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Bush Delivers Speech, Supports Creation of Palestinian State

Aired June 24, 2002 - 15:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington.

We would like to welcome our international viewers to CNN's special coverage of President Bush's Middle East peace proposal. Delayed and debated in light of last week's suicide bombings and military reprisals, the plan is expected to center on a so-called provisional Palestinian state.

The president is due to begin his remarks in just about 15 minutes from now at 3:45 p.m. Eastern.

Let's get a quick preview from our White House correspondent, John King.

John, we know a little about what the president is going to say. We just don't know all the details.

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, and we know, on some issues, President Bush will leave the details for later.

Mr. Bush will be in the Rose Garden in 15 minutes. This speech was to be delivered last week, delayed because of back-to-back suicide bombings from the Palestinian territories into Israel. There is now a massive Israeli military response under way, but Mr. Bush deciding, because of pressure from the Israelis and the Palestinians, and his own desire to get the process again focused not on violence but on peace, to come forward and give these remarks.

We are told by sources Mr. Bush will make clear that he is prepared, down the road a year or three, to recognize a provisional Palestinian state, but only if -- and this is a very key if -- only if the Palestinian Authority first adopts a number of significant political reforms and only if the Palestinian Authority moves quickly to reform its security forces.

Mr. Bush also, though, will have some tough words for Israel in this speech. He will defend Israel's right to defend itself, as is ongoing right now, in the view of this administration. But he will make clear that, as the process begins to move back toward what he hopes, toward a political dialogue, that Israel must stop settlement activity in what are recognized by previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians as Palestinian territories.

Mr. Bush will not deal with the most difficult issues of Jerusalem, the right of return of refugees, the final borders of any permanent Palestinian state. All that will be left down the road. What Mr. Bush hopes to do here is to give a framework for moving the parties back toward a political dialogue, first with what he outlines today, then with an international conference to be headed up by the secretary of state, Colin Powell, a month or two down the road, and then, hopefully, as a result of that conference, a commitment from the Israelis and the Palestinians to begin direct negotiations.

But, as much as the specifics, Judy, the key question here is: Can Mr. Bush capture the moment, if you will? You have the Palestinians saying they will not consider any peace initiatives while the Israeli troops are in the Palestinian territories. You have the Israeli government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon saying he will not negotiate with Yasser Arafat, not today, not tomorrow, not ever, in his view.

So, the challenge for this administration is not only to put forward some new specifics, a road map toward a dialogue, but to convince the parties that dialogue is worth entering into.

WOODRUFF: John, what do we know about any borders for a Palestinian state, even if it's a provisional state?

KING: Well, international law recognizes no such thing as a provisional state. This is a U.S. attempt to say to the Palestinians that the United States and perhaps the United Nations down the road would recognize, as a provisional state -- largely a symbolic gesture, but an important gesture, in the U.S. view -- of the land the Palestinians control now in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank, with the final borders of any permanent Palestinian state to be determined in direct negotiations between the Israeli and the Palestinians.

Mr. Bush, by doing that, hopes to transform it into a border dispute, if you will, as if the United States and Canada were debating borders, as opposed to what have you right now: the Israelis staking out land and negotiating with something they do not recognize as an independent state, a very different political dynamic.

But we are also are told, because of the ongoing violence, the increasing frustration with Mr. Arafat here, that Mr. Bush's language will be tough. He will make clear he is prepared to do that, recognize a provisional Palestinian state, only if those Palestinian reforms come first and come quickly.

WOODRUFF: All right, John King, much to consider now, the president's speech expected to begin just about 11 minutes from now.

Meantime, my colleague Wolf Blitzer is in Jerusalem today. He has a guest from the Israel government -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you very much, Judy.

Joining me now: Dore Gold. He's a senior adviser to the Israel prime minister, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations.

You heard John King's report. What do you expect to hear from President Bush?

DORE GOLD, ADVISER TO ARIEL SHARON: Well, obviously, I can't react to a speech that has not yet been given. And so we're going to have to see what the president is going to say.

Clearly, the president has been a consistent friend of Israel. He's been someone who has had a principled position in the war again terrorism. Tonight, Israelis are not just listening to this speech. They are aware that our defense minister spoke about fact that at least five or six Palestinian terrorists have infiltrated Israeli territory and may conduct suicide bombings.

BLITZER: Are you saying they are at loose within Israel right now?

GOLD: Well, this is what the defense minister said earlier tonight. So, we're aware of the fact that a threat exists to Israel. And that's, I think, the focus of our attention today, defeating terrorism.

Now, down the road, the prime minister laid out, in an article in "The New York Times," the parameters of what Israel would consider to be a fair peace settlement in the future.

BLITZER: But, as you know, Ambassador Gold -- and I just arrived here in Jerusalem from Washington -- a lot of Israel's best friends in the Congress, in the Senate, in the House, have expressed concerns that, by the president delivering this speech calling for a provisional Palestinian state, he, in effect, is rewarding Palestinian terrorism. Do you agree with that?

GOLD: No. First of all, we are not going to get into the content of the speech that has not yet been given. We have reports about the speech, but let's see what the president says.

Clearly, it is important not to reward terrorism. And I don't think President Bush plans to reward terrorism either. But what's important for Israel, looking down the road, once terrorism has been vanquished, I think are two fundamental principles: one, that under Resolution 242 of the U.N. Security Council from 1967, Israel is entitled to defensible borders, not returning to the 1967 lines; and second of all, that Jerusalem, the city we're sitting in now, remain united under the sovereignty of Israel.

I think those parameters have been outlined before by the prime minister, by his government. And those are parameters that I think Israel will have to consider and take into account when we look at what this process will look like in the future.

BLITZER: You know that the Palestinian Authority presented Secretary of State Powell last week, Nabil Shaath, a Palestinian Cabinet minister, what was called a non-paper, but a set of proposals that the Palestinians would support. I assume you have had a chance to review that document.

GOLD: Well, you know, we have a real, very serious problem with Mr. Arafat's leadership at the Palestinian Authority today.

We have a situation where some of the suicide bombings we're facing are from the Al Aqsa Martyr Brigades. That is a unit of the Fatah organization. So, we have, basically, Yasser Arafat supporting, backing these attacks by the Al Aqsa Martyr Brigades then sending his diplomats with initiatives to Washington. Right now, the most important thing the Palestinians can do is stop the violence full stop.

BLITZER: All right, Ambassador Gold, stand by. We're going to probably be coming back to you. We're all going to be anxiously awaiting the president's remarks. I am sure you will weighing every word that he says.

Judy, I've got to tell you that there is a lot of nervousness here in Jerusalem, wondering how far the president will go in calling for this interim or provisional Palestinian state and how far he'll go in making demands on Yasser Arafat and the Israel prime minister, Ariel Sharon -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Wolf Blitzer in Jerusalem. And we'll be coming back to you after we hear from the president.

Well, joining us now by phone -- and we are about seven minutes away now from the start of President Bush's speech -- joining us by telephone: the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat.

Mr. Erekat, if the president is going to call for a provisional Palestinian state, with borders that pretty much cover what is the Palestinian territory right now in the West Bank and Gaza, what will the reaction be of the Palestinian Authority?

SAEB EREKAT, CHIEF PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR: Judy, I would rather wait to hear the president's speech.

But I believe, at this moment, Palestinians and Israelis are at their lowest point. Thing are deteriorating. We are going on a very slippery path. And I think it's a very, very important and historic speech that the president will deliver. I believe that the majority of Palestinians and Israelis, the whole region, is really anticipating what the president will say.

I hope that the president will forward. I hope that the president will leapfrog and take Palestinians and Israelis toward the path of a permanent-status agreement, whereby the end game will be defined as ending the Israeli occupation, Israel withdrawal to the '67 borders within a specified timeline, and a Palestinian state to be established within these lines next to the state of Israel.

WOODRUFF: We do know the president is expected to call for democratic reforms on the part of the Palestinians, on the part of the Palestinian Authority, in order for this state to become something that approaches a permanent entity. Are these the kinds of reforms that your people are prepared to make?

EREKAT: Well, Judy, just about two hours ago, President Arafat, we were working, this ministerial committee, on the program for the next 100 days. President Arafat signed a decree that the presidential and administrative elections will take place as early as January 2003.

The local government elections in Palestinian territories will take place no longer than March 2003, that, within the next few weeks, there will be the total reorganization of the Ministry of the Interior and security apparatus. There be the new structure of Palestinian Finance Ministry. And there will be the law of the judiciary going forth.

I think this declaration, we look at it, we look at as the Palestinian reform as our way to nation-building, while today, as you see, we have no longer any Palestinian areas. We are under total Israel occupation. If what we see in Ramallah and Nablus and Jenin is not occupation, I would like to ask, what is occupation?

And then what really scares me tonight is hearing Mr. Gold speaking about Jerusalem not for negotiation. The '67 borders are out. Return of refugees are out of the question. I wonder what is left to negotiate in such a vision that Mr. Gold portrayed on behalf of Mr. Sharon?

Anyway, we look forward to the president's speech.


EREKAT: Yes, go ahead.

WOODRUFF: Are you prepared to accept the idea of a provisional, in other words, a temporary Palestinian state?

EREKAT: Judy, I am a professor of international law and a career in my real life. There is no such thing as a provisional state.

As I said, I would wait to hear the president's speech. I hope that the end game will be defined. We don't need to reinvent the wheel. Palestinians and Israelis have already agreed that the object of the negotiations is to implement Resolutions 242 and 338, meaning ending the Israeli occupation, Israel withdrawal to the '67 borders, and the establishment of a Palestinian state next to the state of Israel. That is the end game. And I think the end game must be defined within a time ceiling.

WOODRUFF: Saeb Erekat is the chief Palestinian negotiator.

Mr. Erekat, we thank you very much for joining us. And we will hope to talk to you after we hear from President Bush.

We're now just about four minutes away from the time that we were told the president would begin his remarks in the Rose Garden.

In the meantime, we want to turn to former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. He joins us from New York City.

Mr. Barak, the idea of a provisional state, is this the right way to go right now?

EHUD BARAK, FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: I don't know. It depends on the details.

But the only thing that should be clear is that it could never, ever reward terror. Namely, the only precondition for such an idea to become viable if it becomes clear that, before any final decision is made about it, it will become clear that the Palestinian Authority is ready to put an end to terror, to put an end to this suicide bombing campaign as a new diplomatic tool, and arrest the terrorists and stop incitement.

I believe that the president took such an exceptional leadership role, with moral clarity, since 9/11. I hope and believe that he will not let it broken right now. And I am fully confident that he will find a way never, ever to reward terror.

WOODRUFF: But are you saying the idea of a provisional Palestinian state is not acceptable?

BARAK: No, you know, it depends on the details. If it is three years ahead and conditional on a totally different Palestinian Authority, transparent, accountable, responsible to put an end to terror, that is something that could be contemplated. But if it becomes a down payment on behalf of something that had not yet been delivered, facing this terror campaign, it will amount to a major mistake.

WOODRUFF: We also know the president is expected to call on Israel to halt its incursions into the Palestinian areas. You just heard the complaints from Mr. Erekat.

He is also going to be asking, we're told -- we'll see -- for a freeze of the settlements in the Palestinian area.

BARAK: I don't see any major problem with a freezing of more settlements or extra activity in settlements. I believe that we were ready to do it under my government and under previous governments in Israel. That is not the case.

I believe that, whenever Mr. Erekat is telling you that the essence of it is occupation, occupation, you should say, no, it is about terror,, terror. How do I know? I was there; 15 months ago, I was prime minister of Israel. Less than two years ago, we sat together with Mr. Arafat.

President Clinton put an offer on the table that, in exchange for end of conflict and certain Israel demands, would lead to a Palestinian independent state, contiguous over 90-plus percent of the West Bank and 100 percent of the Gaza Strip, with right of return into the Palestinian state, not into Israel, and even with a foothold in Eastern Jerusalem as part of their Palestinian capital, Arafat refused even to take it as a basis for negotiation and deliberately and consciously turned to this suicide bombing campaign.

It should be never, ever accepted as a standard of international behavior. Israel will never capitulate to it. And I strongly recommend to anyone else, especially post-9/11, never to capitulate to it.

WOODRUFF: All right, we're talking with former Israel Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

We should say that the White House has told us the president will begin his remarks in just about a minute and a half from now.

Mr. Prime Minister, thank you very much for joining us.

Bill, we are just about a minute away. Is there political -- is there politics, in other words, in what the president is saying?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Judy, we are finding that more and more Americans do say -- they have said over the weekend -- that President Bush does not have a clear, well-thought-out policy in the Middle East. That number is now 60 percent. It's up from 47 percent back in April.

So, there is pressure on Bush to do something, but it's not coming primarily from his own supporters. We asked, "Which should have a higher priority for the United States: working to establish peace between Israel and the Palestinians or working to over throw Saddam Hussein?" And by 52-42 percent, the public said peace between Israel and the Palestinians should be the higher priority. Democrats are the ones who said that by the biggest margin. Republicans are split. Republicans, President Bush's base, believe they should be equal in priority.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider, and you are going to be with us as we listen to President Bush.

You can see those are live pictures from the Rose Garden. We are just probably less than a minute now from having President Bush come out to make what is surely the most important speech that he has made on the Middle East at any time, certainly, during his presidency.

John King, there have been, back and forth, inside this administration and among the president's advisers, as he prepared to do this -- here comes the president right now. We won't go to John right now.

We'll talk with him after President Bush.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For too long, the citizens of the Middle East have lived in the midst of death and fear. The hatred of a few holds the hopes of many hostage. The forces of extremism and terror are attempting to kill progress and peace by killing the innocent. And this casts a dark shadow over an entire region.

For the sake of all humanity, things must change in the Middle East.

It is untenable for Israeli citizens to live in terror. It is untenable for Palestinians to live in squalor and occupation. And the current situation offers no prospect that life will improve. Israeli citizens will continue to be victimized by terrorists, and so Israel will continue to defend herself, and the situation of the Palestinian people will grow more and more miserable.

My vision is two states, living side by side, in peace and security. There is simply no way to achieve that peace until all parties fight terror.

Yet at this critical moment, if all parties will break with the past and set out on a new path, we can overcome the darkness with the light of hope.

Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership, so that a Palestinian state can be born. I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, not compromised by terror.

I call upon them to build a practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty.

If the Palestinian people actively pursue these goals, America and the world will actively support their efforts. If the Palestinian people meet these goals, they will be able to reach agreement with Israel and Egypt and Jordan on security and other arrangements for independence.

And when the Palestinian people have new leaders, new institutions and new security arrangements with their neighbors, the United States of America will support the creation of a Palestinian state, whose borders and certain aspects of its sovereignty will be provisional until resolved as part of a final settlement in the Middle East.

In the work ahead, we all have responsibilities. The Palestinian people are gifted and capable and I'm confident they can achieve a new birth for their nation.

A Palestinian state will never be created by terror. It will be built through reform. And reform must be more than cosmetic change or a veiled attempt to preserve the status quo. True reform will require entirely new political and economic institutions based on democracy, market economics and action against terrorism.

Today the elected Palestinian legislature has no authority and power is concentrated in the hands of an unaccountable few. A Palestinian state can only serve its citizens with a new constitution which separates the powers of government.

The Palestinian parliament should have the full authority of a legislative body. Local officials and government ministers need authority of their own and the independence to govern effectively.

The United States, along with the European Union and Arab states, will work with Palestinian leaders to create a new constitutional framework and a working democracy for the Palestinian people. And the United States, along with others in the international community, will help the Palestinians organize and monitor fair, multi-party local elections by the end of the year with national elections to follow.

Today, the Palestinian people live in economic stagnation, made worse by official corruption. A Palestinian state will require a vibrant economy, where honest enterprise is encouraged by honest government.

The United States, the international donor community and the World Bank stand ready to work with Palestinians on a major project of economic reform and development. The United States, the EU, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are willing to oversee reforms in Palestinian finances, encouraging transparency and independent auditing. And the United States, along with our partners in the developed world, will increase our humanitarian assistance to relieve Palestinian suffering.

Today, the Palestinian people lack effective courts of law and have no means to defend and vindicate their rights. A Palestinian state will require a system of reliable justice to punish those who prey on the innocent. The United States and members of the international community stand ready to work with Palestinian leaders to establish, finance and monitor a truly independent judiciary.

Today, Palestinian authorities are encouraging, not opposing, terrorism.

This is unacceptable. And the United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure.

This will require an externally supervised effort to rebuild and reform the Palestinian security services. The security system must have clear lines of authority and accountability, and a unified chain of command.

America's pursuing this reform along with key regional states. The world is prepared to help, yet ultimately these steps toward statehood depend on the Palestinian people and their leaders. If they energetically take the path of reform, the rewards can come quickly. If Palestinians embrace democracy, confront corruption and firmly reject terror, they can count on American support for the creation of a provisional state of Palestine.

With a dedicated effort, this state could rise rapidly, as it comes to terms with Israel, Egypt and Jordan on practical issues such as security. The final borders, the capital and other aspects of this state's sovereignty will be negotiated between the parties as part of a final settlement.

Arab states have offered their help in this process, and their help is needed. I've said in the past that nations are either with us or against us in the war on terror. To be counted on the side of peace, nations must act. Every leader actually committed to peace will end incitement to violence in official media and publicly denounce homicide bombings. Every nation actually committed to peace will stop the flow of money, equipment and recruits to terrorist groups seeking the destruction of Israel, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah.

Every nation actually committed to peace must block the shipment of Iranian supplies to these groups and oppose regimes that promote terror, like Iraq.

And Syria must choose the right side in the war on terror by closing terrorist camps and expelling terrorist organizations.

Leaders who want to be included in the peace process must show by their deeds and undivided support for peace.

And as we move toward a peaceful solution, Arab states will be expected to build closer ties of diplomacy and commerce with Israel, leading to full normalization of relations between Israel and the entire Arab world.

Israel also has a large stake in the success of a democratic Palestine. Permanent occupation threatens Israel's identity and democracy. A stable, peaceful Palestinian state is necessary to achieve the security that Israel longs for.

So I challenge Israel to take concrete steps to support the emergence of a viable, credible Palestinian state.

As we make progress toward security, Israel forces need to withdraw fully to positions they held prior to September 28, 2000. And consistent with the recommendations of the Mitchell committee, Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories must stop.

The Palestinian economy must be allowed to develop. As violence subsides, freedom of movement should be restored, permitting innocent Palestinians to resume work and normal life. Palestinian legislators and officials, humanitarian and international workers, must be allowed to go about the business of building a better future. And Israel should release frozen Palestinian revenues into honest, accountable hands.

I've asked Secretary Powell to work intensively with Middle Eastern and international leaders to realize the vision of a Palestinian state, focusing them on a comprehensive plan to support Palestinian reform and institution building.

Ultimately, Israelis and Palestinians must address the core issues that divide them if there is to be a real peace, resolving all claims and ending the conflict between them.

This means that the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 will be ended through a settlement negotiated between the parties, based on U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338, with Israeli withdrawal to secure and recognized borders.

We must also resolve questions concerning Jerusalem, the plight and future of Palestinian refugees, and a final peace between Israel and Lebanon and Israel and a Syria that supports peace and fights terror.

All who are familiar with the history of the Middle East realize that there may be setbacks in this process. Trained and determined killers, as we have seen, want to stop it. Yet the Egyptian and Jordanian peace treaties with Israel remind us that, with determined and responsible leadership, progress can come quickly.

As new Palestinian institutions and new leaders emerge, demonstrating real performance on security and reform, I expect Israel to respond and work toward a final status agreement.

With intensive effort by all of us, agreement could be reached within three years from now. And I and my country will actively lead toward that goal.

I can understand the deep anger and anguish of the Israeli people. You've lived too long with fear and funerals, having to avoid markets and public transportation, and forced to put armed guards in kindergarten classrooms. The Palestinian Authority has rejected your offered hand and trafficked with terrorists. You have a right to a normal life. You have a right to security. And I deeply believe that you need a reformed, responsible Palestinian partner to achieve that security.

I can understand the deep anger and despair of the Palestinian people. For decades you've been treated as pawns in the Middle East conflict. Your interests have been held hostage to a comprehensive peace agreement that never seems to come, as your lives get worse year by year.

You deserve democracy and the rule of law. You deserve an open society and a thriving economy. You deserve a life of hope for your children.

An end to occupation and a peaceful democratic Palestinian state may seem distance, but America and our partners throughout the world stand ready to help, help you make them possible as soon as possible.

If liberty can blossom in the rocky soil of the West Bank in Gaza, it will inspire millions of men and women around the globe, who are equally weary of poverty and oppression, equally entitled to the benefits of democratic government.

I have a hope for the people of Muslim countries. Your commitments to morality and learning and tolerance lead to great historical achievements, and those values are alive in the Islamic world today. You have a rich culture, and you share the aspirations of men and women in every culture. Prosperity and freedom and dignity are not just American hopes or Western hopes, they are universal human hopes. And even in the violence and turmoil of the Middle East, America believes those hopes have the power to transform lives and nations.

This moment is both an opportunity and a test for all parties in the Middle East; an opportunity to lay the foundations for future peace, a test to show who's serious about peace and who is not.

The choice here is stark and simple, the Bible says, "I have set before you life and death, therefore choose life." The time has arrived for everyone in this conflict to choose peace and hope and life.

Thank you very much.

WOODRUFF: President Bush with his blueprint for achieving peace in the Middle East, calling for the Palestinians to remove Yasser Arafat from power, but to move toward a Palestinian state. We'll have full coverage. We are going to move now to our White House correspondent John King.

John, the president made it very clear that, yes, we'll move toward a Palestinian state, but Yasser Arafat has to go.

KING: Never mentioned Yasser Arafat by name, Judy, in saying that. And this White House will say it is up to the Palestinian people to choose their leadership. And Mr. Bush is not trying to do that for them.

But if you take what the president just said and match it up against previous statements by this president and this administration, you can make no mistake about it. This president saying he is prepared to recognize a Palestinian state with provisional borders. But if and only if the Palestinians choose -- quote -- "new and different Palestinian leadership, not compromised by terror, not corrupt."

This administration has said in the past that Yasser Arafat is corrupt, that he is compromised by terrorism. The president also said in that speech that Israel has reached its hand out to the Palestinians and had that offer rejected by a Palestinian Authority that traffics in terrorism.

So Mr. Bush trying to present a new framework here, trying to get the Palestinians and Israelis ultimately back into peace negotiations and a path toward peace. Some demands on the Israeli government, but very little in this speech that you are likely to hear the Sharon government take issue with.

Because before there is any considerable burden on Israel, Mr. Bush made clear that he expects in the short term all of the burden to be on the Palestinians -- political reform, security reforms, new elections. And then and only then, Mr.Bush says, he is willing to consider a Palestinian state.

WOODRUFF: Down the road, John, the president did talk about the two parties looking back to the '67 borders, something the Israelis have said they would never do. KING: But he did say that would be negotiated as well. Yes, he did say they would have to look toward secure borders. Israel pulling back the secure and defensible borders. And the president, instead of using the term 1967, used the terms of the United Nations resolutions that dictate the situation between Israel and the Palestinians right now.

Mr. Bush saying the final borders of a Palestinian state, the issue of Jerusalem -- which both Israel and the Palestinians claim as their capital -- and the contentious issue of the right of return of Palestinians who used to live in the lands now occupied and taken by Israel, those would be left for direct negotiations. That, you can be sure, is something that is well down the road.

Mr. Bush outlining his framework today. The burden clearly on the Palestinians to take it or leave it, when it comes to the issue of political reforms. And again, while he didn't quite say so, Mr. Bush calling here for the Palestinian people to elect new leaders.

You heard, as you spoke to Mr. Arafat earlier, elections perhaps next year. This president making clear he does not trust Yasser Arafat. Then and only then would the demands kick in on Israel. So, Israel likely to be quite happy with what it hears from the president today. The key issue will be how does Mr. Arafat react.

WOODRUFF: All right, John King at the White House.

And now we want to go quickly to the former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak. He joins us once again from New York.

Mr. Barak, now that you've had a chance to listen to President Bush, is this a formula that the Israeli people can live with?

BARAK: Yes, clearly. So I fully agree with the analysis of John King. It's a good speech that make it clear that if and only if there is a change of leadership and total change of the nature of Palestinian Authority, in terms of democracy, in terms of fighting against terror and in terms of the open and accountable institutions -- that Israel will have to go back into secure and recognize border. I agree that (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

I believe it's really good speech, that we have set a standard. But the real challenge will be to Colin Powell to be able to bring the Europeans, the U.N. and Russia, to agree with it without a single threat. Since if a single threat will appear, Arafat would enter into it and crack the whole system.

And another element is to make sure that the Arab side, the Palestinian side of demands, will not be deteriorated and fade away a long time, when the real challenge of living up to these demands will emerge and the demands will have to be implemented.

WOODRUFF: Well, do you believe the Palestinian people are capable of doing what President Bush is asking them do?

BARAK: They are clearly capable. There are highly capable, highly adaptable, clever people. There is one obstacle name Mr. Arafat. And I hope he will realize that it's maybe his last opportunity to let what the president hinted to happen, and not try to resist it.

You know, our foreign minister, Abba Eban, used to say that Palestinian leadership never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. That would happen many times, also at Camp David. I hope it won't happen once again.

WOODRUFF: The president made it very clear that as Palestinians make the kind of democratic reforms he's asking them to do, he will be looking for the Israelis, at one point, he said, to get back to the September 2000 borders, to -- and he said very clearly -- settlement activity must stop.

BARAK: You know, it's just less than two years ago I sat down at Camp David as the prime minister of Israel. And President Clinton put this offer on the table. We were ready to negotiate it. Israel will be ready to negotiate once we see a responsible Palestinian leadership with the characteristics of President Sadat of Egypt or King Hussein of Jordan.

WOODRUFF: Do you believe that Yasser Arafat -- you said just a moment ago, if Arafat decides he is no longer going to be an obstacle. Do you believe that he has the will? You've spent a lot of time with this man. Do you believe he has the will, the ability, to step aside, to make an opening for the new leadership President Bush is describing?

BARAK: He will be capable of doing it if and only if he will see a united international front facing him, with not a slight -- the slightest trick between the American position, the European position, Russian position and Kofi Annan's position.

If he sees this united front telling him the same, we are ready to help you to achieve the aspirations of the Palestinian people, but you have to take some personal consequences and let it slowly forward, it is the only chance. If he will see any trick, he will not hesitate for a moment to humiliate both the secretary and even the president, and get away with some smokescreen. And turn back to terror.

WOODRUFF: Thank you very much, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

Joining us now by telephone, Saeb Erekat. Once again, he's the chief Palestinian negotiator.

Mr. Erekat, President Bush said in no uncertain terms: "The Palestinians must have new leadership. Read between the lines. Yasser Arafat must step aside." Is Mr. Arafat prepared to do this?

EREKAT: Well, President Arafat is the elected Palestinian leader. And he is the leader who leads the Palestinians towards the path of peace. And President Arafat, as I told you earlier, has signed today on the decree to hold general elections as early as next year. I cannot find the president -- President Bush statements on the new leadership and so unacceptable. I think the issue here, that if he really cares about the Palestinians deserve a better life, Palestinians deserve to be free of the occupation. And Palestinians deserve the right to live like human beings and their independent state.

I don't know whether the program of President Bush will be sequential or parallel. We have heard from the administration that all of the steps of reform, the political track and security, will go parallel. I hope that they will continue to be this way.

As far as President Arafat is concerned, Arafat is the leader of the Palestinian people. He is the president of the Palestinian people. And he is the one who led the Palestinians to the battlefield. And I think that, as far as Sharon is concerned and the Israelis are concerned, I think they could care less if the Palestinians are ruled by the Boy Scouts or Attila the Hun.

But the real issue here is that we need to specify a road map that would lead us, the president says, to ending the Israeli occupation. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Israel withdrawal to the June 4 border.

Time is of the essence here, Judy. Time is of the essence. I don't think we can wait forever while every town, village and refugee camp in the West Bank is under Israeli occupation.

WOODRUFF: Well, the president did spell out a road map, and it starts with new leadership on the part of the Palestinians. Are you rejecting President Bush's primary request here, that the Palestinian people -- and I'm quoting. He says, "I'm calling on the Palestinians to elect new leaders who are not compromised by terror."

EREKAT: President Arafat was elected by the Palestinian people in a direct and free election, supervised and run by the Europeans and the Americans. And we will have election and very, very soon.

So I think it's only for the Palestinian people to determine who are the leaders. The Palestinian people have chosen President Arafat as their leader. And the world and President Bush must respect the democratic choice of the Palestinian people.

WOODRUFF: So you're saying the Palestinian...


WOODRUFF: Go ahead, I'm sorry. Go ahead.

EREKAT: Having said that, Judy, I think the real road map, that we need have extensive deliberation between us and the American administration. We need to be (UNINTELLIGIBLE) many of the issues President Bush mentioned lack any self limiting mechanism.

And what we need here is a defined road map and a parallel approach. Because I don't think the sequential approach will work or do us any favor. But the end game that he specifies, the end of the Israeli occupation, he mentioned the 1967 borders. He mentioned the two step solution. And he mentioned Palestinians to be -- to live free.

And I think that to reach there, we don't need to reinvent the wheel. And instead of delaying actions of Jerusalem, Mr. Barak, who just was talking to you, knows very much how far we came on these issues. We don't need to start from zero. We came a long way and we need to begin the negotiations where they left off.

WOODRUFF: But just to be very clear, before I let you go, you're rejecting the idea of new leadership for the Palestinians?

EREKAT: Well, I don't think that Palestinian leaders come from parachutes from Washington or from anywhere else. Palestinian leaders are elected directly by the Palestinian people. President Yasser Arafat was directly elected in a free and fair election.

He is the leader of the Palestinian people and he has called for a new election next year. President Arafat is the elected leader of the Palestinian people and this must be respected.

WOODRUFF: All right, we're going to let you go now. Saeb Erekat is the chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority. Mr. Erekat, thank you very much.

Let's go back to Jerusalem now to our Wolf Blitzer. And in a moment, we'll go to Matthew Chance in Ramallah. Wolf, what's the reaction you're picking up there?

BLITZER: So far there has been no official Israeli reaction. Dore Gold, the former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, the senior adviser to the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, was here before. But the Israeli government made it clear before the president's speech, they wanted to very carefully listen to every word that the president uttered and then very carefully come up with an official Israeli government response.

The former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, of course, not being a member of this government. He's speaking only for himself. But based on what the president did say, Judy, I'd be amazed if the Israeli government isn't extraordinarily pleased by what it heard.

This was a speech that was, by and large, down the line, what the Israelis wanted to hear, when the president said, peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership, so a Palestinian state can be born -- something that the Sharon government, the Likud and Labor coalition government in power here in Jerusalem, has been saying for sometime.

Another point the president said, today the Palestinian Authority is encouraging, not opposing, terrorism. The conditions that the president laid on the Palestinian Authority in this speech today, precisely the conditions that the Israeli government wanted to hear.

So I would be amazed, Judy, if the Israeli government doesn't come back with a very warm endorsement of what the president had to say -- almost down the line on every issue. And even on the contentious issues, where he put some demands challenging the Israeli government to end settlement activity, consistent with the George Mitchell peace plan returning to the lines on the West Bank and Gaza September 28, 2000.

The president was very careful in saying that the Palestinians must first stop terrorism. That is the sine qua non. That is the beginning of the process. And only after that will the Israelis be forced to go and take some of the steps, some of the other steps that the president is calling for.

The irony here, Judy, is that the Palestinians, in the days and weeks leading up to this speech, backed by the Saudis, the Egyptians, the Jordanians, were the ones that were really pressing the Bush administration to come out with a new vision. The Israeli government of Prime Minister Sharon was very nervous, very skeptical, very worried, that this speech would go too far in calling for this provisional Palestinian state.

The irony, of course, now being that the president has delivered a very enthusiastically pro-Israel speech, in effect. And that's going to be a source of joy here among the Israelis. A source of concern, though, to the Palestinians.

WOODRUFF: You could hear that, I think, in the comments of Mr. Erekat just a moment ago.

All right, Wolf is in Jerusalem. We want to go to nearby to the town in the West Bank of Ramallah.

Our Matthew Chance is there. Of course, Ramallah is the home of Yasser Arafat, the leader of the Palestinian Authority.

Are you picking up any reaction there, Matthew?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's very difficult at this stage, Judy, of course, to judge the public reaction, the reaction of ordinary Palestinians here in Ramallah, to what President Bush had to say this morning. Because, of course, Ramallah has been placed under a curfew for the past 24 hours or so since Israeli military forces moved in with about 80 pieces of heavy armor: tanks, armored personnel carriers, military vehicles -- and imposed that curfew here, placing themselves around key areas of the city.

I have to say, though, there is a great deal of awareness amongst Palestinians I've spoken to before this curfew here was imposed. Expectations, though, very low about what may come out of the speech by President Bush. Indeed, that may be justified by some extent, by what they may have heard tonight watching their television sets inside their homes.

The United States is very much seen as the unquestioning ally of Israel by ordinary Palestinians here -- the power that gives Israel the green light to move ahead into Palestinian areas like the West Bank and conduct its military operations. That makes life very difficult, of course, for ordinary Palestinians, even though this is meant to be an operation to crack down on militant groups here.

So, understandably, people here are likely to have very low marks to what President Bush had to say here, not least because the core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts -- the issues that are close to the hearts of ordinary Palestinians -- the issue of Jerusalem, the final borders of a final Palestinian state, and what to do with the millions of Palestinian refugees in the countries surrounding this place.

That issue was sort of side-stepped. No timetable has been set for it. So this is something that's going to be a matter of great concern to ordinary Palestinians.

WOODRUFF: Matthew, just one quick question. Of course, much of this speech focused on not by name, but by implication, the Palestinian leadership, namely Yasser Arafat. Do you know where he is tonight?

CHANCE: Yes, Yasser Arafat is stuck inside his compound, his presidential compound. He has a tight security cordon of tanks surrounding him, tanks and armored personnel carriers. The Israeli defense forces, the Israeli military that is here, has said that that is not intended to stop him from coming out. Although, of course, that is the effect.

They say it's because they want to stop suspected militants, that they're trying to track down here in Ramallah, from getting into the presidential compound and trying to seek sanctuary. So President Arafat is likely to be inside of his bunker, which has been very battered, of course, by previous incursions, watching what President Bush has to say.

WOODRUFF: All right, Matthew Chance, joining us from Ramallah.

We'll continue to bring you comprehensive coverage of the president's address. Coming up, a leading conservative offers his reaction to President Bush's plan. When we return, does Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson think Mr. Bush went too far?



BUSH: Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership so that a Palestinian state can be born. I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders -- leaders not compromised by terror. I call upon them to build a practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty.


WOODRUFF: President Bush spoke those words just half an hour ago in the Rose Garden at the White House, laying out his idea, his vision, of a Palestinian state. But before we get to that point, the president said there needs to be new leadership on the part of the Palestinian people. They need to adopt comprehensive, democratic reforms.

Joining me now, our political analyst, Bill Schneider. Bill, as we heard Wolf say over in Jerusalem -- we've heard others say, we heard the former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak say -- this is a speech that Israel is going to be very pleased with. Does this mean Americans support Israel?

SCHNEIDER: Judy, that's really not so clear. If it's a question of Israel versus the Palestinians, Americans clearly sympathize much more with Israel.

But last week, in our CNN-"TIME" poll, we asked people: Do you consider yourself a supporter of Israel? And on that issue the public is split. Forty-three percent of Americans say yes, 43 percent say no. Now, if you look at Republicans and Democrats separately, how is there a party division? There is.

Fifty-three percent of Republicans call themselves supporters of Israel, compared with 40 percent of Democrats. Anything that President Bush might have said -- there's the Republicans and Democrats -- anything he might have said to antagonize Israel, would also antagonize his political base.

Israel has two core groups of supporters in the United States: Jews and conservatives. Democrats are very sensitive to Jewish pressure because Jews are very strong supporters of the Democratic Party, and contributors. Republicans are sensitive to pressure from conservatives and from the religious right. In other words, support for Israel is not so much widespread as it is strategically placed.

This speech was clearly designed to minimize the political risk. And I think in another way it minimized the risk. In endorsing a Palestinian state, the U.S. must never, never become the sponsor of a new terrorist state. That is why the president insisted on political reforms and new leadership.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider, thanks very much.

Speaking of conservatives and speaking of the religious right, joining us now "On the Record," the Reverend Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition. He joins us from Virginia Beach.

You told me just before this interview, Reverend Robertson, that you wouldn't be happier if you'd written the speech yourself.

REV. PAT ROBERTSON, FOUNDER, CHRISTIAN COALITION: Judy, I think it was brilliant. The president covered all of the bases. He went so far as Syria, Iran, the other Arab states that are supporting terror. He warned them not to participate in this.

But at the same time, it was balanced insofar as he's going to go to the heart of the Palestinian problem, which is Yasser Arafat and that group of people who have been ruling. They're not elected representatives and he's trying to give hope to the Palestinian people. He spoke nice words about the Palestinians, who are fine people. And he wants them to be free from this terrorist influence that has been dominating their society.

WOODRUFF: Were you worried, going into the speech, that the president might not tilt as much toward Israel as he apparently has?

ROBERTSON: Judy, I was very concerned that the so-called doves in the State Department would win out, and actually that he would insist on a Palestinian state with Yasser Arafat and his crowd in the Palestinian Authority in charge of it. He's done the right thing.

I think that the Israelis can say we can deal with moderate Palestinians. But obviously, if Yasser Arafat would gun down any opposition, he's got to go. And I think the president's statement was very bold and I believe it's going to be appreciated not only by the Israelis, but by the Arab states as well.

WOODRUFF: Prime Minister Sharon was also worried going into the speech. At one point, he said we will go along with anything that rewards terrorism. Do you believe what the president has described today in any way could be seen as rewarding terrorism?

ROBERTSON: No way. He basically said he's not going to support -- the United States is not going to support a terrorist state. But the Palestinians obviously deserve self determination. But they won't get it under that bunch of thugs that's in charge.

You know, it's saying we get peace in Chicago during prohibition by electing Al Capone mayor. It just doesn't work. And so it's the same thing here. Yasser Arafat has got to go. And I think president, by making that bold statement, that was the heart of the speech and it was something that delighted me, because he spoke the truth.

WOODRUFF: Do you believe the Palestinian people and their leadership have the will to do what the president is asking for?

ROBERTSON: There's been so much propaganda, Judy, and they've been so brainwashed over so many years by Yasser Arafat, the propaganda to have martyrs against Israel and so forth is so strong, that children are taught from kindergarten on to hate Israel.

Whether there are enough moderates left -- for example, I used to know Elias Freij, who was the mayor of Bethlehem. He's a Christian. Bethlehem was basically a Christian town. It isn't any longer. The Christians have been purged.

So, throughout the Palestinian area, there has been a purging of the moderate leadership. So whether they can find someone now remains to be seen. As I believe Ehud Barak said, when they asked who would you select, he said, I better not name him because he'll be assassinated.

So whether they can find the leadership remains to be seen. But this is a very hopeful thing. And I believe there's freedom in those people's hearts. And they'll look at the president's speech as saying this man is on our side and he wants to help us.

WOODRUFF: I asked that question because when I spoke just a few moments ago -- I don't know whether you heard it or not -- with Saeb Erekat, who's the chief Palestinian negotiator. And I asked him if he and his colleagues were prepared, in effect, to get rid of Yasser Arafat, to move to new leadership.

He said Yasser Arafat is the elected leader of the Palestinian people. The United States, he said in so many words, doesn't have the right to come over here and tell us who our leadership is.

ROBERTSON: Judy, the truth is, Yasser Arafat wasn't elected to anything. He and his gang of thugs came in from Tunisia and just imposed their will. Some of the Palestinians call it the Tunisian mafia. It's like a gang of criminals that has come and imposed its will. I don't think there's ever been a free election in the Palestinian territory. He's sort of a self-anointed leader. But whatever.

Granted, the United States doesn't have the authority. But the United States is the most powerful nation on earth. And we've come down strong. And I think the other Arab nations will come into line. Secretly, if you were to ask Mubarak and some of the other leaders of the -- certainly Abdul of Jordan.

If you'd ask them what they think of Yasser Arafat, confidentially, they'd tell you they don't approve of him at all. But publicly, they've got to come out and say oh, yes, he's a fine person. But they all know secretly he's not.

WOODRUFF: And do you think they're going to defend him now, these other moderate Arab leaders? Or do you think they're going to side with President Bush? What's your expectation?

ROBERTSON: Well, Judy, they call it the Arab street. And there's so much, so many inflamed passions that it's going to be hard to get things quiet. But I believe, secretly, those so-called moderate Arab states will come along with the United States.

We are now exercising true leadership. And I think it is the kind of leadership that -- we have been vacillating. The president had been going one way and then the other. But right now, he has come down hard on a very wise course of action that resonates, I think, in the hearts of people that like liberty.

And I believe that those Arab leaders are going to come along with the United States. They need us, after all. They can't be opposed to the U.S. We are much, much more powerful than they are. And they have got to come into line.

WOODRUFF: Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson, we thank you so much.

ROBERTSON: Thank you.





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