can't have it both ways -- they can't say, We don't have to assume our security responsibilities, but you can't have the fence. You can't have the siege and you can't have the fence, but we don't have to do anything. They can't have it both ways.
The Israelis can't have it both ways either. Israelis can't build the fence and maintain the siege. And that has implications for what happens on the other side of the fence after it's built. Israelis WILL have to evacuate settlements, and they have to put themselves in a position where, if they're creating a situation where they're truly getting out of Palestinian lives, then that means, in fact, you evacuate not only certain settlements, but you also evacuate the roads that lead to them so that you DON'T maintain checkpoints. The fence and checkpoints are a contradiction. The fence is supposed to be an alternative to the checkpoints, so in fact Israelis are out of Palestinian lives. If the Israelis are out of Palestinian lives, if the Israelis can breathe again, if the Palestinians can breathe again, then you have a different context, you have a different climate, you have a different possibility.
Now, one other factor here is, this new line shouldn't be a border, because eventually a border has to be agreed. But there should also be an understanding; if the Palestinians assume their security responsibilities after the Israelis have withdrawn, this line, this fence, this barrier can be temporary. It can be there one year, it can be there two years, it can be there fifty years -- that's a Palestinian choice.
Now what is it that the administration could be doing now? It could be approaching this from the standpoint of a strategy -- a strategic approach, not a tactic. It should be focussed on coordinating with the Israelis on the criteria that I mentioned -- security, demographics, humanitarian, policy -- to ensure that it's following the lines that make sense. With the Palestinians --we should be working with the Palestinians and making it clear to them; You have security responsibilities.
The areas from which the Israelis withdraw from can in fact become sovereign, but not if you're not assuming your security responsibilities. These areas can be in fact a source or an area where enormous amounts of assistance and investment can go into, presuming you are assuming your responsibilities.
Now, some may say, They're not able to assume today, why will they be able to assume them at that point? Won't the fragmentation that exists still be there? Won't Arafat still be an impediment to it? Well, bear in mind, there is a reform movement on the Palestinian side that has done much better when the climate is better. In the current climate, it's very difficult for it to emerge. In a climate where there's a clear sense of opportunity, where the Palestinians have an opportunity to do something, there will be precious room within to take advantage from that. So there's at least a potential there.
We, the United States, should also be working with the Europeans to say, if the choices today are basically a siege, which is a disaster for both sides, or a situation where the Israelis are withdrawing -- actually evacuating settlements -- and getting out of Palestinian lives, that's materially and substantially better than what we have today. So let's make it work. And let's also make it clear -- especially for the Palestinians -- this is a time to assume responsibilities, not to avoid them.
This is not necessarily the option I would be choosing, but diplomacy isn't made in the abstract. Diplomacy has to take account of what the realities are. Today the reality that we face is the most likely way ahead is through some kind of Israeli withdrawal. It may start, as Prime Minister Sharon has now indicated, with a withdrawal from Gaza first. In the past I had Palestinians say to me, let the Israelis get out of Gaza so we can show we can assume our responsibilities, we can build good governance. The challenge for us, now, is to take what may not have been the preferred option, and act now. Don't wait until the Israelis withdraw. At that point you're going to find we end up with the worst of all worlds. The time to shape the climate is now. The time to anticipate what needs to be done is now -- the time to do this in a way that makes sense for the future is now, it's not later. I will let David begin to outline what this would actually look like.
MS. ROS-LEHTINEN: David, as I had said, is the senior fellow and director of the project on the Middle East peace process at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He has written this article, "How to Build a Fence," and the last paragraph of which I will read -- it's just a few sentences -- it says, "Whether done unilaterally or by negotiation, only partition can guarantee the democratic and Jewish character of Israel. Israelis and Palestinians will eventually have to sit down together to solve their problems. Since such negotiations are unlikely for the time being, however, a properly constructed fence can serve as an interim measure, given the traumas both of these people have endured, especially over the last three years, keeping Israelis and Palestinians apart now is the only way to bring them together in the future." David, thank you.
MR. MAKOVSKY: Thank you all very much for being here. Dennis really, very eloquently, laid forth the rationale so I don't really have to repeat a lot of that, but the idea here is basically how to create a sense that facilitates a two-state solution and does not preclude it. How does this provide security and minimize hardship? And we all want an outcome that gives dignity to both sides, and the question is now how to get there.
I want to begin here by talking about, really, the idea of partition and why it is an imperative. Dennis touched on the demographics trends, and I think if you look at this slide, you'll see when I talk about Jewish and Arab, it's Israeli and the Palestinians and the West Bank in Gaza. The Jewish majority in Israel remains 80 percent, but if you put it all together and say, "What if it's a de facto binational state, what does the trends line look at?" And what I think is most remarkable is this one in the year 2000, because Israel added a million people in the '90s from the former Soviet Union -- in the next slide, and you will see them in percentage terms that the actual ratios have really dropped, even though you would think with a massive influx of a million people from the former Soviet Union that the ratios of a Jewish majority would rise. And actually it went down in the '90s -- down to 55 percent. In 2010, it's 51.1, it's clear that very shortly after that Jews would be a minority in the Israel/ West Bank/Gaza taken together -- again, not in terms of the pre-'67 boundaries but in terms of the overall area. And I think that -- if the idea of partition is critical for the Palestinian population to get Israel "out of its hair," so to speak, in the West Bank and Gaza, I would argue, as Dennis has, that it's no less of an imperative for the Israelis who want to preserve a Jewish demographic majority and remain a democratic state.
So that why these demographic trends have -- you've seen even people like Ehud Olmert, who was Sharon's deputy, saying, you know, waking up and saying, "Wow, look at these trends, Israel needs partition." The question is, how do you reconcile, on the one hand, the need for partition that seems urgent -- on the other hand, the utter lack of partnership along the lines that Dennis, I think, touched on.
Now let's go -- and let me explain to you what I tried to do with this study, this piece in Foreign Affairs, which is an abstract of a broader study, and here I want to thank my research assistant, Anna, who is sitting here, for all her help. We basically went through the population figures of 685 Palestinian villages and towns in the West Bank. It's a West Bank study, it's not a study about Gaza or about Jerusalem. You can ask whatever you like, but the focus of my work was to try to understand, where does demography meet geography in the West Bank? Where do these people live? And how do I get reliable data to make sure that my numbers are right? But let me just explain to you what I did.
On the Israeli side, I took the numbers from the Israeli Minister of Interior. Every Israeli has to register an address and my numbers are as of July 1, 2003, and that's 128 settlements. So to go through 128 settlements, how many people live in every single one of these places? Then the Palestinian side, there are 638 villages, sub- villages, towns, cities. Where do they live? There was a Palestinian Authority census in the late '90s, the only one that we are aware of. We used the typical formula, I think, of a 3.3-percent per annum increase, and we were very pleased that our overall figure I think was about the same as the CIA fact book, which is on the Internet. So either we're both wrong or, you know, I don't know, but we used Palestinian Authority figures with this mathematical formula to make sure that we are as up to date on one side as the other side, and that one side we're not lagging behind somehow.
That was the idea -- where do these people live, what are we talking about, let's get beyond slogans. So let's tell you, first, where the Israelis are. Altogether, you've got 231,000 settlers in 144 settlements, according to the Minister of the Interior. Of that amount, a very small amount of them are in Gaza -- the 7,600 people that you see here. Most of them, which is where the focus of my work is the 223,000 live in the West Bank in 128 places. I'll show you about the names of some of the five biggest places. There are five settlements where 43 percent of the settlers live. You may have heard of these places -- Ariel, Modeyeen Elite (ph) -- this is what we call the "Green Line." The Green Line is the pre-1967 boundary. Here is Tel Aviv, you can see right here. That's the heartland here, where most Israelis live. I mean -- this area here is, like, the width of Israel at its height is equal to the length of Manhattan, just to give you a sense. Here is Jerusalem, here is -- you see here Betar Elite (ph), which is (young ?). Seventeen thousand people in Ariel, almost 23,000 in Modeyeen Elite (ph), Polyademeen (ph) -- 28,000 people, which is right east of Jerusalem, Betar Elite (ph) -- 21,000, and Ephrat (sp) in the Gush Etzion area -- 7,000.
Kind of a sidelight, I would add if you want to say where's about half of the growth in the year 2002 of settlements, it's from a group that hasn't been written about in the newspapers. It's the ultra- orthodox Jews who have one of the highest birth rates -- more than the Palestinians, I should add -- and four of these five places are very adjacent to the green line. Ariel is a little further in, but 43 percent of all the West Bank settlers live in these five places. Okay.
Now, where do the Palestinians live? We've got, according to -- and I'm using PA census. And we have 1.3 million in Gaza, we've got 2.2 million in the West Bank, and some of these towns will be familiar to you -- Jenin, up here; Tulkarm, right here; Nablus, right here, 121,000; Qalquilya, 38,000; Ramallah, home of Yassir Arafat, 21,000; Jericho, sometimes called "Sleepy Jericho," almost 18,000; Bethlehem, 26,000; Hebron, 144,000. So this gives you a little sense of the kind of population dispersion in main centers.
Now we come to the next slide, which is the one that will depress you the most -- I call it "the soup." And this is the overlay of both of these people, okay? So before I showed you settlements, right there, and now settlements and the Palestinian areas.
I know almost every single one of you are looking at those and thinking to yourself, "My God, they will never have peace over there. It is impossible. It will go on for another 1,000 years." So this is the soup slide, and we will come back to this slide at the end, as my last slide, I promise you.
Now, with, you know, those of you who know baseball know they talk about Yankee Stadium as the "house that Ruth built," referring to Babe Ruth. I think this fence is the fence that Hamas built. I mean, there was no fence before all these suicide bombings, infiltrations. When the Israeli cities were just wide open, and there was really more people on the right side of the Israeli spectrum that were against fences, because they knew a fence meant you were creating a Palestinian state on this other side. So a fence was never built. It was the liberals more in Israel, they were always the ones who pushed the fence idea because they saw it as a fence that would make it safe for Israel to leave and not a fence that would make it safe for Israel to stay.
So the fence really emerged as a result of the suicide attacks. There were no suicides -- I mean -- there was no fence before three years of an intifada. I wanted to check with the Israeli figures and say, "Okay, how many infiltrations have there been?" So 58 suicide bombings have occurred -- this is up to November 3, 2003; 58 have occurred. There have been 95 others where only the bomber has blown himself up and has not blown up his victims or her victims; and you have 127 thwarted attacks. But taken together, there have been 280 attempted infiltrations. You think if you had one suicide attack in Washington, D.C., imagine if you had 53 in this broader, very narrow area, in the whole West Bank and Gaza and Israel, you put it all together, it's less than half of Lake Michigan, to put this in American terms -- Israel, West Bank, and Gaza. You've got a very small area. Isaiah Berlin (sp) said that there's just too much history and too little geography, and that's the situation. So it's very tiny. The whole area from the Mediterranean to the Jordan is 50 miles. So you have 280 attempts. This is what has borne the suicide bombs. This doesn't even include, by the way, of just the bomb, you know, killed a bunch of people in Jerusalem.
I want to make clear, that people of all sides here suffered, and I'm not -- by focusing on the fence, I'm not here to say that there haven't been Palestinians who have also died and that is also -- innocent people on all sides die is a tragedy. If you understand the logic of the fence, we're focusing on the infiltration, from the West Bank to Gaza -- the West Bank into Israel -- the Green Line.
Okay, now, where the attacks have been? Because it's not just about numbers, it's about proximity. Again, all this makes no sense unless you understand that, you know, from, you know, from West Bank to Afula, nine-and-a-half miles; to Hadera, eight-and-a-half miles; Netanya to Tulkarm, seven miles; Bethlehem to Jerusalem, two miles; Hebron to Jerusalem, 12 miles. And you've had -- when you go through the numbers, you don't see this on a daily thing reading newspapers, because you can hear about an attack, but, you know, after poring over the data and seeing, okay, it's interesting where they hit, I want to know the origin of the bomber. Then you see it -- then it all comes together. Then you realize that these attacks from Netanya come from Tulkarm, and you realize that seven of the eight attacks on Bethlehem are at Jerusalem. Actually, now, it's eight of nine, there was one last week, and on and on. So the proximity is central or else none of this makes a lot of sense.
Now, what has been done until now? Until now is what we call Stage A, and I don't want to get into these semantic discussions. I think we're way past this. You know, people say, "How are they going to solve this problem? They can't even decide on what to call it. Is it a fence or a wall?" Well, if you want to know where there's a wall, here is the wall. These -- this area here, Qualqilya and this area in Tulkarm, where it's red. And right here near the Jerusalem -- outside Jerusalem, which we will discuss. That is the wall. So that right now is a fence. The reason why it's the wall east of here is because there was sniper fire from an Israeli highway below killing, I know, at least one child, but others, I think, as well. But it's mostly a fence. I don't know if I'm going to get into that whole thing.
So this is where -- this is a sense of what has been done now. Now let's go to the next one, and say that if you happen to be a Palestinian who is living in that area west of the fence, you know, there is hardship. And even if you don't live west, you live adjacent, and you have to go your farm or something like that, villagers reaching farmland, doctors and patients, teachers and students reaching schools are very happy to hear the Israeli government coming out this week with a 2-billion shekel or $500 million program on the hardship. I happened to speak to the mayor of Qualqilya, and I saw the wall on the Palestinian side, and I asked him, I said, "If there was a compensation program to offset some of these hardships, would you be for it?" He said absolutely. And I think we need to think creatively for that minority of people who live west of the fence, and we'll get to that in a second -- how to create these jobs.
For long stretches of the 1990s, there were very brief exceptions -- there were exceptions -- but for long periods of the 1990s, because of the bombs going off in the '90s, Yitzhak Rabin brought in foreign workers from Romania, Thailand and the like. And most of those Palestinian jobs were lost in the '90s, way before the fence. And even before the fence was set up during the intifada, there were closures and checkposts and all sorts of things. But I think, even so, there needs to be some out-of-the-box thinking on how to create jobs, how to minimize hardship.
So this is what Israel is doing, the ministry of defense fence. And this is what's going up. And what we try to do is to find out, "Okay, what are we talking about? Who lives on what side of this fence?" So this area is 14 and a half percent. I may add, Israel let's say is built up to here around now. They've got a long ways down to go. But this figure, 14 and a half percent, is also a number that is agreed upon by the United Nations, which has not always been overly sympathetic to Israel.
So there -- now, here's the key. This is the key. Seventy-six percent of the settlers, of the West Bank settlers -- that's 170,000 people -- live here, adjacent to the 1967 boundaries. And so, in that area, you've got a lot of the settlers right there.
On the Palestinian side -- and we will also show you a couple of enclaves very much after that -- you've got 85.5 percent of the West Bank to the east of the fence, an area that, as Dennis pointed out, could be a contiguous Palestinian state, with a few of the settlers living there, but they are a minority. The majority live here. And you've got as high as 99 but I would say, worst-case scenario -- I'm talking about West Bank now -- 94 percent in the worst case live east of the fence.
So you have got the beginnings here, without partnership, it seems to me. Obviously, as Dennis pointed out, if you had partnership, you wouldn't need a fence. But you don't. So how do you get, you know -- how do you do both?. How do you improve security and facilitate a two-state solution so Israel can leave most of the West Bank -- I think, in the current situation, amid the utter lack of trust, this is the only way.
So you have -- you've got about 1.9 million Palestinians here and you've got 170,000 Israelis there. Now, you've got Palestinians who are west of the fence, and we will discuss the enclave issue now.
You've got -- outside of these enclaves, you've got 10,000 people. These areas to me were the most critical in understanding, because here there is a sizable Palestinian population. And I spoke to Israeli officials, they made some announcements this week that they are adjusting the fence. And it seems to me that the net effect is that they are creating underpasses and the like to ensure that there's 24-hour access.
They haven't gotten to this part, because the fence part is only up to here for now. But this is coming up. And this has been, I think, a key issue with the administration. "Can you ensure that these people have easy access?" Because once you add them, that's 98,000 people. And that really creates hardship and the like.
So this is the matter that Israel seems to be wanting to address this issue by talking about the underpasses and the like and try to ensure that those people in these enclaves have access to the east.
Okay, now let's go to the next slide. This is the fence that Israel has not built -- and those can say, "So far." But this is the fence that was brought to Condoleezza Rice by the PLO representative Sofni Houri (ph), saying that this is Sharon's real intention -- I think National Geographic even reproduced their map -- and said, "They're going to build an eastern fence and they're going to so fragment this area that it will be Bantustan.
" And I think it would be.
And I think this is the fence that should not be built. It doesn't add security for Israelis. It makes a fence that makes it safe for Israel to stay. And it -- I don't think precludes; it certainly impedes greatly the idea of a two-state solution.
The eastern fence is a disaster, and I was pleased to hear from the Israeli officials, from the top of their defense establishment on down, that they will not build this. And hopefully the prime minister will say so publicly. And that would give us a much more rational debate, because so long as people think in National Geographic or elsewhere that this is what Sharon is doing, then of course, it looks terrible. This is Israel retaining 47 percent of the West Bank, Palestinians 53 percent of the West Bank.
You would have here about 86 percent of the Palestinians inside the fence. However, you would have 271,000 Palestinians outside. So, A, there's a contiguity issue, and B, it's utterly fragmented. And the settlers like the fence because it hardly touches them. Four thousand settlers are only in this little area, and 219,000 are out of it.
But this is the fence that so far Israel is not building. And this is why the debate on this topic is so divergent, because as long as you think this is what Sharon is going to build, then of course you're going to have different sort of reactions. But, as I said, an eastern fence changes the character of the fence. But right now it's not being built. I call it the encirclement fence, because it would encircle the Palestinians from all sides.
Now, this is Clinton. Clinton wasn't a fence. It was the parameters of a treaty. But what's striking here to me -- and it is convenient to have Dennis Ross in the next office, who authored the Clinton parameters, to say, "Okay, you're telling me the end point of negotiations of Clinton" -- just to kind of revive your memory, to refresh your memory, December 23rd, I think it was, 2000, just days before the Clinton administration ended, there was an idea to have a U.S. proposal that would go beyond Camp David, which was in the summer of 2000.
So this took account of what was heard at Camp David and sought to fashion an American proposal. Clinton said the idea would leave with him, was not an official American policy. But it's an interesting benchmark. He never actually drew a map. He just laid forth the requirements -- 5 percent of the West Bank, Israeli. He helped to get in 80 percent of the settlers. I get it -- you know, when you go settlement by settlement of 128 settlements, I see you get in 74 percent of the settlers, not 80, but in 5 percent of the land. And the optimum you get is 74 percent of the settlers, it looks like this and I went to Dennis and he said, "Well, that's what we went in with."
And then this is supposed to be the ceiling -- the roof, if you want -- of the final outcome. So what you would have, I think, with the fence is 85 percent of the West Bank before negotiations even begin for a two-state solution. And here's the end of the road, not the beginning of the road, Clinton, 95 percent.
So I think the fence is Clinton minus if it deals with something that Clinton also dealt with in the treaty, which was taking down the settlements to the east. Then it won't be called a fence; it will be called a border. But it's a very similar word -- trying to develop the splash technology that you can see them one on top of each other, but there's a 10 percent difference, and the numbers are, you know, I think they're very -- you know, 74 percent of the settlers, in the 5 percent -- that's 45 settlements in there. The majority of the settlers live in a minority of the settlements, and a minority of the settlers live in a majority of the settlements. That's kind of something you could keep in mind. That's 164,000 people under the Clinton approach. The fence will get 170 (thousand). So it's like 6,000 or so difference.
The number of Palestinians that would be west of the fence -- only 0.4 percent. Number of Palestinians villages west of the fence 5, number of Palestinians west of the border is 7,000. Percentage of settlers east of the border is 26. You have many more settlements there, about 50,000 people that you'd have to deal with. But you'd have, what, 59,000 under the fence you have to deal with. So it's a difference of where you're dealing with 230,000 people or dealing with 223,000 dealing with 50 or 60,000.
So just to refresh, and not to bore you -- there is no quiz at the end of this, but the encirclement fence, which is not being built, 53 percent of the area -- this is the PLO's website basically, where they would have 86 percent of the Palestinians of the West Bank there. Ministry of Defense fence, which is being built, you'd have 85 percent east of the fence -- that is a potential Palestinian state; and 99.4 percent east of the fence, assuming they clear up those enclaves, which the Israelis have committed to doing -- worst case 94 percent. The Clinton parameters: 95 percent east of the border, and 99.6 percent east of the borders in terms of Palestinians.
So that just gives you a summary. And you'll see -- I mean, the bottom line here is that the fence, which is the starting point, is not far off from Clinton, which is an end point. And here we just did a little thing in terms of, well, what about the people left on the other side -- who's left? So under the encirclement idea, which isn't happening, but just to give you a sense, you have 266,000 Palestinians that would be more disadvantaged than the Israelis. Under the MOD, you'd have 42,000 Israelis or 43,000 that are on the wrong side of the fence. Under the Clinton thing, you'd have 52,000. Again, at the end of the road or the beginning of the road. So I think they're much more similar in terms of what I call the demographic pain quotient -- in other words, Who's left on the wrong side?
All right, now let's go back to the final slide -- the soup. I promised I would get back to the soup. This is where the fence is, and now let me be clear: What the fence isn't happening now is what Ehud Olmert, you know, Sharon's deputy, says, well, if there is a fence there's no need for all the settlements east of the fence. That's so far not Ariel Sharon's position. I want to be clear about that, not misinterpreted. But I think the logic of it, as Dennis said so eloquently, is clear, which is if you have a fence and you want to get out of Palestinian lives, then you don't need the settlements east of the fence. So here's what it would like without the soup minus that minority of the settlers who live east of the fence.
Now, some of you who travel a lot to the region, might ask me, Give me names, David. Tell me names of settlements that would under the fence or on the wrong side, so to speak. I'll list them: Ofra, I think about 4,000 people; Beit El about 5,000 is it? We have the -- we bought the database of every single settlement, so if you want the exact number, we'll bring to you. And Kiryat Arba down here. Those three areas -- those are the three biggest concentration of settlement areas of those 50,- or 60,000 that are east of the fence. And I believe that the logic of the fence is that the eastern settlements then really there's no basis for it, and that this is therefore a fence that makes it safe for Israelis to leave much of the West Bank in the case where partnership doesn't work. And I just hope we can come here in better days and say there will be a time when partnership will work -- won't need fences, won't need barriers, and we could bring everyone together. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
REP. ROS-LEHTINEN: Thanks to David and to Dennis for excellent presentation. Greg wrote eight excellent questions for me, which I will ignore -- (laughter) -- because I want to give Gary and Shelley an opportunity to ask the questions, and I'd like to throw it open to all of you with the limited time that our guests have. But I'd like for you to be able to participate. Gary?
Q I'd like to ask -- (off mike) -- people both on the Israeli side and the Palestinian side -- (inaudible) -- anticipated on top of that that the Israelis -- (inaudible) -- Palestinian side of the fence -- (off mike).
MR. ROSS: Excellent question.
Q (Off mike)?
MR. ROSS: Wait for the answer. None of this is going to happen instantaneously. I can tell you when we thought about this, when we actually had a peace process, and we thought about what was going to happen, initially I will tell you the Israeli attitude when we were still at Camp David was to see if you could actually have Israelis remain in settlements in the -- or in areas in what would be the Palestinian state, but under Palestinian sovereignty, and the Palestinians vice versa. Now, the Israeli position changed over time, because they came to believe that just wasn't feasible.
The idea that you'd be able to maintain that presence but they wouldn't be sovereign or there wouldn't be some kind of a connection in the end wasn't feasible.
So the logic was that you'd have to bring them back. What you are getting at is the essence of the demographic problem. How do you try to promote the homogeneity of each area, at least in terms of demographics? There's no doubt that keeping settlements out there that are under exclusive Israeli control and require Israeli security is not going to be sustainable for the long haul. The question here is how long do you take. I do think if you were -- if there was a stated Israeli policy that reflected, for example, what Ehud Olmert has said, basically we should withdraw -- we, Israel, should withdraw from what amounts to about 80 percent of the territory. That would involve having to evacuate those settlements. And it will be difficult for some for sure.
We have to understand the settler movement in Israel is made up of lots of different kinds of people with lots of different kinds of motivations. Most Israelis who move into what would be called the bedroom communities adjacent to the Green Line will not be largely affected. They went there for quality-of-life reasons. Those who moved into different parts of it went for much more ideological reasons. This is part of God's patrimony. So the idea they would give this up is emotionally and psychologically extraordinarily difficult. And it will confront the Israeli government, any Israeli government, with what is going to be a real trauma. But it means you're going to have to face that.
Now, what does one do with the Palestinians who remain within this area? You know, the fact is I don't think we have thought in terms of forcibly moving them out of this area. And I think the reason is the following: Bear in mind that when we talk about the issue of this fence, the security fence, we're not talking about it being the permanent border. What I said was it can be there -- if you have a Palestinian partner who is prepared to not only to negotiate -- the issue is not, Are they prepared to negotiate? The issue is: Are they prepared to assume responsibility? The hardest thing we've seen in the last three years has been the absence of the readiness to assume responsibility. And when you had for a short period of time a Palestinian prime minister who began to speak the language of responsibility, he couldn't deliver on it, and eventually he resigned.
If in fact this isn't going to be a border, then you wouldn't move Palestinians out of there, because you're still going to end up negotiating what would be the eventual border. But, as I said, this line could be there for one year or two years or 50 years. If the Palestinians are not capable or willing to assume responsibilities on their side, so that territories are Palestinian are used as a platform from which to attack Israelis, well then you are not going to see that line transformed. I don't think you deal with what the ultimate border is, and therefore this position of at least the Palestinians until you get to that point. But from the standpoint of Israelis getting out of Palestinian lives on the one hand, promoting Israeli security on the other, you probably will evacuate settlements before in fact you get to that point. And that in a sense already creates a very dramatically different situation than we have today. The real issue is what's the timeframe. I mean, I would state an intention, and then you could have some time frame. I wouldn't say it has to be instantaneous.
Q (Off mike)?
MR. ROSS: Well, that's -- no, look, the critical -- one of the reasons we tend to talk in terms of coordinated unilateralism is that if you do this only -- if the Israelis do it without any consideration for what happens on the other side, without planning for it, then you can't deal with a question like that. One of the things we have to do is talking to both sides -- talking to the Arab leaders, talking to the Europeans as well. And in this particular case one of the things you were trying to do is to sort out what's going to happen. What's the time frame here in terms of evacuation? What happens between now and the time you do it? Does that time line get affected by Palestinian behavior one way or the other? What are the -- if in the event that there are attacks either against those settlements before the Israelis have withdrawn, or whether there's attacks into Israel after the Israelis have already built the fence and created some process of evacuation, what are the Israeli responses? How are those perceived by us? What do we consider to be within the context of appropriate and not? You know, we haven't even begun from our standpoint to address all those questions. That's again why I say if you are going to approach this, approach it strategically not tactically. We can't wait until the last minute. The Israelis can't wait until the last minute just to say, All right, we're going to withdraw, without having addressed a wide array of questions, some of which you just raised, others of which I'm starting to suggest.
Q (Off mike)?
MR. MAKOVSKY: Right. Look, I think the enmity here that you've laid forth -- I don't know the exact -- I know a friend of mine, Khalil Shikaki (ph), who is a prominent pollster -- I think his polls are very good. I don't know if that one was his poll, but it seems to me enmity is here and, yes, it's caused by promos and the like of decades. But frankly it's also been nurtured. I mean, it's been nurtured, unfortunately, by a regime that has never really done any intellectual groundwork in accepting the moral legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state. And so it's not just spontaneous that this stuff goes on the airwaves and the like.
I will say though while the enmity exists and the lack of leadership is obvious, I don't expect that once this line is drawn everyone is going to love each other. I don't. But my hope is that it will hold us over, as Dennis pointed out, until the leadership changes and until there is a tone at the top that suggests that partnership is possible. This could be a long haul. I hope 50 years, as Dennis put out -- you know, we all pray it's nothing like that of course. But in the meantime what it seems to me is that with the rejectionists are saying on the Palestinian side is this is the best, you know, politically of course -- humanitarily it's terrible. But so long as it's all one big mishmash, the soup as I call it, then we'll just wait it out, because within eight years, six years, however you want to count, the Jews will be a minority, we'll go up to the United States Congress, and say, There's a minority here ruling a majority, even if it's not in its sovereign borders, but in the whole area. And so just bring it on, you know? Let it just keep coming like this and do nothing, so we could focus on this one-state solution.
The term "one-state solution" means -- it's a euphemism for the destruction of Israel. But I think they see the demographic trend such that they would like the status quo -- the rejectionists, not most people who are suffering -- and I don't believe most people that terrible situation on either side. But, you know, they do have an interest to keep stirring the pot. And it seems to me that without a fence, more suicide attacks, you won't disentangle the spaghetti and there was no hope for a two-state solution that could provide dignity. Will Israel have to act in self-defense, when there are these attacks? Yes, I am sure. But I think you're much better off in those cases to limit the friction to reduce the level of friction than you would be under the current status quo, which I think actually serves the rejectionists who want this situation to keep blowing over. But I agree with you that by merely setting up a fence and taking down settlements in and of itself it will not solve the problem. I mean, let's remember that Ehud Barak in the year 2000 offered to take down 80 and 90 settlements, and that didn't bring the peace. So there's no reason to believe that taking down settlements in and of itself will bring peace. Will it reduce the friction and enable the two sides to deal for the longer haul? I think so.
Q (Off mike)?
REP. ROS-LEHTINEN: Maybe you could be one of our presenters next time. Get to your question. Why don't you identify yourself.
Q (Off mike)?
MR. MAKOVSKY: All right, Khalid, I'm glad you asked that, because my point of showing the encirclement fence, which is the way it's been depicted for the most part -- I mean, I got the fence -- I mean, I got that map from the PLO website. You're right, if they build that fence the way you said, what I call the encirclement fence, I do think it's a disaster. I said the word Bantustan; I think it would be terrible. But that's why it isn't being build. And I think -- I'm not blaming you, but I'm saying that I think who ever puts that out and says, This is what Israel is doing -- without looking at what Israel is doing, you know, puts forward information that is not accurate. Because if they do what you said, Khalid, that 98 percent of the settlers are outside the encirclement fence, what I call it -- and I do think it will preclude a two-state solution. We don't disagree.
My belief though -- it's not just my belief -- it's what's on the ground -- that's not what they are doing. And you just -- you know, factually, you know -- and we have to see that. Now, it doesn't mean there might not be some who would like to do that, and therefore I think it's good to be vigilant, to make sure it isn't happening. I understand, you know, it would definitely be helpful if there were more public statements disavowing what's on the PLO website. That would put the matter to rest. But what MOD fence is up against is not the encirclement fence right now. And so that nightmare scenario that you put forward is not what's happening.
REP. ROS-LEHTINEN: Dennis?
MR. ROSS: Khalid, you said is the issue terror or is it demography. And the answer is it's both. The situation we're talking about -- what we are laying out is if in fact the alternative to the siege is a fence, and maybe you have 75 percent of the territory -- David talked about 85.5 percent -- I'll say, for the sake of argument let's say 75 percent of the territory suddenly becomes available to the Palestinians -- a dramatically better situation for the Palestinians. It's terror because it's in fact the fence that is being built that wasn't being built before for the very reasons David was saying. Why was it not built before? Precisely because there were many in Israel -- and there were some who had this ideology -- that a fence meant that you would have to get out of the West Bank -- get out of it -- you would have to partition it. That's what it does mean. So they didn't want to build it, but they've built it precisely because -- or they are building it precisely because of the terror.
What we are suggesting about the demography is there's also demographic arguments. So there's a security reason to build it, there's a demographic reason to build it.
If the alternative was available today of producing an actual agreement, that would be far -- that would be vastly preferable. When we were negotiating, we weren't focused on building a fence; we were focused on producing a solution that provided for two states to be able to live side by side. We haven't had a peace process for the last three years. And the reality today is you can't produce one that is suddenly going to transform the psychology and the practicalities on the ground.
So either we can maintain the situation as it is, which is a disaster. As I've said, I've been throughout the West Bank, I know what Palestinians are having to contend with. But I'm also saying it's a disaster for Israel. So your choice is to -- unless you see security responsibilities assumed, which we are not seeing -- and less of it even now than before -- so your choice is either go the route of keeping it as it is, or try to find something that's a way station. And the way station isn't the encirclement plan. The reason David has it up there is to say that's not tenable. That's not practical.
REP. ROS-LEHTINEN: Thank you, ambassador. I know that before we started, Matt Burr (ph) -- I don't know if he's still here -- of JTA had told me that he had wanted to be recognized. Okay, thank you.
Q (Off mike)?
MR. MAKOVSKY: I do think so, because I think most Israelis at this point are waking up to the demographics in a way that they hadn't before. And they realized that if they do an encirclement plan that this just ensnares them in much more Palestinian lives. So I don't think it's going to take a lot. And every -- you know, when you talk to the most senior military people in Israel, the senior cabinet people, and they just said, "I know what you're going to ask me, David - -you're going to ask me if we're going to build an eastern fence and do the encirclement fence, right?" I said, "Yes." They go, "We're not doing it." I said, "It would be nice then to have the prime minister say it publicly." And so far that hasn't happened. Whether he's using it for bargaining reasons or he doesn't want to anger settlers by making an act of disavowal -- I actually think it would clarify the debate a lot, so you wouldn't have the question from Khalid that we just had before, because, A, Israel isn't doing it anyway. So why not get the credit for something, so put that whole idea to rest. So I don't think a lot of pressure is going to be needed, because the Israelis have realized that this eastern fence is a disaster and they're not doing it.
REP. ROS-LEHTINEN: I know you've been -- please just identify yourself.
Q Eric -- (inaudible) -- B'nai B'rith International. I was wondering if either one of you could comment on the -- (inaudible) -- against Israel at the -- (inaudible) -- International Court of Justice. If there is an unfavorable ruling, unfavorable to Israel, what are the likely policies, political impacts?
MR. ROSS: Now you have not only the United States, but the British, the Australians and a number of others now weighing in saying this is really not the forum to be holding such a hearing.
If there is an unfavorable ruling, it will have no immediate practical effect, because it gets reported back to the U.N. General Assembly and there is nothing that is going to happen as a result of that. But it is part of a larger effort I think to delegitimize the very idea of Israel's self-defense.
Again, I mean, no one is laying out the alternative. No one is saying, Well, where are the Palestinian responsibilities here? I know one of the arguments is, Well, they're under occupation -- what do you expect? But the reality is in the year 2000 we had a chance to end the occupation. When you think about the map that David showed, it understates what the Clinton ideas would have been from a Palestinian standpoint. It shows 95 percent. It doesn't say anything about the swap. When we were at Camp David, we suggested something that was less. The swap area was only going to be one percent then, and it was going to be adjacent to Gaza. When we did the Clinton ideas, we didn't do that. So it wasn't five percent. It was four to six percent annexation in return to a one to three percent swap. But the one through three percent swap could have opposite the West Bank -- meaning areas that are currently Israel would be swapped. The original idea at Camp David was you take it from the negative. Later on we didn't designate that. So conceivably that 95 percent could actually be 97 percent of the territory in effect.
Now, you -- you know, that was what was available -- and was rejected. And the issue here is security for the Israelis, independence for the Palestinians. If you're going to focus in the ICJ about delegitimizing the right of the Israelis to self-defense, you have to ask the question, What do the Israelis have a right to do?
REP. ROS-LEHTINEN: Okay, we'll just take one more, if that's okay with the gentlemen, and continue that in two weeks. What was the first name again, please?
Q (Off mike)?
MR. ROSS: Steve, I'm still against unilateral action. I say it has to be coordinated. We don't have a negotiation right now. We don't have a peace process right now. We have a disaster right now. What I want to see is something that is coordinated. That's why I want, if we can't bring the two sides together to be able to negotiate, then we have to do it in parallel.
We talk about if the Israelis were withdrawing from the Jordan Valley, that would be unilateral action. It doesn't mean you're against unilateral action. The fact is, we want to look at actions that can actually change the climate. It is going to have to be negotiated by us, even if it's not done directly. Maybe it's done in parallel. The whole point is to get from where we are to the situation that makes peace possible again.
We have a war process today, we don't have a peace process. If things stay as they are, we will see drifts, more violence, more suffering on both sides. This is something that is taking place. Now, we have an Israeli Prime Minister who is now talking about getting out of Gaza unilaterally. Now, you wouldn't be against his getting out of Gaza unilaterally. The question is, how do we take steps like this, and how do we create some parallels, so that we transform what is the current situation that is, in effect, something that works catastrophically against both sides.
What David and I are trying to do is look at the current situations there, and what's possible? We see a fence going in. How do you shape this fence in a way that is constructive enough to be separate? How do you take the reality of the Israelis possibly pulling back with security lines, and work with the Palestinians to change the reality on their side in terms of the steps it will take. There is nothing more important on the Palestinian side than assuming possibility, not avoiding it. The worst thing throughout the Oslo process was the instinct to always avoid responsibility and not to take it.
One of Abu Mazen's most important speeches before he became Prime Minister when he said, we need responsibility over unity. Because as you know, as a student and having dealt with the PLO in particular, unity was a theme that predominated more than responsibility. So, how do we take the current circumstance and how do we build responsibility on the Palestinian side and, in effect, responsibility on the Israeli side to do this in a way that not only serves the Israeli long-term interest in terms of demography, but serves the Israeli interest in terms of security, and still creates a basis from which to negotiate an eventual settlement over time.
MR. MAKOVSKY: I just want to add something to Steve, here. I believe that there has to be just addition, but subtraction. And that's why I argued for this position that's set forth here about those settlements that are east of the fence, because if it's all addition and no subtraction, it's going to be perceived one way, and even allows these worst case scenario ideas that someone brought up earlier to believe that people would be even more. So, I think this is stirring a debate.
I cannot imagine that we were standing in the Rayburn Building a year ago and we'd be looking in a crystal ball, and we're going to say here's the deal, within a year, Ariel Sharon is going to announce unilaterally pulling out of Gaza, clear out of all the settlements east of the fence which he knows is 50-60 thousand people. And these are the Likud people, the right side. There is no way we'd be having that discussion a year ago. The fence has stirred a debate, I think a healthy debate.
And Gaza is the first step. And, by the way, Gaza, and if I didn't say this I'm certainly remiss, if there is anything that has stirred a debate in Israel to support the fence is the fact that there's been no, zero, not one, Palestinian terror infiltration from Gaza because there's a fence. And look how many human lives are saved on both sides.
So, the fact here is that the fence has worked. It might not be 100 percent, it's 95 percent, but it's stirred a debate in the Likud in my mind because when the idea of pulling out of settlements is, oh, you're going to make us more vulnerable to Yasser Arafat, you're going to assume they're going to assume responsibility when it's Lucy on the football and it never happened. Come on, grow up.
But now the debate is going on on a totally different plane, because people are saying, wait a second, maybe there's if a fence, Israel doesn't have to have a siege on the other side. This debate is in full swing now. Has it happened yet, of course it hasn't happened yet. It's only happening now that Sharon is talking about Gaza, so we'll see. But I think it's the inevitable logic. What Jewish mother is going to want to send their 18-year-old daughter or son to go east of the fence to protect settlements of Palestine, explain that one to me? It's obvious that that's where it's heading.
So, if it's nudged that way, I think it's great. But those are my own personal thoughts about what happens east of the fence. So, there hasn't been the subtraction yet, but there hasn't been the addition of the scenario of the encircling the fence hasn't happened either. So, I just think this logic is obvious, it's a clear rationale that just follows once the fence goes up. And I think the debate is fully underway, stay tuned.
REP. ROS-LEHTINEN: Stay tuned for round two of this discussion. We look forward to having a new set of panelists for the week after next. So, please join us, please come back. Thank you.
LOAD-DATE: February 12, 2004