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Fareed Zakaria GPS

Interview with Israeli Historian and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Professor Emeritus Benny Morris; Interview with Former Palestinian Negotiator in Peace Talks with Israel, Middle East Scholar at Oxford University and Former Adviser to Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas Ahmad Khalid; Interview with Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel and Harvard's Belfer Center Senior Fellow Edward Djerejian. Aired 10- 11a ET

Aired December 24, 2023 - 10:00   ET




FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: September 13, 1993.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Piece of paper, two signatures today. Seen as the beginning of the end of decades of hatred, wars, and vengeance between Arabs and Jews.


ZAKARIA: A day that could have led to the unthinkable. Peace in the Middle East. Israel and the Palestinians sign a fact on the White House lawn.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Supporters of the declaration are dancing in the streets of that West Bank town of Jericho at this hour.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reality changed today in the Middle East.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Enough of blood and tears. Enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The comprehensive peace in the Middle East happening now in Jerusalem. The scenes that took place in Washington are being replayed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go in peace. Go as peacemakers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


ZAKARIA: Thirty years and one month later, an unthinkable day. An all-out massacre on Israeli soil, perpetrated by Hamas.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: War erupts in the Middle East.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The attack catching Israel by surprise at sunrise.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rockets poured into major cities in Israel, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a shocking and unprecedented escalation in the region's long history of conflict.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Babies slaughtered, entire families massacred. Mosque unleashing pure, unadulterated evil upon the world.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Israel is firing back at Hamas with strikes on cities in Gaza after the state's terrorist attack.


ZAKARIA: We're all left with a crucial question to ponder. How did we get from here --


BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Let us all go from this place to celebrate the dawn of a new era.


ZAKARIA: -- to hear?


TAPPER: Intense fighting is still underway.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have just had a massive barrage of rockets coming in here.


ZAKARIA: To help us understand, I'm going to talk to historians on both sides of the divide, and a former U.S. ambassador to Israel who has been involved in Middle East diplomacy since the administration of John F. Kennedy.

Welcome to this Fareed Zakaria GPS Special, The Road to War in the Middle East.

Now, we could take you back thousands of years, but in this special we will start our focus with the closest, the two sides ever got to peace since the founding of Israel.

Briefly, it bears mentioning that the first steps towards Israel's statehood began in 1947. When in the wake of the Holocaust that saw some 6 million Jews murdered, the United Nations voted to split the British Mandate of Palestine into two, one Jewish State and one Arab State.

At this point, the population of Palestine was about a third Jewish. The Jews in Palestine accepted the plan, but the Arabs rejected it. Nevertheless, the British pulled out, and on May 14, 1948, David Ben- Gurion proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel.


A mere day later, the new nation's neighbors declared war. And Israel has been in a state of war or under the threat of it ever since, while the Palestinians have remained in limbo. But that sunny day in 1993, September 13th, brought the first real hope for peace.

President Bill Clinton had convened Israeli and Palestinian leaders on the White House lawn to make a major step toward that peace, to sign the so-called Oslo Accords.

The documents signed that day and in the days leading up said that the Palestine Liberation Organization recognized Israel's right to exist. That Israel recognized the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian people. That Israel would pull out of much of the Palestinian territories after occupying and controlling them starting in 1967. And that the PLO renounced violence. The parties were exchanging land for peace.

After the signing, the world watched stunned as PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat reached out his hand to Israel's Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and stunned again when Rabin reached his hand out in return.

Let's pick up the story there with two great observers of the politics of the region. I spoke to Ahmad Khalidi, who was deeply involved in the peace process for the Palestinians, and is currently a scholar at Oxford.

But first up, Benny Morris, an eminent Israeli historian, who has written extensively about the Middle East peace process.


ZAKARIA: Rabin looked to be very reluctant. Explain that.

BENNY MORRIS, ISRAELI HISTORIAN AND PROFESSOR EMERITUS, BEN-GURION UNIVERSITY OF THE NEGEV: Look, Rabin had been a soldier for many years. He was the chief of staff of the Israeli Army. He had been fighting Palestinian terrorists for a long time and regarded Arafat as a terrorist. He didn't think -- he didn't really believe, I think, in his heart that Arafat would change into a statesman from a terrorist, but he wanted to give it a chance, I think. And so, he reached this agreement with the man.

ZAKARIA: Was it difficult for Arafat to get there? Talk about what he had to do to get there and shake hands with Rabin.

AHMAD KHALIDI, FORMER PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR IN PEACE TALKS WITH ISRAEL, MIDDLE EAST SCHOLAR AT OXFORD UNIVERSITY AND FORMER ADVISER TO YASSER ARAFAT AND MAHMOUD ABBAS: Arafat had to do an awful, awful lot. And I think one of the misconceptions of this whole period is the degree to which Arafat was determined to try and reach a peace agreement with the Israelis.

This started in 1988 at the Palestine Liberation Organization's -- Palestine National Council, which is the highest body within the PLO, which took a decision which was the basis of what we call today the two-state solution. It was a decision to accept a Palestinian State on the areas occupied in 1967 in East Jerusalem the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.

Oslo was not particularly popular amongst the Palestinians. On the ground, in the West Bank, it was very well received. But amongst the Palestinians as a whole, the imbalance was evident. The Israelis were not offering a state. The Israelis in Oslo were not offering a state. The Israelis were simply offering an interim period.

In the Israeli concept of Oslo, everything was reversible. On the Palestinian side, it was seen as irreversible. And that was a fundamental difference in the way that both sides saw Oslo.

MORRIS: There was great distrust, especially on, I think -- well, I think it's true about both of them. Arafat and Rabin distrusted the other side. They felt that the other side was cheating. The Jews were busy talking peace and moving slowly towards peace, but at the same time, they were building settlements. The Arabs were talking peace, but at the same time, they were busy murdering Jews in buses and restaurants. So, there was great mistrust.

And don't forget that Arafat had been a terrorist for most of his life. His -- the charter of his movement, the Fatah, called for Israel's destruction. And Rabin himself simply didn't trust these people.

MORRIS: Now, the Oslo Agreement was essentially asymmetrical. The PLO got formal Israeli recognition of its role as interlocutor. The Israelis got PLO recognition of Israel's right to peace -- to live in peace and security. So, whereas the Israelis got a very significant political prize, the PLO got a formal procedural agreement in terms of representation. So, the asymmetry there reflected, of course, the balance of power.

KHALIDI: The Oslo Accords meant that Israel would withdraw from the cities of the West Bank and from the Gaza Strip, pull out its troops, and allow Arafat and his PLO units, who had been living and training in Tunis and other places, to come into the West Bank and to come to the Gaza Strip and basically take sort of administrative control of the main towns of the West Bank and of the Gaza Strip on the whole.


And then -- so, there was sort of side by side during those interim years in the '90s, an autonomous Palestinian Authority governing the cities of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip side by side with Israeli military government, which was in charge of security for the whole of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It was an uneasy arrangement. MORRIS: In February, 1994, very soon, after the Oslo agreement was signed and began implementation, there was the massacre at the Abrahamic Mosque in Hebron, where an IDF officer belonging to an extreme right-wing Israeli religious group mowed down 30 Muslim Muslims at prayer in the mosque.

And then, the subsequent protest, the Israeli army killed another 30 changing completely both the atmosphere and -- and this is very important, I think -- beginning the process in which the Oslo agreement was interrupted by significant violence on the Palestinian side. Hamas took upon itself to respond to the Hebron massacre with a series of suicide bombings.


ZAKARIA: Next, we will pick up the story at a major turning point, one that threatened the very existence of the peace process, the assassination of Israel's Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin. Did it indeed end the hopes for a lasting peace? We'll be back with two sets of answers in a moment.



ZAKARIA: On November 4, 1995, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin spoke at a peace rally in Tel Aviv. The man who had shaken Yasser Arafat's hand on the White House lawn hailed his partners in peace among the Palestinians. He declared that peace is the true desire of the Jewish people. But prophetically, he warned of threats from enemies to the peace process.

As he was leaving the rally, Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli Jewish extremist who did not believe in peace with the Palestinians. I asked my two guests, the scholars Ahmed Khalidi and Benny Morris, how Rabin's death affected the peace process.


ZAKARIA: Did Rabin's assassination kill Oslo, if -- finally?

KHALIDI: Very hard to tell. We can never tell what the counterfactual would have been or -- it's very unclear to me exactly what Rabin had in mind. I don't think he was committed to the idea of a Palestinian independent state, and certainly not one in the whole of the occupied territories.

Nonetheless. the very beginnings, the very glimmerings of some kind of understanding on -- between him and Arafat had begun to emerge. I think the turning point in Hebron was a very important one, at the point of the Hebron massacre. Had the Israeli government, with Yitzhak Rabin at the head, taken a decision to vacate the Israeli settlers from the heart of Hebron, because these were the hardcore, the very hardcore settlers of which the person who committed the act in the Abrahamic Mosque came from, had they removed them, I think the whole course of the interaction between the Palestinians and the Israelis would have changed.

But Rabin did not. And the settlers were not removed and the message came to the Palestinians, I think that the Israelis, there's nothing that's going to budge them from the positions that they had taken.

ZAKARIA: So, Rabin gets assassinated. His successor is Shimon Peres, who seems determined to continue what Rabin had been trying to do. And Rabin had been trying to reach out to Syria. He had been trying -- he had already made peace with Jordan. What happens right after Rabin's death? And does Pares try to take the lead?

MORRIS: Yes. After Rabin's assassination, it seemed that his successor, Shimon Peres, who incidentally had been the man who had been pushing for peace in the Rabin government and pushing Rabin towards peacemaking, he succeeded Rabin, and it seemed that he was set on the course to win the elections. But then, a wave of Hamas terrorism pushed the Israelis rightwards.

ZAKARIA: What about the Hamas suicide bombings after Rabin's death? How much did they, how much did all that derail the direction that things were going in?

KHALIDI: Well, the truth is that for six months, from summer until the end of 1995, Hamas had stopped its suicide bombings. They only started again when the Israelis decided at the spur -- on the spur of the moment Shimon Peres, then prime minister, who'd succeeded Rabin, decided to kill the senior military leader of Hamas, at that time called Yahya Ayyash which then sparked another wave of suicide bombings. The suicide bombings helped to bring Peres down.

MORRIS: And eventually, Benjamin Netanyahu won the election by a slim majority, but he won the election basically on this wave of anti- Zionist, anti-Israeli terrorism by Arabs. Once Netanyahu was installed, it was clear that he would not move further towards peace. He rejected the idea of a two-state solution. And the peace process got stuck for three years, from 1996, when he was elected, until 1999, when he was thrown out by the public.


ZAKARIA: He will claim that he actually implemented parts of the Oslo Accords. He gave back Hebron and things like that. So, talk about Bibi's for those years. Bibi and Oslo.

MORRIS: Well, Netanyahu was both a right-winger and a pragmatist, and he -- I think he was pressured by the American government to sign an additional small segment of a treaty in which he basically withdrew the Jewish troops from most of the town of Hebron. It was the last major town not controlled by the PLO, by the -- what was called then the Palestinian Authority.

But he was very reluctant in doing this and basically vowed that he would not return the West Bank to the Palestinians. He encouraged new settlements and did not move towards a two-state solution, which is one of the reasons he was voted out of power in 1999. Even though the demographics were in his favor, many people didn't like his mismanagement. He was a tyro in government. It was his first term in office. So, he wasn't really suited to be a prime minister.


ZAKARIA: Next, we'll go to Netanyahu's political successor, Ehud Barak, and his risky one-time gambit for peace at Camp David, when we come back.



ZAKARIA: In May 1999, the highly decorated former Israeli general, Ehud Barak, was elected prime minister in a landslide. In an emotionally charged speech to his followers at Rabin Square, Barak paid tribute to his late mentor, Yitzhak Rabin, and vowed to carry on his legacy. He said, I tell you that the time for peace has come, not peace through weakness, but peace through might and a sense of security, not peace at the expense of security, but peace that will bring security.

It was a moment of optimism for those who hoped for a two-state solution, Israelis and Palestinians alike. But if a resolution was to be reached, Barak wanted it speedily. He pushed for quick rounds of negotiation, followed by a onetime summit with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and U.S. President Bill Clinton at Camp David in July 2000.

More now with the Israeli historian, Benny Morris and the Palestinian scholar, Ahmed Khalidi.


ZAKARIA: Why did Ehud Barak win 99?

MORRIS: Yes. I think Ehud Barak, who was also a chief of the general staff in his younger days, so had a lot of credit in the Israeli public as a hardline militant, et cetera. But Barak was elected basically on a pragmatic peace platform. He said, look, we can't go on like this with the Palestinians. We have to reach a final settlement.

Barak said, let's finish this. Let's decide. Let's meet the Palestinians. Let's talk to them. Let's negotiate the future of Jerusalem, the refugee problem, Israel's borders, Palestinian statehood. Let's put it on the table and see if we can reach a peace agreement.

And when he did put it on the table, and he was invited along with Arafat to Camp David in 2000, these things were put on the table and Arafat basically said, no.

ZAKARIA: Camp David. The big -- you know, as you know, this is the totemic moment. According to so many versions of it, Barak offers Arafat a serious plan for peace, a serious plan for a two-state solution. Arafat walks away and launches the second intifada. Tell me your version of what happened at Camp David.

KHALIDI: In the summer of 2000, Barak decided that the only way to do this was to create a pressure cooker situation where Arafat would be put in a position where it was either yes or no, and if he said no, he would be seen as the villain.

Now, you're talking about, at that point, a conflict that was 75 years old in which no final status agreement had -- or any kind of -- none of the issues of final status. Final status agreement was set out in Oslo. It included borders, settlements, Jerusalem, security as the main -- these were the main items -- and water. These were the main items that they had to decide on in the so-called Final States Agreement.

He didn't want to, in his opinion, waste political capital on small steps. The consequence of that, of course, was to add to the Palestinian suspicions about what he actually was up to. And instead, he wanted to solve the 75-year-old conflict in one go, in one pressure cooker, in a short period of time.

And from Arafat's point of view, he's being put in the position of take it or leave it. He was also told by Clinton, by the way, two things. He was told, first, there'd be no finger pointing if the summit failed, and, second, that the interim steps that Barak had already agreed on would be fulfilled even if the summit failed. Neither of these promises came true.


ZAKARIA: And Barak's demise and the left's demise in effect in 2001 in the elections in which the public saw that the Palestinians do not want peace. So, they understood from the outbreak of the second intifada, which followed Arafat's rejection of the peace proposals, the public voted Barak out of office and right-wing governments basically followed.


ZAKARIA: Why launch the second intifada instead of continuing the negotiations?


KHALIDI: Well, that's exactly what Arafat wanted. Arafat saw Camp David as the beginning, Not the end. A beginning of a process of negotiation. The violence that erupted at the end of the intifada was provoked directly by Ariel Sharon, then leader of the Israeli opposition, right-wing opposition, who decided, after everything that had happened, after all the tension that emerged out of Camp David, that this was the time for him, a secular Israeli, a secular nationalist Israeli, to show his piousness by doing what no Israeli minister had done so far, which was to visit the Temple Mount, to go on Temple Mount al-Aqsa, which provoked a series of protests, which the Israelis responded to with extreme violence and which lit the fuse of a conflict that went on for two or three years afterwards, in which thousands of Palestinians were killed and a series suicide bombings took place.

MORRIS: The second intifada which erupted in 2000 was basically a terrorist intifada in which people play -- people both from the Fatah and from the Hamas placed bombs inside Israel almost daily, killing thousands of Israelis by the end of it. And terrorizing the Israeli population, which basically drove the Israeli population rightwards. It made them believe that the Palestinians are not serious about a peacemaking basically their hearts are with the Hamas. And this incidentally was a reinforced by the Hamas is a victory in the only general elections, the Palestinian ever held in 2006.

ZAKARIA: 2008, Olmert or made offers another peace deal. Was that another example of a serious offer?

MORRIS: I believe so. I think Olmert, who had grown up a right-winger but gradually moved leftwards, it was by the mid-2000s, a peacenik. And he became prime minister and put on the table a new peace proposal, which is essentially a repetition of what Clinton had offered Arafat in December 2000, which Arafat rejected. But it was essentially, it was the same offer, a Palestinian State based on most or almost all of the West Bank, 95 or 96 percent of the West Bank, all of East Jerusalem, or almost all of East Jerusalem, all of the Gaza Strip.

And Mahmoud Abbas, the successor to Yasser Arafat. a so-called president of the Palestinian State, he didn't actually say no. He simply didn't respond to Olmert's offer, which was essentially accepted, understood on the Israeli side, as basically saying no again to a two-state solution.

KHALIDI: Look at Olmert's history. Olmert -- in 2006, he went to war in Lebanon. His popularity ratings were in the single figures. I think they were the lowest popularity ratings ever recorded for an Israeli prime minister.

In early 2008, while he was talking to Abbas, he was told that he was going to be indicted for bribery. A bribery case was opened against him. The fact is that Olmert was on his way out of power and Olmert was incapable of seeing through any agreement because he was going to jail. So, Abbas had no incentive, I think to say yes and reveal his cards to somebody who is incapable of delivering.


ZAKARIA: And with that last gasp effort, the peace process as we know it essentially ended. So, how do these two scholars see the future of peace in the Middle East after the horrors of October 7th and the death and destruction that Israel has brought to Gaza? Is there any hope? I ask them when we come back.



?ZAKARIA: Welcome back to this GPS Special, The Road to War in the Middle East. The key question today is, will peace between Israelis and Palestinians ever be possible? More now with our scholars, Benny Morris and Ahmad Khalid.


ZAKARIA: So, where does this leave you, Benny? You're a man of the left. You wrote a book that famously said, you know, that the Palestinians who left in the 1948 war did not leave voluntarily, they fled, expulsion, they fled -- You know, they were ordered to leave by Israeli troops, it was controversial in Israel.

When you as a man of the left look back at this history and you say -- it seems to me, you're saying the Palestinians had many offers for a serious state, they've turned them all down, but there are 5.5 million people Palestinians living on land that Israel controls. Where does that leave you in terms of thinking about this problem?

MORRIS: Well, it leaves me very depressed and pessimistic. I don't think -- I don't see a way out of it. I don't see the Palestinians who've traditionally rejected a two-state solution. And this didn't begin with Yasser Arafat, it began in 1937, when the Palestinian leadership rejected the two-state solution offered by the Peel Commission, and again rejected a two-state solution in 1947 when the United Nations General Assembly proposed a two-state solution and they said no. And again, as I say, they did the same in the 1990s -- or the year 2000, and again under Olmert. So, that's on the Palestinian side.

On the Israeli side, Israel has continued to build settlements and its right-wing has grown stronger and stronger over the past two decades. And Israel, by now, I'm not sure is even willing to go for a two-state solution, or most Israelis.


So, it leaves us with basically more of the same. In other words, Israel controlling the territories, Palestinians being terrorists and Israel mounting counterinsurgency operations in until kingdom come. That is as far as one can see.

The problem is that what happened on October 7th was so traumatic. Mass rape of women, gang rape, the taking of hostages who are 85 years old and nine months old to the Gaza Strip by this terrorist organization, this has traumatized Israelis to such an extent that I fear that Israel will move even further to the right as the ultimate consequence of this attack on October 7th. This is something which Israelis are not going to forget.

ZAKARIA: What does it look like going forward after this war? Does it -- where do you -- where does it leave you in terms of how you think, where you think things are going to go?

KHALIDI: It's very hard to be optimistic about where things are going to go. I know that under the present circumstances there is a lot of thought now that -- particularly on the part of the U.S. administration, that the two-state solution can somehow be revived in the wake of the Gaza war. I don't see this happening.

We have 750,000 settlers now on the West Bank. The Israelis have made it absolutely, absolutely clear that there will be no military withdrawal from any area, including now Gaza, by the way. That they will maintain security control over the whole of the West Bank. There'll be no Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem. There'll be no return of refugees. There'll be no return to the 1967 borders or anything equivalent. The Israeli public has shifted to the right. The extreme right now is in control.

On the other hand, if you look at what the Palestinians still, I think, are ready to go for, which is a state in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, some kind of a land swap that is based on equivalence, some -- the basics of contiguity and sovereignty, freedom from occupation and end of military -- Israeli military rule, I don't think these are unreasonable demands.

But I don't see the Israelis doing anything like that. I don't see the Americans putting enough weight behind any kind of political program now, any kind of political resolution, which will alter the status quo, what people are calling the one state reality.

Between the river and the sea today, you have one state that dominates, one state that controls every aspect of the life of every person living within that area. It controls the ports of entry and exit. It controls the skies. It controls the goods coming in and out. It controls, by a vast, vast disparity of power, the monopoly of force. It is the dominant force.

And in that area, there's one people that is dominant, and one people that is dominated. There's one people that is in control, and one people that does not have control. Whether you can build out of that an equitable, peaceful and lasting resolution, I think is a -- I won't say it's a mad dream, but it's certainly a very difficult one to conceive of.


ZAKARIA: Next, the final part of the road to war in the Middle East. Did the U.S. back Abraham Accords, which saw Israel normalizing relations with countries across the Arab world play into Hamas' decision to attack Israel on October 7th. What is the U.S. role in possibly reviving the hopes for peace in the Holy Land? I'll talk to a former U.S. ambassador to Israel in Syria who has been at this since the administration of John F. Kennedy when we come back.



ZAKARIA: Welcome back to the GPS Special, the road to war in the Middle East. So, how did the road to peace turn into a road to war? Well, Israel's prospects for peace took an unexpected turn during the Trump administration, when the White House brokered a series of agreements between Israel and some Arab nations. Before this, the widely held expectation was that the bulk of the Arab world would keep its back turned-on Israel until the Palestinian issue was solved.

But on September 15, 2020, in a scene reminiscent of the Oslo Accords, the UAE and Bahrain recognized Israel and normalized diplomatic relations with it when they signed the Abraham Accords. Morocco and Sudan followed. And this year, the biggest prize of them all, Saudi Arabia, seemed possible too.

President Biden connected the dots after the October 7th attack, saying that one of the reasons Hamas attacked Israel was because they knew Biden was about to sit down with the Saudis, who Biden said, wanted to recognize Israel and unite the Middle East.

Let me bring in Former U.S. Ambassador Edward Djerejian to talk about this and more broadly, America's role in the quest for peace.

Djerejian has been working on diplomacy in the Middle East for more than 50 years. He's been U.S. Ambassador to Israel, U.S. Ambassador to Syria and the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs. It's a pleasure to have you on.


ZAKARIA: Let me start with the Abraham Accords. You were one of the lone voices warning about it. Explain what your concern was, and whether you think it was -- it came to fruition.

DJEREJIAN: Well, Fareed, in my analysis and experience in the Middle East, I always considered the Palestinian issue to be a central issue in the political geography of the whole region.


And what the Abraham Accords did was what one can call trying to achieve peace for peace through economic incentives, investment incentives, exchanges, et cetera. And thereby normalizing relations between Arab countries and Israel through economic means, but not really focusing on the central issue, which is land for peace between Israel and Palestine.

At the end of the day, Fareed, there's 7.2 million Palestinians and 7.2 approximately Israeli Jews in between the Jordan River and the Eastern Mediterranean. Neither one is going to go anywhere. They're there. They have to divide the land.

Economic peace simply doesn't work. But that was the trope, and that trope started in the Trump administration and the Biden administration obviously continued that with the normalization. I have nothing against normalization of Arab countries with Israel, but it was done at the cost of neglecting this central issue, the territorial aspects of peace between Israel and Palestine.

ZAKARIA: What do you think American diplomacy's fundamental mistakes have been looking back over the last 30 or 40 years? Could we have done things differently to have produced peace?

DJEREJIAN: Yes, I think, first of all, American diplomacy needs a deep understanding and appreciation of the basic facts on the ground in the Middle East and where the parties are coming from. You know, the art of diplomacy is very, very central to understanding your interlocutor's interests almost as well as he or she understands it, displaying that you understand where they're coming from, and then presenting your principle, your interests, and determining if there's any common ground. That we have to do much more.

Second, we have to have a spine in our diplomacy. We have to be tough on both sides, or else nothing will happen. You know, we started off in 67 Israeli settlements. In U.S. government proclamations, Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, the Geneva Conventions of '49.

You've seen over the years how the verbiage is that, oh, they're an obstacle to peace, or they're a problem. No, they're illegal. And we took a stand in the Bush 41 administration on the housing loan guarantees. $10 billion of housing loan guarantees to Israel that we stopped. Because they were not true to their word in stopping settlement activity, and that was the other part of the bargain with us, and that caused a furor, but the United States stood tall on principle, and we have to do that with both sides. We were tough on the Arabs. We were tough on the Israelis. You have to be skillful in your diplomacy also.

ZAKARIA: Do you think that fundamentally the problem is that the Palestinians, at some point, have not been educated by their leadership to recognize that, look, they've lost this long struggle, that they're not going to get the whole loaf, they're going to get 22 percent of that loaf? And you have to kind of admit that. And the unwillingness to admit that is -- and, you know, the worry that if you admit that you will be assassinated or you'll get outflanked by Hamas, that that's been at the core of it, that there isn't somebody who's willing to speak honestly to the Palestinians and say, look, this is all we can get?

DJEREJIAN: It comes down to leadership. The Arabs simply do not have -- have not had the leadership that -- currently, that can make those decisions. I hope that they learn from what happened on October 7th, and I hope the Israelis learn that their policy has failed. This policy of deterrence that Netanyahu had on Hamas has been a total failure.

It's not only a military intelligence failure or even not having enough idea of troops on the southern border of Israel that people are going to have to account for, but the fundamental policy of deterrence in playing Hamas off of the Palestinian Authority is a failed policy. And I think that Prime Minister Netanyahu is primarily responsible for that.


On the Arab side, Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, he doesn't display the traits of leadership that will bring the Palestinians to the table in serious negotiations with Israel. He -- the Palestinian Authority is systemically corrupt. And the divisions between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, Fatah are there. So, there has to be new leadership. ZAKARIA: Leave us with a glimmer of hope.

DJEREJIAN: The glimmer of hope is that I really do feel that October 7th is so consequential, akin to Yom Kippur in '73. That the political landscape has changed. I hope one of the major lessons that everyone learns is that you cannot shunt the Palestinian issue aside and make it a secondary or tertiary issue, that you can make economic peace or peace for peace. We have to focus on land for peace.

And let's make the hard decision to go for it. There's a lot of diplomatic history in the archives on settlements, on territorial compromises, on Jerusalem, on refugees. There's a body of negotiations that can be built on. Let's get the leadership to get it done.

ZAKARIA: Ed, pleasure to have you on.

DJEREJIAN: Pleasure to see you again, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: And thanks to all of you for watching this GPS Special. You can catch my regular show Sundays at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. I will see you then and there.