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Interview with U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator and U.N. Under- Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths; Interview with Former Jordanian Foreign Minister and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Vice President for Studies Marwan Muasher; Interview with Council on Foreign Relations President Emeritus Richard Haass; Interview with Columbia University Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies and "The Hundred Years' War on Palestine" Author Rashid Khalidi. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired October 18, 2023 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
An American president in a war zone, further inflamed by a blast at a Gaza hospital. I get the latest from the U.N. relief chief, Martin Griffiths.
Then, anger unleashed on the Arab streets. Jordan's former foreign minister, Marwan Muasher, joins me.
Also, ahead, what are America's long-term options now? I ask Richard Haass, former State Department official.
Plus, historian Rashid Khalidi talks to Michelle Martin about how today's events will shape the future.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
The American president has stepped into a tinderbox. Joe Biden came to Israel as outrage boiled over across the region after a Gaza hospital was
hit last night. Israel and the United States say it was a failed rocket launch by Palestinian militants. They point at Palestinian Islamic jihad.
But Palestinian officials immediately blamed Israel, prompting street protests from Lebanon to Tunisia and Arab leaders to cancel face-to-face
meetings with Biden.
In Tel Aviv today, the U.S. President insisted U.S. support for Israel remains rock solid.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: October 7th, which was sacred Jewish holiday became the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust. It is
brought to the surface painful memories and scars left by millennia of antisemitism and the genocide of the Jewish people.
The world watched then, it knew, and the world did nothing. We will not stand by and do nothing again. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Biden also said he was outraged by the explosion at the Baptist Hospital, which is run by the Anglican Church. The horrific images of the
aftermath are really hard to look at. Listen to one man talk about the moment of impact.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (through translator): I went into the building and suddenly heard his strikes. Many of my friends were killed. The situation
was so difficult. People thought it was safe. There was no warning. They hit right in the middle of people. Some people disappeared. It was
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Meanwhile, for those in Gaza trying to escape, there is nowhere to go. This man says he feels completely trapped.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Currently, we're at the border. I've been coming almost every day on the hopes that it's going to open, but unfortunately, every
day there's no news. We don't know whether we can leave or stay or at least where it is safe to stay in Gaza, where there's no airstrikes, there's no
bombings. But unfortunately, all Gaza is under attack. All Gaza is a place or a ground for complete bombing.
So, I ask the people out there, the people who have a heart, who do care, to find us a safe haven, or at least get us out of Gaza, get us help.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: While the U.N. is trying to care, Martin Griffiths is the emergency relief coordinator for the U.N., and he's joining me now from
Cairo. Martin Griffiths, welcome back to the program.
MARTIN GRIFFITHS, U.N. EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR AND U.N. UNDER- SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: This is not your first such crisis. You've been dealing with these things all over the world for the U.N. Tell me what exactly is the
status at the Rafah Border? In other words, in Egypt, going into Gaza, why hasn't humanitarian aid been able to go in so far?
GRIFFITHS: We've been in incredibly detailed negotiations with the parties to make an understanding and an agreement on exactly what an aid program
would look like going into Southern Gaza. And it needs to have the following elements, Christiane. Number one, it needs to go in at scale. We
need to start with a serious number of trucks going in. And we need to build up to the hundred trucks a day that used to be the case of the aid
program going into Gaza.
And by the way, with our colleagues and agents in the Red Crescent systems of Egypt and Palestine, as well as UNRWA across U.N. agencies, we have the
resources to do this. So, number one, we need to be able to have the assurance that we can go in at scale every day, deliberately, repetitively,
Secondly, we have to be able to do so to reach people safely. International humanitarian law is there for a reason. It requires people to make their
own choices about where to be safely, and it requires us, and indeed all of us, to ensure that safety and the humanitarian community to provide aid to
people in the places they choose to be safe.
Those two things need to be clarified, committed to, confirmed, and I hope that this will happen within the next couple of days so that we can start
that essential program of aid.
AMANPOUR: So, listen, I want to play you what President Biden said in his speech, because it seems that this is one of the tangible things that he
came away with, and that is apparently an agreement from the Israeli government to allow such aid. Listen to what President Biden said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Today, I asked the Israeli cabinet, who I've met with for some time this morning, to agree to the delivery of life saving humanitarian
assistance to civilians in Gaza based on the understanding that there will be inspections and that the aid should go to civilians, not to Hamas, is to
agree that humanitarian assistance can begin to move from Egypt to Gaza.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I saw you nodding. So, you agree with that, right, that it needs to be checked and then it -- that's a precondition?
GRIFFITHS: Well, I think it's -- and it's entirely normal. It's a verification mechanism. We have staff that we can deploy to do that
verification. As you know, Christiane, we've been doing this for about eight or nine years in Gaziantep or aid going into Northwest Syria. We can
do the same here, and we can do it quickly. We need to agree exactly how it's to work.
We also need to agree, with those two Red Crescent authorities, how to move the aid, most of which is in El Arish Airport, back from Rafah, to the
border with Rafah, hand it over to us and others, to move it to the places where people can use it well.
But as much as anything else, there has to be a very, very public confirmation that this is going to be dependable. And that's why I'm
delighted to hear President Biden's statements of today and the important work that he's been doing in diplomacy with our friends in Israel.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you something? Because there you are in Cairo, and I spoke yesterday to the person you've always also been speaking to, and that
is the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry. And he told me one of the reasons why aid can't go through, and that there are dozens if not hundreds
of trucks piled up and convoys waiting to go in, is not just because of the need to check them, but because there are airstrikes around Rafah and the
area has been damaged. Can you confirm that?
GRIFFITHS: Well, yes, indeed. And that's why, again, just to be boring, international humanitarian law forbids airstrikes on places of civilian
objects, civilian infrastructure. That hospital that you so horrifyingly cited earlier was just one such. So, there are -- bombing is going on, on
civilian objects, which has to stop for us to be able to reach people safely.
It's the safety of aid which is as important as its dependability. We can do it because we have the aid, we have the people, we have the trucks, and
we certainly have the will. You know, UNRWA has 14,000 staff still in Gaza, 14,000 staff who haven't left and are still there working bravely along
with many, many others. And these people are available to deliver according to the usual mandate. We need clarity about the circumstances of that aid
program, and then we need to get moving.
Martin Griffiths, you raised the attack, the hit, the blast on the hospital, the Israelis went into overdrive and did an investigation, which
they released. The Americans then independently confirmed it. And that they believe, according to all the evidence, that it was a failed launch of a
rocket. They specifically named Palestinian Islamic jihad, and they released intercepts as well. Now, do you accept that? Is that done now? Is
that OK? That's it, that's done?
GRIFFITHS: Well, it's not done for me because I'm not in the business of judging human rights abuses and atrocities of that kind, and it's damned
certainly an atrocity.
The U.N. will certainly want to do its own investigation. In fact, my colleague, Tor Wennesland, today briefing the Security Council, spoke about
the need for such an investigation, and that should be done very soon, very quickly.
But you know, more important than that, as important as that is, is to say we can learn from this to stop it happening to the next hospital, to the
next school, to the next institution where people are fleeing. Let us use this awful atrocity. Let us build on the terrible atrocity that happened on
October the 7th, when those hostages were taken unconscionably by Hamas and still are in -- hidden in Gaza, let us use these egregious examples to
teach us how to behave better for the benefit of the people who are still there.
AMANPOUR: Just -- I think the U.N. demands independent investigations in all these kinds of issues. You can say yes or no. But what I want to know
is, let's say these are the facts about this particular blast and these particular deaths, but you've mentioned UNRWA workers are still there. Have
any of them lost their lives in this round of airstrikes? Have other hospitals and, you know, essential life-giving facilities being attacked in
this round of airstrikes? Because the Israelis tell us that we can't believe what the Palestinian "Hamas Ministry of Health" tells us.
GRIFFITHS: Well, you know, and this is not the first time that warring parties haven't believed each other in situations like this and traded
accusations. UNRWA has lost 15 staff members, dead. My own office, my own office has lost family members, dead in Gaza. And we are the least of those
who are suffering from the situation there.
So, the loss of life, which is, you know, as much as was lost in the 2014 conflict has been considerable. And the worry, Christiane, if I may, that
we all have about this is, where will this go? Where will this end up? We do not want -- we understand entirely the Israeli desire to get those
hostages safely home as soon as possible. I totally go for that. But we do not want to create a new anger, a new terror in that part of the world that
will drive another generation of enmity and lack of neighborliness. We need neighbors to get on with each other. And I'm worried, as much as anything
else, about the morning after.
Do you remember, Christiane, the war and the occupation of Iraq? You remember it very well. One of the mistakes that we all made there was not
to think about the day after the end of the fighting. This is as important now in Gaza at the West Bank.
AMANPOUR: And indeed, President Biden did warn about that and we'll get to that a little bit later. But in the meantime, I want to play you one small
soundbite of desperation in terms of humanitarian need by actually a young person who works for us, a journalist in Gaza. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (through translator): This what that we fill is for toilets, we don't have any drinkable water. There is no drinkable water in
Gaza. We drink toilet water. Our children drink toilet water.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Martin, I know apparently you can't see that, but I'm going to say what he tells us. This water that we fill is for toilets. We don't have
any drinkable water. There's no drinkable water in Gaza. We drink toilet water. I swear our children drink toilet water. Give me a quick assessment
of the emergency regarding clean water.
GRIFFITHS: Clean water is the most perilous threat right now to the health of the people of Gaza. You know, the health system is in ruins, as we well
know. Clean water, which also needs fuel to get it into taps and into rooms where it can be used is at an absolute standstill. UNRWA, which provides,
and has done for many years, clean water to people under its care has had to cut its ration to one liter per day per person.
Now, the standard rate, Christiane, as you know, is 15 liters. One liter for the lucky ones. So, I'm not surprised by the anguish of your colleague.
We need water, food, health, and the fuel to get the water to those who need it. Four things that we need to take in in this aid program that I've
been talking about should start --
GRIFFITHS: -- as soon as possible.
AMANPOUR: And as I said, we will wait to see because the Israeli cabinet, according to President Biden, has agreed to do that. President -- rather,
the prime minister of Israel released a statement on that matter. Thank you so much.
Now, President Biden has left Israel and the region after failing to have that summit with Arab leaders. Let's go now to Marwan Muasher, who was
Jordan's ambassador to Israel and later Jordan's foreign minister. Welcome to the program, Marwan.
MARWAN MUASHER, FORMER JORDANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER AND VICE PRESIDENT FOR STUDIES, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you, first and foremost, how do you react now to the fact that your king, the president of Egypt, the president of the
Palestinian Authority canceled their summit with President Biden because they believed -- I assume that's why, they believed that Israel had struck
that Baptist Hospital in Gaza. Was it hasty?
MUASHER: I think, Christiane, public opinion after the hospital attack would not have allowed the summit to take place. The Arab public puts the
attack squarely on Israel. And under these circumstances, it would have been extremely difficult for the summit to take place. This is one.
I also think that there were no guarantees that the summit would have led to a ceasefire, and the public would have questioned its usefulness because
of that. And I think the third reason is that if the Israelis feel that Iran is complicit with Hamas on this attack, then the Arab public also
feels there is no daylight between the U.S. administration's position and that of Israel. They also further feel that there is a process of
dehumanization of Palestinians that is going on.
When Israeli casualties are there, you feel there's a lot of empathy by the International Community, but that empathy is lacking when it comes to
Palestinians. And under these circumstances I believe it would have been extremely difficult for the summit to take place.
AMANPOUR: Can I just push a little bit further on that? You say, no matter the evidence, and the United States has independently confirmed the
evidence, that the Arab street nonetheless doesn't believe Israel. Is that --
MUASHER: I think there is --
AMANPOUR: Yes. But is that sustainable for the future?
MUASHER: I think, Christiane, there is a need for an independent investigation to take place. I'm not going to say who did it, but there is
also strong indications by the other side. For example, that same hospital was targeted by Israeli rockets.
Last Saturday, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who is -- of course, whose church is in charge of the hospital, put something on Twitter
last Saturday saying that his hospital was bombed and that there were four injuries. Just today, he put another statement, you know, reiterating that
So, Palestinian hospital officials also said that they received warnings from the IDF after the first attack to evacuate the hospital. So, I don't
think we can pass judgment before we can see, you know, strong evidence as to who did it. But beyond who did it, Christiane, beyond who did it, this
is a prelude to the kind of carnage that we are going to see if Israel invades Gaza. And I'm afraid we might see tens of thousands of casualties
if Israel indeed goes in Gaza.
That cannot be under Israel's, you know, right to defend itself. Collective punishment, cutting off water from 2 million Palestinians cannot be
condoned or justified in the name of the right to defend itself. That is international law and that should be respected by Israel, you know, to the
AMANPOUR: Now, we obviously have spoken to Martin Griffiths, and you might have heard it, there does seem to be an agreement, which, of course, we're
going to be following and watching to see if it comes through to actually start allowing, you know, water and all the rest in. But you're right, the
defense minister called a complete blockade and siege of Gaza last week. And clearly, this is a huge matter of concern to the U.S. and to everybody
in the region.
But can I ask you this, do you -- and you've been around for a long, long time, all the way back to the original period Peace Accords, Oslo, and the
aftermath, do you think, first and foremost, that there is a risk that Iran, Hezbollah, others might get even more involved in the backlash
towards Israel right now?
MUASHER: I do not believe at this stage, Christiane, that Hezbollah will get involved. Hezbollah understands that if it does it might face a serious
blow to its infrastructure. We have had five Israeli incursions into Gaza during the last 20 years, and Hezbollah did not get involved in any of
them. One of them was 51-year -- days you know, of incursion. So, unless there is something massive that changes the equation, I do not believe that
Hezbollah will get involved.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you this, because I remember certainly many, many years ago, your king, King Hussein, went to Israel and knelt at the feet of
the parents of those who were killed, Israelis who were killed by a Jordanian terrorist. And he essentially, you know, offered condolences and
You have a peace agreement with Israel. In the aftermath of what happened on October 7th, do you have any hope that a peace agreement can -- in any
way, can eventually be restarted?
MUASHER: I don't, in the short-term. And I'll tell you why, Christiane. Who is going to start this peace process? The Americans are preoccupied
with their elections next year. They are in no mood. They have not been in a mood to start negotiations for the last nine years since John Kerry last
abandoned his peace efforts.
The Palestinian Authority is at its weakest. And the Israeli government, which is a very hardline rightist government is in no mood, has not been in
a mood, even before this, for any political compromise. They have made it clear that they do not intend to end the occupation. By the way, the
occupation, you know, needs to be mentioned because that's the root cause of what we are seeing. And we have to contextualize what is going on. But
the Israeli government is in no mood to do all of this. So, who is going to lead this process of negotiations?
I also want to say another thing is we cannot keep in this cycle of violence and peace negotiations that lead to nowhere. If there is to be a
process, and I unfortunately do not expect one, it has to be a process aimed at ending the occupation. If the occupation does not end, then I'm
afraid that this cycle of violence on both sides will continue.
AMANPOUR: You mentioned the far -- I think you call them extremists, but in any event, the far-right nationalist religious coalition that makes up
Netanyahu's government. And you know that many of them believe that actually the Palestinians in the West Bank should probably go to Jordan and
that's where they should be and that should be a homeland.
Now, your king has said that this is a red line, either pushing them into Jordan or into Egypt is a red line. Do you think that red line will hold or
do you think that there'll be pressure, that kind of pressure on the Palestinians in both the occupied West Bank and, you know, right now
MUASHER: If the Israelis -- Israeli government does not intend to end the occupation and establish a solution, and they have made clear they don't
want that, and if the Israeli government, on the other hand, also does not want a Palestinian majority in areas under its control, and today, we have
a slim majority of Palestinians under Israel's control already, and if they don't want that, because that can only mean one thing, an apartheid state,
then logically, the only alternative left for Israel is to try to affect a mass transfer of Palestinians from Gaza to Egypt and from the West Bank to
And that is Jordan's biggest worry. The Egyptian president has made it clear that no refugees would be accepted in Egypt. And King Abdullah has
also made it clear that no Palestinian refugees will be accepted into Jordan because that will empty the West Bank and Gaza of its Palestinian
population and that would basically be what Israel wants.
So, we are in a very tough position if the conflict escalates into the West Bank, then that possibility of mass transfer is real. After what has
happened in Syria and what has happened in Ukraine, mass transfer cannot be ruled out.
AMANPOUR: Marwan Muasher, thank you very much, indeed.
And I want to turn next to Richard Haass, a former high-level official at the U.S. State Department and now emeritus president of the Council on
Foreign Relations. Richard Haass, welcome back to the program. Can I begin by asking you how you assess, as an American diplomat, the success or not
of President Biden's visit to Israel today?
RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT EMERITUS, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: I think he was dealt, Christiane, an incredibly difficult hand, and I think he
played it extremely well, and he had to improvise along the way. The original intent was to obviously make these two stops, go to Israel, give -
- you know, give support publicly, privately give cautionary advice, and then have a separate meeting with the Arab leaders and see what they could
do to help either, you know, with refugees, with aid, with hostage exchanges, with bringing about some type of lowering of violence. But then
because of the hospital incident, that part of the diplomacy was lost.
So, President Biden basically had a pivot. And the speech he gave today, I thought, was really extraordinary. And what he had to do was essentially
blend support for Israel. At the same time, what he was going to say in private he said in public. And he said, essentially, you can't lay siege to
Gaza. We support humanitarian aid getting in there. We're against something large that doesn't distinguish between Hamas and the people of Gaza, yet he
was still very supportive.
So, I think he did extraordinarily well under very difficult circumstances. But that said, he's now left the region, and I think what comes next is
still very much up in the air.
AMANPOUR: Indeed. And you just heard Marwan Muasher, you know, somebody who you know, obviously, very well, and who's been in the peace camp
forever. And he basically says, and like many Arabs believe, that when it does come to this atrocious, atrocious slaughter of Israelis compared to
the deaths and the killings of Palestinians under airstrikes and things, there is more empathy from the United States to Israelis.
I want to play this soundbite from President Biden when he was speaking about the actual hospital attack earlier this morning in Israel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I was deeply saddened and outraged by the explosion at the hospital in Gaza yesterday. And based on what I've seen, it appears as though it was
done by the other team, not you. But there's a lot of people out there who are not sure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, now, we know that the U.S. independently believes it is as Israel said, that it was a faulty Islamic jihad rocket. But I want to ask
you about the other team, not your team, and whether you think that -- I'm not asking for a competition of empathy, but whether, in fact, in the
general attempt to solve this -- you know, this terrible wound between Israel and the Palestinians, that there is a lack of empathy on the other
side, for the other side.
HAASS: I don't think so. And I think even if Israel had done this, let's just take the worst possible case that they had done this, it would not
have been with intent. And that's what fundamentally distinguishes it from what Hamas did, because everything Hamas did on October 7th was with
But more broadly, I think, you know, the United States for, what, for decades now has tried to balance or manage a special relationship with
Israel, which it obviously has for a host of historical and cultural and demographic and you name it reason, political reasons, with also a larger
role in the region. And the United States has been the only country that's been able to broker what peace there is, whether it's between Israel and
Egypt, Israel and Jordan, the Abraham Accords, and so forth.
So, we've basically been able to manage special relationship with Israel with sufficient empathy and connections to the Arab world. It's obviously
under strain in the current crisis. It's not the first time that's the case. But at the end of the day, there's no one else who's going to be able
to talk to both sides.
And that's why, I'm coming back to something more while I'm was saying, Christiane, yes, it's maybe understandable that the Arab leaders, because
of public opinion, wouldn't meet with the president, but really shortsighted. It's not only that they essentially signed on to the idea
this must have been Israel, but just say -- again, take the worst, just say it had been Israel, it still would have argued for them meeting with the
American president, because that way he would hear both sides and he would get their views.
And so, it's only made his role, I think, more difficult and it's fed what's behind that your question. I'm not accusing you of this, but the
idea that the United States is unalterably one sided here. Well, it doesn't help when the other side doesn't meet with the president of the United
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you because, you know, I think everybody wants to believe that there is still some life left in the lifeless body of the
peace process. And as Marwan was saying, it really has had no American attention, no serious American attention since Kerry's last trip in 2009.
And you know this, that the U.S. has not thought that it was actually doable, worthwhile, you know, to spend political capital or whatever, to
try to achieve this.
And in the meantime, the whole thing has -- in this particular regard, any idea of peace is completely untended and appears to be off the table. That
also must be dangerous. Do you think that can be resuscitated in any way, shape or form?
HAASS: Look, the patient was clearly on life support. But, you know, if I can paraphrase Winston Churchill, a two-state solution is the worst idea
for the Israeli Palestinian equation, except for all the others. It's the only way to give the Palestinians some, even if not all, of what they want,
but a considerable degree of control over their lives.
If Israel wants to remain a Jewish and a democratic state, the only way Israel can have both, if there is a separate Palestinian State, Israel
cannot be democratic if it's overseeing 5 million Palestinians. It can't be Jewish if they have full citizenship. So, I actually think there's still a
logic. I have no illusions, trust me. I've spent more years working on this than I can count. But I am hoping that one of the lessons of what's
happened is absent the political track back in the Middle East groups like Hamas become the only game in town.
So, this is going to be a long process. It's got to start. I think it starts in the West Bank. It starts with Israel. And you're right, it has to
start also with the United States. We have -- we bought into, I think, too much the idea that the region could stay quiet if -- with what you might
call a top-down approach, just bring in all the Arab governments and that will be enough, and the Palestinian issue will just sit there. I think that
was shortsighted. I think it was wrong.
I don't think the United States could have promoted negotiations. What I wish we had done more of, Christian, was preserve the possibility of a
Palestinian State. We ought to have pushed back much harder against settlement activity. We should have pushed harder for Israel to grant
Palestinians in the occupied territories, greater self-government. So, I think we've erred by -- more by acts of omission than commission, but it's
not too late for us to get back into that process.
AMANPOUR: That would require knowing what the end game of the war against Hamas is, because as you say it, and as everybody will agree and accept
right now, and has always accepted, that Hamas is not a partner for peace. And as long as Hamas is there, there's no hope for this, what we're talking
about. So, what --
HAASS: Can I just disagree?
HAASS: I think there is. I think what the United States has to do -- there's no hope with Hamas, I agree with that.
HAASS: I think what we need to do is make the peace process very real in the West Bank against rollback settlement activity, open up a serious
negotiation, lay out the contours of a Palestinian State and ultimately move towards that in the West Bank.
If that can happen, if we can demonstrate that there really is a serious, viable, meaningful path for Palestinians who rule out violence and who are
willing to coexist with Israel, then we've got something to compete with Hamas with.
Now, I can't say we're going to win, so you may end up ultimately with a three-state solution. A Palestinian State in the West Bank and a separate
entity under Hamas. But my guess is that even if you began there, sooner or later, the success of a Palestinian State that was coexisting peacefully,
had trade with Israel, the success there would create all sorts of pressures on Gaza.
So, my view is the way to begin is not with Gaza, not with Hamas, begin with the West Bank and create pressures, ultimately a competitive pressure
AMANPOUR: That's interesting. Of course, it would require the current coalition in Israel to completely change its stripes because they don't
believe that at all for the West Bank, quite the opposite as we were discussing with Marwan.
HAASS: Hundred percent.
AMANPOUR: But on the issue of Gaza -- I need to ask you though. I need to ask you because, you know, the idea of the Israelis is to disable Hamas,
militarily and politically. So, what do you see -- because we haven't been told what the plan is, if they even managed to do that militarily. What is
the plan the day after? What is the day after? President Biden warned them about rage, about what America did and all the missteps, you know, after
9/11, with Iraq and all the rest of it. What do you think is the plan or could be the plan, for the result of a ground war into Gaza?
HAASS: I don't think there is a plan, and I don't think there can be. The idea that the Palestinian Authority would step in as an alternative to
Hamas is laughable. The idea that the Arab governments, Egypt or anybody else, would step in is equally laughable.
Hamas is going to be there, whether it's called Hamas or it has another name, something like it is going to be there. And the best you can do then
is go back to some type of management. Israel needs to rebuild its defenses in its southwest so what happened on October 7th could never ever happen
again. That's the best thing I think Israel could do.
It could reestablish deterrence with limited airstrikes or limited ground operations as need be. Humanitarian supplies would flow into to Gaza. Look,
Israel has lived with non-peace on other borders with Syria and Lebanon and so forth. So, I think that's probably the best you can hope for.
AMANPOUR: Really interesting. Thank you, Richard Haass, for that really interesting perspective there. Thank you.
So, what will America's Unwavering support for Israel mean for long-term peace, as we've been discussing? In a recent "New York Times" opinion
piece, Palestinian American historian Rashi Khalidi raises his concerns over U.S. policy. And the Columbia University professor talks to Michel
Martin about how this could go on for many more years. And a note, this conversation was recorded just before the hospital blast in Gaza last
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Christiane. Professor Khalidi, thank you so much for speaking with us.
RASHID KHALIDI, EDWARD SAID PROFESSOR OF MODERN ARAB STUDIES, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY AND AUTHOR, "THE HUNDRED YEARS' WAR ON PALESTINE": Thanks for
MARTIN: So, can I just start with the human question? You know, how are you?
KHALIDI: I've been better. I've been through a war in Lebanon for nine or 10 years. So, I've had the experience close up. But when I'm hearing from
family in Palestine and what I'm hearing from my students is very distressing. But we're managing, so far.
MARTIN: Could you just give me a sense of just what your reaction was? What went through your mind when you heard of the events of last week? As
we are speaking now, we are a week -- about a week or so past the attack, which sort of set off this current -- the current situation that we're here
to talk about. Could you mind just telling me what went through your mind?
KHALIDI: Well, I was shocked and surprised when it started, obviously. I was horrified by the initial accounts and the images that came out of
Israel, initially. And I began to fear for Gaza, people in Gaza, because I knew that what would follow would be hellish and it has been. And it's
extended now to other areas so far in a limited way, but I'm very, very fearful for what may be to come.
So, one of the reasons we called you is that you are a historian and I think that -- and you've also written a piece in "The New York Times," an
essay, which people can read if they are so inclined. At the core of it, from my read of it, is that you want to make the point that history didn't
start last week. So, as briefly as you can, what would you say were the seminal events that are relevant to our understanding of what is happening
KHALIDI: I'll try and be brief. But very simply, the bulk of the population in the Gaza Strip are not from Gaza. They are refugees who were
driven out of their homes in the southern parts of what is now Israel. So, the settlements that were overrun on Saturday in many places are in place
of Palestinian towns and villages. That these people whose parents and grandparents were driven into the Gaza Strip. So, this is a refugee
population, made refugees by the Nakba of 1948, in the great majority.
The second thing I would say is that they have been imprisoned in a sort of open-air prison camp since 2007. There's been a siege and a blockade. Most
people in the Gaza Strip have not been able to leave the Gaza Strip in that time. Most people in the Gaza Strip have been basically subjected to this
for much of -- if not most of their lives. About half of them are children.
And so, they've lived their entire life blockaded in an area a little smaller than Detroit, 2.2 or 3 million people. And that's some of the
history. There's a much deeper history to the failure, the utter failure of the United States to do anything to resolve this, the efforts of the '90s
failed and nothing has been really done since then.
There is the failure of the Israeli government to offer any political horizon to the Palestinians over a very long period of time. There are many
MARTIN: Why now? And I just want to emphasize again for people who just may be joining our conversation that you're not a spokesperson for Hamas.
You're not a part of it. Hamas is a political party with a military wing. It's a political movement. And you know, but you're not a spokesman for
them. You're not a strategist for them. But I am interested, as a historian, in what is your take on why this happened now?
I mean, there are those who argue that this is because the U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia have been part of these talks to, you know, consider
normalizing relationships between Saudi Arabia and Israel, and that this was meant to disrupt it. You know, the people, you know, don't think that's
true. And other people say this is just this is just another example, you know, of Hamas is kind of suicidal, you know, tendencies.
KHALIDI: The first thing is, it would really be worthwhile for the people who babble on about Hamas' essential nature to do some reading into the
history of Hamas. It's gone back and forth in different ways.
At one stage, it was supported by and encouraged by the Israeli Intelligence Services as a counter to the PLO back in the 1980s when it was
founded in early '90s. Israeli analysts have talked about that. There's a lot of information about that.
Secondly, it has evolved over time. It has all kinds of elements that I personally find objectionable in their politics and in their practice. But
they have changed in various ways over time.
The third thing that I would say is, I don't think we should look at what happened starting a week ago, Saturday, as the beginning of this. They have
been planning this for a while. And the reasons that they gave -- their military commander gave a statement early in the morning of Saturday,
October 7th, where he said, Jerusalem -- what's happening in Jerusalem, settlements, what's happening in terms of the expansion of settlements and
what Israeli settlers in the West Bank are doing, and other things are the causes for this. I think the causes go deeper.
So, I can't say why they did what they did at the time that they did it. But I certainly can say that there have been evolutions in the policy of
Hamas. For example, they joined a coalition government after the elections of 2006, and they said they would allow the PA to negotiate with Israel,
and that they were offering a 100-year truce. Now, that may not have been satisfactory to Israelis, but at least exploring that, which the United
States and Israel refused to do, might have been better than are going down the path that we've gone down since 2006.
MARTIN: What do you think is your role right now?
KHALIDI: I'm a historian. I believe that context is important. I believe that history is important. I believe that if you see what happened -- the -
- what happened in Israeli settlements on the day and days immediately after this attack, what is happening now in Gaza, and you just look at
that, you won't understand anything at all.
And if you don't understand something about urban warfare and about warfare in heavily populated places, and what that does to people, you will
understand nothing. What is happening and is going to happen in Gaza is sowing the seeds of things that we're going to deal with in the two 2020s
and '30s. And I don't see the military strategist, American or Israeli, thinking about that. I don't think Hamas cared about that, frankly. That
wasn't -- that -- I don't think that was it. And that's to me, obviously a tragedy. But -- as a Palestinian and as a person with family there.
But I think that it is now incumbent on American politicians to think not just of the next election, of course, that's what they think about, but to
think about where does this lead, this part of the world, on the day after whatever Israel decides to do? And I don't think there's been enough
thinking about that. And looking at the history of the United States in the Middle East, what happened in Iraq, for example, should lead us to think a
little more carefully, perhaps.
MARTIN: You mentioned, you know, elections. You said people should think ahead to the next elections. One of these sorts of ongoing issues here is
that, you know, Hamas has been sort of in -- sort of titular control of Gaza since, you know, 2006, you know, 2007. They haven't had elections in
that time. What -- they could have, they didn't. Why -- how should people think about that? I mean, can you argue that they have a mandate from the
Palestinian people for what they're doing now? And if that's not the case, then how should we think about that?
KHALIDI: I don't think they, any longer, have whatever mandate they might have gotten in the 2006 elections. And of course, there should be
elections. This has been a demand of Palestinian civil society for a very, very long time. I support that. There should be a democratically elected
and an entirely new Palestinian leadership.
One of the problems that Palestinians have had historically is that their leadership has often been unrepresentative and it's often been tone-deaf.
Two really important things. And I think that's true of all the leaderships today. And I -- it's a tragedy for the Palestinians above all, but it's a
tragedy for everybody in the Middle East, including Israelis.
I won't say anything about Israeli leadership, but certainly, I will say about Palestinian leadership that this has been a longstanding problem. The
United States has done nothing to foster elections. Let's -- let that be clear, when there was an effort to have elections recently, the United
States came down against that and has not -- has done nothing when an elected government was produced in 2006 to try and see if it could deal
with that elected government. Instead, the United States went in another direction, which is a terrible, terrible mistake, in my view.
MARTIN: So, there are two points that I want to sort of rise from the piece that you just posted in "The New York Times." There are two points
that I think that you're making. One is, you just talked about the role of the US. government, you had a lot to say about that. I mean, you said, it's
past time for the United States to cease repeating empty words about a two- state solution while providing money, weapons and diplomatic support for systemic calculated Israeli actions that have made that solution
inconceivable, as it has for roughly half a century.
As you and I are speaking, President Biden is, in fact, heading to Israel. Your thoughts about that. Now that he is going, what role would you like to
see the U.S. play now?
KHALIDI: What I would like to see this president or any American president do is to say the political horizon for the Palestinians includes an end to
occupation within X months, not in never, never land, not in final status talks that will never take place. That's what we were told when I was
negotiating in Washington in '91 to '93. Oh, there'll be final status talks. We'll deal with that later. No, end of occupation. Why not? There
has to be an end of occupation. Violence is bred by occupation. Anybody who doesn't understand that, doesn't understand anything.
Secondly, an end to settlement expansion and rolling back of settlements. If you don't tell the Palestinians, we're going to stop this, you're not
going to have an end to violence because when people's land is taken away and they're not given rights, of course, they're going to rise up sooner or
And finally, I think the United States has to look at the Palestinians as if there are people equal to any other people. They need to have the same
rights as Israelis or any other people on Earth. If we support democracy for Ukraine or wherever it may be, we should be supporting democracy for
Palestinians. And if we support self-determination and it end occupation, we should be supporting it for Palestinians as well.
MARTIN: But how do you then address Israel's legitimate security concerns? I mean, the fact of the matter is that there were six openings from Gaza to
Israel at the beginning of the withdrawal of Israelis from the Gaza Strip. And in the wake of repeated suicide bombings, that's why four of the six
were closed and limited to two. And you talked about sort of the open-air prison, that is it part -- why that decision didn't happen in a vacuum.
KHALIDI: I mean, we are now so far down the road from where we were in 2005 when Israel withdrew and built its system of control of Gaza from
without. We're so far down the road from the 2006 elections or 2007 when Hamas took over Gaza. And a lot of water has flown under the bridge. But I
think we have to step back and say, where are we going? Is Israel going to permanently occupy Gaza? Is anybody going to do that for them? If not, what
do you do? You have to address the political problems at the root of this.
If you just apply security band aids and periodic bombings of civilians, which is basically all Israel has offered for the better part of the decade
more, you will get more violence. Violence produces violence. Massive violence produces massive violent reactions. I mean, this is not, how
should I say, rocket science.
MARTIN: But the Palestinians have repeatedly rejected the peace proposals that 1991. I mean, is it -- how should we think about that?
KHALIDI: Well, there's proposals and there are peace proposals. If you're talking about a peace proposal, you're talking about a proposal which
involves sovereignty, statehood, and independence for the Palestinians. No American proposal has ever led to that or been meant to lead to that.
I mean, I was sitting there in Madrid, and I was sitting there in Washington, and from a distance I watched the Oslo process. At no stage did
that process definitively say we are going to end occupation, we're going to roll back settlements, and at the end, you will have an independent
If you don't do those things, those are not peace proposals. Those are proposals to put the status quo in formaldehyde. That's what the United
States and Israel have done, ever since Madrid. Those were not peace proposals. Unless you mean the peace of the dead or the peace of people who
submit to not having equal rights, to not having sovereignty, to not ending a foreign military occupation that's gone on for 56 years. I don't accept
that those were peace proposals.
Even what Rabin said. Rabin went further than any Israeli leader. A couples -- a couple of others got up to that point. He said in his last speech
before the Knesset, there will not be an independent Palestinian State. That was a time before you had suicide bombing, by the way. That was a time
when Arafat and the PLO were wildly popular among Palestinians.
And an agreement could have been sell sold effectively. The United States and Israel just didn't take that option of really pushing the thing to the
end. How do you deal with Jerusalem? How do you deal with refugees? Nobody ever came up with a with a proper solution to these core problems. So, they
were not peace proposals. They were proposals. There was a process. There was no peace.
MARTIN: One of the significant points in your piece, though, is the level of violence, the level of carnage that is now being visited upon the people
of Gaza, many of whom, as you point out, you know, are children. And I note that you point out how unequal the death toll is.
MARTIN: And I have to ask about that. We know that somewhere between 1,200 -- perhaps 1,400 people who are on the Israeli side were killed in the
Hamas attacks. We know that around 200 people have been taken hostage. We don't know how many of them survive. And you also point out that 3,000
Palestinians have died in these attacks. But the numbers, I mean, is the -- is that really where this argument lies? Is that a moral argument?
KHALIDI: No, no. No, it's not a moral argument, obviously. I mean, any civilian death. I'm not talking about a combat death. Any civilian death is
a moral tragedy, obviously. But I think that numbers come in not as a moral question but simply there are ways of making war, which advanced
technological societies employ, which involve the killing of huge numbers of civilians who are never somehow counted in the calculus. Oh, that's
collateral damage. Oh, we didn't mean to do it.
If a pilot does it from 1,000 feet and kills 50 people or some somebody with a gun comes in and murders 50 people, there is a difference,
obviously. But, in the last analysis, if this is a violation of the rules of war, on the one hand, it's a violation of the rules of war, on the other
hand. If it violates our ethical and our moral standards, on the one hand, it does on the other.
I'm not suggesting that a higher death count means a higher morality, I'm simply saying, one kind of killing of civilians is only and only that kind
is called terrorism, and another kind of systematic killing of civilians with much higher death tolls is simply ignored.
MARTIN: I mean, is it honestly being ignored? You don't think -- or is it that you feel that the president and others representing the administration
have not sufficiently noted the cost?
KHALIDI: The language. This is terrorism. This is self-defense and security. I mean, the very language indicates this is morally abhorrent.
And if you don't say that it's morally abhorrent, you're not allowed to speak. And this, well, this is bad, but understandable, and we want to
limit it. That will not wash with me. If this is abhorrent, this is also abhorrent. This form of making war, which kills -- I mean, they've killed
hundreds of children.
Now, many children were killed in Israel. That's abhorrent. But isn't the killing of children in a certain kind of technological warfare also
important as an inevitable result? Dozens, hundreds are killed for every one supposed target that they're going after. And this is not new. This has
been happening in the case of Gaza for a very, very long time.
MARTIN: So, before I let you go, is there anything that gives you hope in the moment, that there will be a better day?
KHALIDI: It's a very grim, dark, bleak moment. And it's really hard to find any hope. I've seen shocks like this change opinions. I'm hoping that
a shock like this will change opinions about getting to the root of things and not just dealing with security situations.
Security situations emerge from deeper issues. Crime is not just crime. Crime is a deep social issue. Terrorism is not just terrorism, there's
issues there. And if we don't address them, we're condemned to go through this again and again and again, like a terrible nightmarish horror movie.
And I hope that we'll move away from that. I hope that people will understand they have -- everybody has to have equal rights. Everybody has
to have equal security. Israel's security, security of Israelis, but what about the security of Palestinians?
And I hope and pray that we can go in that direction, even though I think maybe what's just happened starting a week ago, Saturday, has made it a
little harder, perhaps.
MARTIN: Rashid Khalidi, thank you so much for speaking with us.
KHALIDI: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And finally, tonight, we want to play you some more of what President Biden said in Israel today. It was a warning. It was advice from
a friend about rage and where it could lead pointing to America's missteps after 9/11. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: You can't look at what has happened here to your mothers, your fathers, your grandparents, sons, daughters, children, even babies and not
scream out for justice. Justice must be done. But I caution this while you feel that rage, don't be consumed by it.
After 9/11, we were enraged in the United States. While we sought justice and got justice, we also made mistakes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Iraq, Libya, so many places. That's it for now. If you ever miss our show, you can find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our
podcast. Thanks for watching. Goodbye from London.