Return to Transcripts main page
Fareed Zakaria GPS
Iran's Response to the Israel-Hamas War; Israel's Strategy in Gaza; IDF: New Set of Israeli Hostages Released Today. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired November 26, 2023 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria coming to you live from New York.
We are going to get right into it this morning as we await the next release of hostages from Gaza. Israel and Hamas are now two days and 10 hours into their four-day truce. On Friday, 13 Israelis and 11 foreign nationals were released from captivity in Gaza. Yesterday after a long delay, another 13 Israelis and four foreigners were released. That brings the total to 26 Israelis and 15 foreigners who have been freed during the truce.
On the flipside of this arrangement, 39 Palestinians were released from Israeli prisons on Friday and 39 again on Saturday. Another major aspect of the deal was getting aid into Gaza. And hundreds of trucks filled with food, water, fuel, medical supplies and more have crossed into the territory since the truce began on Friday.
Let me bring in CNN's Oren Liebermann who is in Tel Aviv for us with the latest
Oren, I wanted to ask you, the truces previously over the years between Hamas and the Israeli government have often been fraught with difficulty. What was the delay yesterday and is that portentous? Does that tell us that this fragile truce might actually collapse?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So first let's look at where we stand today. We are expecting and anticipating that the movement and the transfer of Israeli hostages from the hands of Hamas to the Red Cross should or could begin sometime soon. It was two days ago in the first transfer of hostages that it had already begun. But as we know, yesterday was a very different story and that is where it was fraught with difficulties and at risk of falling apart.
So yesterday, Hamas complained that Israel was not living up to its side of the bargain. All of the aid trucks hadn't gotten in and crucially that they hadn't gotten to northern Gaza which Israel has still called an active war zone. That led to a massive, hours long delay, and fear amongst all the parties involved here, and not just Israel and Hamas, but also the Qataris and the Americans that the deal itself may fall apart. There was an intensive diplomatic effort there to make sure that
remained together. On the Israel side, Israel also accused Hamas of violating the terms of the agreement because there was a child released without a mother. And the agreement was to keep families together. So perhaps not surprising at all that we see accusations going back and forth of violating the terms of the agreement.
What is crucial, though, Fareed, is that the agreement held and the transfer happened. In addition, Hamas also released some foreign nationals for the second time tomorrow. Now we're waiting to see and so far it looks like it is moving forward again and we are waiting to see when the transfer once again begins of more Israeli hostages coming out of Gaza and then subsequently more Palestinian prisoners released from Israeli jails, women and children on both sides of that agreement.
We have no reason to believe at this point that today's transfer is at risk but we shall see, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: Oren, is there any indication as to whether there is a logic to the foreign nationals being released? Are they prioritizing Israelis, do Americans, you know, are they top priority at the bottom of the list, do we have any sense of this or is it sort of random?
LIEBERMANN: For what we could tell it is sort of random. For example, the youngest in captivity, 10-month-old Kfir Bibas and his family, remains in captivity. There were some who expected maybe they come out first simply based on age and the family comes out, that simply is not the case and that family whom we spoke with a short time ago says they've got no information at all that they'll be part of tonight's release.
Meanwhile the foreign nationals, at least as Hamas is trying to portray it, are essentially an extra. There is nothing in exchange for them. They're simply being released. They of course are not part of this conflict in any way, not part of this war. So they're being released on what appears to be a random basis, 10 Thais and a Filipino on the first night. Four more Thai nationals last night. So we'll see.
But even on the Israeli side, there doesn't appear to be any rhyme or reason to it. And then today to learn we're expecting our first American release.
There are at least two others we expect as part of the women and children. But there doesn't appear to be anyway to look at a list and say, OK, these people are coming out now until Hamas releases that list.
ZAKARIA: Oren Liebermann, thank you so much. Thanks for your great reporting.
I want to now bring in Amir Tibon. He is diplomatic correspondent for the Israeli newspaper "Haaretz." He was also a resident of one of the kibbutz's that was attacked on October 7th. The pictures you're seeing on your screen are Amir's house. He and his family spent 10 hours locked in their safe room during the attack only to be saved by Amir's father, a former IDF general. Amir believes that's today's release of hostages will include residents of his kibbutz, Nahal Oz.
Amir, pleasure to you have on. Let me first ask you, what does it feel like -- I know you're right there, because there must be a mixed feeling, some people are being released but others apparently will not be released from this kibbutz, right?
AMIR TIBON, DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT, HAARETZ: Hi, Fareed. Thank you so much for having me. Right now there is, first of all, a lot of anxiety and then suspense because we don't know what is going to happen. Last night there was supposed to be a release in the early evening hours here in Israel of 13 of our hostages from a neighboring community to ours. And eventually they only got out around 11:00 p.m. because Hamas pulled a list of dirty and vicious and really cruel tricks to try to delay and postpone and buy time.
And we want to see first and foremost that today's list of 13 people actually come out and get to meet their families. And we here in my community are expecting some news, but I don't want to say anything beyond that right now because everything is very, very delicate. I will just say we are as a community going through a very difficult period since October 7th. We're trying to hold one another or support one another, stay together, and this is what we're going to do today as well. Just be there for one another and hope for good news.
ZAKARIA: Amir, let me ask you, if I may, to put your hat on, you're a distinguished diplomatic correspondent, what is your sense of the prospects of this cease-fire being extended? There are people talking, we hear President Biden has said there is a chance. Do you think the Israeli government would accept that? It seems to me from the initial rhetoric, highly unlikely, because the Israeli government has said they want to get rid of Hamas and surely that has not yet been done.
TIBON: Fareed, Israel is facing an impossible dilemma at this moment. We have no good choices. We only have terrible choices in the current situation. On the one hand, even after the very, very exciting and wonderful releases of two groups of hostages last night and the night before, we still have approximately 200 people in the hands of the enemy, the vast majority of them are civilians including more women, more children, and our first priority is to get them out.
To bring them home after more than 50 days in the tunnels of Gaza, in the hands of ruthless terrorists. Some of the hostages, before they were kidnapped, their own family members were murdered before their eyes. So our first priority is to bring them back. And I do believe if there is a possibility to prolong the current cease-fire in return for the release of more hostages, Israel will be willing to discuss it.
I know President Biden is pushing for it. I know Secretary Blinken is working for it and other countries in the region, Qatar and Egypt. However, we should not be mistaken to think that a long-term cease- fire ending the war is in the cards right now. It is not. Israel has been fighting against Hamas now for 50 days. There has been a lot of achievements for the Israeli military in the northern part of Gaza but Hamas is still barricading itself in the southern part of the Gaza among the civilian population over there.
It still has capabilities there that left intact, will be used to slaughter Israeli citizens again in the future. So while I do see a chance for prolonging the cease-fire by a few more days to allow the release of more hostages I would not put my money right now on a long- term cease-fire as long as Hamas remains part of the picture.
ZAKARIA: And Amir, let me ask you, "Haaretz" is legendarily a, you know, kind of left of center publication, has been very supportive of a two-state solution, the peace process. My guess is the kibbutz that you're from is also probably more in that camp than Prime Minister Netanyahu's camp. How do you -- has this changed your view of the world? Just reflect if you will on what this has done for you politically and psychologically?
TIBON: I have to say, Fareed, as a resident of Kibbutz Nahal Oz for several years before October 7th, I never had any illusions about Hamas. And neither did my neighbors. We chose to live in this community directly on the border and face the threat of more terror attacks and rocket attacks, and you know, Fareed, in Kibbutz Nahal Oz and other border communities, there is no Iron Dome.
We are so close to Gaza that Iron Dome does not protect us. So we never had any illusions about Hamas. We knew every day that there were people on the other side of the border who wanted to murder us. And I think from my point of view, what maybe has changed is the question of how much support does Hamas have among civilian population. Because more than the Hamas terrorists will enter our community on that morning and murdered 14 people and tried to murder me and my family, I think the more shocking issue was the fact that later civilians from Gaza came in and looted homes and some of them took part in terrible violent, barbaric actions.
That is the real question that we must present to ourselves. And I think in general in Israel today, anybody who is not doing some self- reflection is -- didn't get the memo. This is true for people who are talking about long-term peace with Gaza and it's just as true for supporters of the prime minister who for 15 years have this idea of working with Hamas hand in hand and building Hamas as an alternative to the Palestinian Authority, and supporting the Qatari payments of cash money to Hamas.
We all have now a moment in this country where we need to look back at mistakes of the past, reflect on where we have been wrong. It's true, I can tell you for me personally, sadly, while I do see this process in my own environment, I have not seen it at all right now from the political leadership of the country which is still stuck in October 6th and did not understand perhaps what has changed.
ZAKARIA: Amir Tibon, thank you so much. I know it's a busy and complicated day for you. And we are very grateful that you took the time.
Next on GPS, we'll look at the other releases during the truce. Palestinians from Israeli prisons. These releases are highly charged on both sides of the border wall. Find out why when we come back.
ZAKARIA: Yahya Sinwar, the head of the Hamas in Gaza and the alleged mastermind of the October 7th attack, spent some two decades in Israeli prisons. He was released in 2011 in an extraordinary swap with Israel. At the time Israel traded more than 1,000 Palestinians for just one Israeli. A soldier named Gilad Shalit.
So the release of Palestinians from Israeli detention is a sensitive subject for Israelis and an equally charged one for Palestinians. The head of the Palestinian Commission for Detainees and Ex-Prisoners' Affairs told CNN that some 8,300 Palestinians are being held in Israeli jails and that more than 3,000 of them are being held under what Israel calls administrative detention. The Palestinians said this means they are being held without knowing the charges against them and without any ongoing legal process.
CNN's Nada Bashir joins me now from Jerusalem with more.
Nada, explain what that means. The Palestinians point to these prisoners as a kind of proof of the very dual system that they live under in places like the West Bank and Gaza. Explain who these people are who are being released.
NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Fareed, and we have seen this issue of many Palestinians in the occupied the West Bank, and particularly teenagers, children under the age of 18, being detained often for months on end, sometimes even longer without any knowledge of what they are being charged with, without access to legal representation, without an ongoing legal process. That is the system termed as administrative detention.
As we have seen over the last two days, many of those people released including many teenage boys under the age of 18, many of them between ages of 16 and 18 rather, had been held for months under administrative detention, unclear what charges they have faced. And of course this has been an issue long before October 7th. And this continues to be an issue. We are still seeing the arrest and detention of Palestinians particularly in the occupied West Bank.
Now as we understand it, some 150 people, Palestinians, will be released as part of this exchange agreement, as part of that truce agreement between Israel and Hamas. And earlier in the week we saw a list issued by Israeli authorities, a list of 300 names of women and children who would be eligible for possible release as part of this agreement. Many of them in that list under administrative detention.
Of course, the Israeli authorities say some of those on that list were charged with more serious offenses including the possession of weapons, including threatening regional security, some associated with terrorist activities according to the Israeli authorities. But amongst those charges, in that list, one of the most common was throwing stones at Israeli soldiers and risking regional security. That is of course something that we have seen over the last two days
in terms of the people that are being released. We've seen those crowds swelling around the occupied West Bank particularly on Ramallah to welcome the release of these detainees and prisoners. Yesterday we saw some 33 teenage boys being released. A majority of them again were held under administrative detention. Many of them said that they had no idea until the early hours of yesterday morning that they would be amongst those released.
And you can imagine the relief of many of those family now waiting to hear today if they will see their loved ones released on this third day of that truce.
ZAKARIA: Thank you so much, Nada. Pleasure to hear you.
Joining me now is Shibley Telhami. He's the Anwar Sadat professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland. He's also a senior fellow at Brookings.
Shibley, welcome. Tell us how this is playing in the Arab world. You're a scholar of the Arab world, you studied public opinion there for decades. The conventional wisdom had been for a while that, you know, while Arab leaders mouth support for this, while even Arab street gets riled up, people don't really care. It's an issue that, you know, look at Gulf Arabs making peace with Israel. What is going on now? What are you sensing?
SHIBLEY TELHAMI, PROFESSOR FOR PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: Well, first of all, good to join you again, Fareed. And it is nice to see some of the hostages come home. I feel happy for the Israeli families who have loved ones and for the Palestinian families who rejoined with their loved ones.
Let me just, if you don't mind, just briefly address the prisoner issue because this is the issue of the day and I'll then talk about how that plays out in the Arab world. The reason for it is that this prisoner issue, obviously it's very, very dear to the Israelis. You can see how happy they are with the release of some of the hostages, and hopefully all of them will be released. But this issue is so critical to Palestinians and Arabs probably for three reasons.
The one reason is the scale of it. You know, since the occupation started, it's estimated that a million Palestinians -- remember, this is a population of five million people with respect to Gaza. A million Palestinians have been held, many of them as your reporter had suggested without charges. There isn't a family that is not touched by that. So the scale of it is enormous. It's very difficult.
The second is what you alluded to, the second -- the two-tiered system in the West Bank where obviously Palestinians are under occupation. Those who can be arrested by the military without charges are on -- called terrorists, some of them may have carried out a thing that would matched a terrorist label based on international definition of attacking civilians, and many of them don't. Sometimes it's just speech.
Almost 100 percent conviction rate in military courts. Right next door you have Israeli settlers, Israeli settlers who are living there illegally under international law, but if they commit a crime against Palestinians, they're rarely charged even when there is a death of a Palestinian and certainly convicted. So you have that tiered system that rubs deeply into the situation.
The third one is that this idea of what violence is. We think of violence particularly in the West, when you're thinking about let's reduce violence, let's make sure it doesn't erupt, we're thinking about, you know, explosions and shootings. Obviously those are horrible like we've seen and they ought to stop. But the reality of the every day, the reality of occupation, the fact that you can have a military going into somebody's home at 4:00 in the morning and arrest them without recourse, that is a violent act.
So the gun is always present for a lifetime for most Palestinians even when the gun is not fired, it's always there. It's always -- occupation is a violent reality. That is the reality of everyday life for most Palestinians, and when things go back to normal, there is no normal. Normal is violence. Normal is a violent -- subtle violence, but violence nonetheless. But in the Arab world, this issue obviously resonates.
What we have seen certainly in the public opinion polling, we haven't really seen new public opinion polling, but before, obviously, the Palestinian issue resonated with Arab publics but not so much with governments, and governments have not paid much attention to it. They thought the publics don't care as much about it. But this particular episode, I think, has not only resonated in the Arab world, it has probably created a transformative paradigm forming moment.
This is not simply a moment of anger. This is a moment I think where the shaping of an entire -- the opinion of an entire new generation is likely lost, and it's implicating the U.S. in a direct way with the possibilities, and I hope not, but the possibilities of blowback because they see the scale of that (INAUDIBLE), the equivalent of more than 200 nuclear devices over a period of a month and a half in a very small area with thousands of children killed over a million and a half displaced. They can't understand how the U.S. would be OK with that.
And so, yes, I think this has generated tremendous transformation of public opinion. Now obviously it doesn't shift the strategic interest of the Arab states. That remains to be seen. But I think it obviously will restrain what Arab governments can do.
ZAKARIA: Do you think there's a possibility that a place like Bahrain, for example, which has a, you know, a large Shia population, may decide that it has to suspend the Abraham Accords? Do you think that Saudi Arabia will delay normalization for indefinitely?
TELHAMI: It's really impossible to know, Fareed. Let me tell you why. I think we all kind of say, well, let's wait until this war is over. I'm not sure what that means honestly, whether this war, quote, "will be over." I'm not sure what destroying Hamas means other than destroying all of Gaza. I'm not sure whether there is going to be a moment we'll say this is a moment of opportunity. I think there is goals that had been set here that cannot really be met. And, you know, particularly by the United States, not just the Israelis.
Now the Israelis, you can understand, you know, when you have a horrific attack like the one by Hamas, hearts harden and Palestinian hearts harden when they watch what the Israelis are doing. You have an urge for vengeance. You have demonization. You want to do the maximum damage to the other. That's understandable. But what I can't really understand is how our own government, the United States government, has given a blank check in a matter that impacts our own national interest. Not only with blowback, but the possibility of escalation. And so I think --
ZAKARIA: Shibley, I have to let it -- I have to let it rest there. We are out of time. I really thank you and we will of course have you back for your insights. Pleasure to have you on.
Next on GPS, we will go even bigger picture and try to put the entire war in perspective. Richard Haass and Robin Wright join me to give us their wisdom.
ZAKARIA: I want to pull back now with two guests who will help us think about the bigger picture of this truce, the war and the politics of the region. Richard Haass is a former top state department official and the president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. Robin Wright is a contributing writer at the "New Yorker," a distinguished fellow at the Wilson Center, and has covered the region for decades.
Robin, let me start with you. You know Iran so well. And the thing that I've been struck by in all of this, you know, sometimes as Sherlock Holmes said, you have to pay attention to the dog that doesn't bark. Iran has been very restrained. Hezbollah has been fairly restrained. Nasrallah's speech basically said, we wish you well, but don't expect too much help from us. What do you think the calculation is there?
ROBIN WRIGHT, CONTRIBUTING WRITER AND COLUMNIST, NEW YORKER: This is Hamas' war and from the beginning both Hezbollah and Iran have indicated that they are not going to get engaged. If this had been a joint operation, Hezbollah has far more weaponry, several times the size of Hamas arsenal. It would have been catastrophic for Israel.
And it's very interesting that Hamas kept this apparently so within its own leadership in terms of when they were going to do what they were going to do specifically, that it didn't share even with some of its own leadership outside the country. This is not a good moment for Iran to engage in a war given its own problems at home with protests. It has its own election next year. Hezbollah also is in a very different state than it was in 2006 when it launched an operation against Israel that led to a 34-day war, now the second longest war that Israel has fought. Lebanon is a failing state. Hezbollah is a major political player. It needs -- it has to care about its constituency and is also at a point that it doesn't have any guarantees that Iran would be there to rearm, restock, and rebuild Lebanon.
So, at the moment, barring unintended consequences or a wild card event it looks like they are not going to provide the kind of help that Hamas had hoped once it launched its offensive that both would intervene and make it a broader region-wide war.
ZAKARIA: Richard, what are your thoughts on Iran's role here? Because it does also suggest that Hamas is a little bit more independent of Iran than people had made out. You know, it has always been true that Hezbollah, a Shiite organization that swears fealty to the supreme leader of Iran, is very different from Hamas which is a Sunni organization that actually supported -- Hamas and Iran went the opposite sides of the Syrian civil war.
So, does it suggest there is more distance? How do you read what is going on?
RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT EMERITUS, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: I agree, Fareed, with both what you said and what Robin said. I think one has to distinguish between Iran's strategic support for Hamas and its tactical support. And the latter seems to have been missing in the case of this raid.
For all we know, Hamas was worried that if it ran this idea by Iran, it would have been vetoed. This was very much Hamas' -- October 7th was very much for Hamas to basically say, their version of station identification, we are the only force in the Palestinian world willing and able to take on Israel.
Iran also has all sorts of economic problems right now. They're exporting roughly 2 million barrels of oil a day, not clear to me they want to see that interrupted, neither does China, its principal -- the country that gets most of the Iran's exported oil. So, yes -- but I take your point. I think this suggest that we use the phrase proxy a little bit too loosely and there is a degree of autonomy, I wouldn't call it independence, but a degree of autonomy particularly when it comes to tactical decisions.
ZAKARIA: Robin, what are your thoughts on this issue of the possibility of this spreading in different ways? Is there -- are there other actors in the region who you think could get in? People have talked about, you know, the Houthis in Yemen and -- but it feels to me what we are seeing is a fairly classic contained Israeli-Palestinian war.
WRIGHT: So far contained. But what we are seeing is some of Iran's proxies like the Houthis in Yemen, some of the proxies in Iraq and Syria taking on -- in one case, Houthi is taking on Israel or in one case the U.S. But what is more important is Iran's proxies are taking on Americans who are fighting in a different war. Those Americans, 900 in Syria, 2,500 in Iraq, who are still deployed there as part of the anti-ISIS campaign to try to make sure that ISIS does not make a comeback, can't rebuild the caliphate and challenge the governments in Iraq or in Syria.
So, this is -- it is very interesting how Iran is gaming this. Very shrewdly, tactically taking on the American presence in the Middle East more broadly to try to suggest the cost of deploying. Now, the one great danger down the road is that the United States is deploying. And 2000 troops, we're not sure where, probably some in Jordan but the United States is not giving us full disclosure as well as warships.
And the great danger is that the United States is there to flex its muscles and to say, don't widen this war, but at same time become targets for extremist groups even lone wolves. And that is one of those wild cards that who knows what the unintended consequences of that kind of action might be.
ZAKARIA: Stay with us. When we come back, I'm going to ask Richard Haass about Bibi Netanyahu's lousy options and Joe Biden's lousy options, ask him what he would do if he were in either one's shoes.
ZAKARIA: We are back with Richard Haass and Robin Wright. Richard, let me ask you about Bibi Netanyahu. Does he have the right military strategy right now? And does he have the right political strategy? I must confess, the latter I'm not even sure he's articulated. But I wanted to know what you think is going on.
HAASS: He has a military strategy, I would argue, and so with all of the generals I've talked to say it is the wrong one. He doesn't have the wrong political strategy, Fareed. He doesn't have a political strategy.
I think in the short run he needs to focus on getting the hostages back. That is clearly the priority for the Israeli public. If and when he returns to military operations, it has got to be far, far more granular and discrete. It can't be these large campaigns dropping large bombs that are killing large numbers of civilians. It is just the wrong way to go about it.
It is losing American and international opinion, it is alienating Palestinians, it a great recruiting tool for Hamas and other radical groups. And at some point, he has got to introduce a political dimension. You can't have simply a military effort against Hamas, you got to have a political alternative.
You have got to be able to say to Palestinians, look, violence is a dead end. You will never get what you want politically through violence. But there is an alternative better way. There is a way through compromise and coexistence with Israel. Bibi has to introduce that. That's where, by the way, Fareed, where I think President Biden could come in. I've been advocating that the president go to Jerusalem again, speak from the Knesset over the head of this prime minister and government, go to the Israeli people, make the case for a two-state solution. And he might want to make one stop on the way and that is to resurrect the Saudi initiative.
As you and Robin both know, one of the reasons that Hamas started this war on October 7th was to derail normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel. I think the time has come to put that back on the table. Basically, trigger a debate within Israel, look, Israel, you have a choice. A greater Israel with all of your settlements, not giving the Palestinians a state of their, or a greater peace, including a peace with a country, Saudi Arabia, that is pivotal in the Arab and Islamic world?
So, I think the United States with Saudi Arabia as a partner can introduce the political track that this government under Bibi Netanyahu is sorely and conspicuously lacking.
ZAKARIA: Richard, you know Israel well. They are traumatized and -- I think the Israeli argument would be, look, we tried peace. You know, Barak made an offer to Arafat. He turned it down. Olmert made an offer to Abu Mazen. He turned it down. We -- you know, we are stuck with these lousy options because we don't have a partner. How do you break that log jam?
HAASS: Look, people are right to be suspicious. I've been involved in many of those unsuccessful attempts myself. One is to very much make it an Arab world not as an alternative to the Palestinians but with them. Too much in the past we've worked with the Palestinians alone historically, Fareed, say under the Clinton administration. More recently with the Abraham Accords, we've only worked with the Arab world, with the governments.
I actually think we need to do the two together. And look, I understand the Israeli trauma. We're not talking about sharing neighborhoods. We're talking about separation. One of the reasons to have a Palestinian state in the West Bank and in Gaza is not to co- mingle, it's to separate, to come up with terms of separation.
The Palestinians can realize some of their aspirations or realize them separately. Any sort of coexistence of normalization may never happen. Or if it were to happen would happen far down the road.
So, this is not naivete. This is not asking people to forget about October 7th or decades of differences and violence, it is a way to basically preserve Israel as a secure, Jewish, democratic prosperous state. Right now, all of that has been put at risk.
This is not -- you know, what I'm talking about, is not simply a favor, or call it what you will, a gift to Palestinians, this is a gift Israelis can and should and must make themselves. ZAKARIA: Robin, I want to pick up on something Shibley talked about which is the images that were coming out of Israel -- out of Gaza and the blowback to the United States. You know the region well. Do you think this is real? Is it something the United States should worry about?
WRIGHT: The United States should worry very much about what the attitude is across the Arab world given the fact that the Abraham Accords were the kind of groundwork of both Republican and Democratic administrations to expand Arab-Israeli relations in part because they share a concern about the future with Iran in the region.
But I think that to Richard's point the goal is clearly by the Biden administration to try to get the peace process back on track. The danger is that with every war Israel turns further to the right. And that doesn't necessarily mean that Bibi Netanyahu stays around but it does mean that peace is more difficult for Israelis to traumatize Israelis.
I fear that we're further away from a revived peace process at any time since 1993, 30 years since the Oslo Accords. And that the danger is that all of the sides have very different goals. Hamas to destroy Israel, Israel to destroy Hamas, the United States hopes for a two- state solution that neither side is willing to discuss.
And I think that the Israel-Saudi peace process or rapprochement was much further away I've been told by people in the White House then was widely assumed. Yes, it was on the table. Yes, there was interest, but there were an awful lot of specific details including the fact that the United States was asked by the Saudis to provide basically the same kind of protection that it does with its NATO allies including a nuclear umbrella. And that is a very controversial idea in the United States.
So, this war has now entered American politics. It may play out in the election year. And remember, presidents Reagan and Carter both were traumatized by hostage ordeals that affected their presidencies.
ZAKARIA: Robin Wright, thank you so much as always. Richard, if you will stay with me, I want to talk about Ukraine, the war that is -- the other war that is going on that we really do have to get to.
I also want to mention that Israeli president Isaac Herzog will join Wolf Blitzer for an exclusive interview today on "INSIDE POLITICS." That's the next show up here on CNN at 11:00 a.m.
ZAKARIA: This just into CNN, the Israeli Defense Forces say that the Red Cross has received a handover of 17 Israeli and foreign hostages who were released from captivity in Gaza.
We are back with Richard Haass. Richard, I want to just take you briefly to the other war that is ongoing in a brutal stalemate right now in Ukraine. And it feels to me like you have an important foreign affairs article, you're saying something similar to what you were just saying about U.S. strategy toward Israel.
U.S. strategy toward Ukraine, you were saying, is publicly 100 percent supportive, but privately we're very worried about where things are going. Why don't you set out what your concern is and where you want a kind of fairly substantial course correction?
HAASS: Yes, look, the idea is that Ukraine is on a course hopefully to liberate the 20 percent of its territory there that Russia occupies. The problem, Fareed, is there is very little if any evidence that it is going to be able to achieve that. And I worry that Western, American, European support for Ukraine will begin to fade. It is already happening.
I worry about the cost to Ukraine. So, I am arguing that it's like Ukraine ought to switch its strategy, not give up on its long-term goals of getting back what's rightfully theirs, but to focus on defending what it has, on the 80 percent, making sure Russia cannot succeed in eliminating Ukraine, which is what has set out to do nearly two years ago.
This will allow Ukraine to rebuild. It would reduce the defense requirements from the United States and Europe. So, I actually think it needs to recast its military strategy. And I'd make a larger point, Fareed, something you understand as well as anybody, any time in foreign policy there is a gap between your means and your ends, you run into trouble, the ends are laudable. They're just too ambitious right now.
So, I think Ukraine has to dial back and the United States, just like we need to have some difficult conversations with Israel about what it is doing or not doing militarily and politically, I think the time has come for the United States to have some awkward but necessary conversations with Ukraine to basically say, we want you to survive, let's recast your strategy, we will give you security assurances but we have to put on the back burner your long-term goal of getting back all of your territory.
ZAKARIA: Very briefly, Richard, the one problem I sense in reading that article is Ukraine is not really viable right now as an economic entity without the ability to export its grain out of Odessa. You know, exporting by seas is much cheaper than by land. Shouldn't they fight at least to get control of Odessa?
HAASS: Well, I have no problem with that and that could be the stipulation that that would be the point you have to get to and then you would park it there. That would be the interim arrangement, Fareed. That would make Ukraine economically viable, militarily secure, and that would become a plateau. Not a permanent outcome but a plateau until perhaps they have a different leadership in Russia that is tired about Russia being a pariah and being the target of economic sanction. ZAKARIA: Words of wisdom as always, Richard. Thank you. Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.