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Interview With Charles Enderlin

Aired September 14, 2003 - 07:41   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: The rhetoric shot up a few notches in Israel and the West Bank over the past few days. There's Israeli talk of removing, expelling, of even killing Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Arafat vows he's not going anywhere. So how does this impact any possibility of peace?

Joining me to talk about it is Charles Enderlin, author of "Shattered Dreams." It's a book about the Middle East peace process.

Mr. Enderlin, thanks so much for being with us this morning. In your view, what will the impact of the Israeli vote to expel Arafat be?

CHARLES ENDERLIN, AUTHOR, "SHATTERED DREAMS": Listen, first, it has an importance in the terms of history. 10 years after the historic handshake between Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, today's Israeli government decides to expel the same man who again 10 years ago signing the name of the PLO, the recognition of the state of Israel of the Jewish state.

This means for the Israeli government that this is a death certificate for the Oslo peace process.

Now will the Israeli government implement this decision to expel Yasser Arafat? Maybe. We don't know yet their decision process. But in case of the very gruesome terrorist attack in Israel, we might have within a few hours before even the American administration can react, an operation in Ramallah. And Yasser Arafat might be taken out or killed.

COLLINS: What is your response to the Israeli mindset then that this action expelling or killing Arafat in the Israeli mind would be actually opening up the peace process, being able to move forward after he is gone? They have called this man many, many times a barrier to the peace process.

ENDERLIN: Listen, anyway, the events of the last few months show again -- who decides on the Palestinian side is Yasser Arafat. The democratically elected president of the Palestinian autonomy.

He is the man who decides who will be prime minister of the Palestinians, who will not be prime minister. And first of all, explaining Arafat will produce (unintelligible) within the Palestinian territories. We will have no Palestinian leader who will accept to take any responsibility, not talking also about possible terrorist attacks that Arafat's movement, the Fatah, might launch.

The Israelis probably think that this will recede after a certain period of time, six months maybe. Things might get quiet. Anyway, they will not have anybody for a long period of time to talk to on the Palestinian side.

COLLINS: So what can the United States do to restart this peace process? And in the same respect, is there any sort of responsibility from the international community on this same issue?

ENDERLIN: The international community is not in fact reacting, directing only with words. What already the situation shows is that Israelis and Palestinians are totally unable to get to any talks. And giving them a sheet of paper, telling them this is a road map to peace implemented is just not enough.

Whoever believes that this can work, he must be smoking something very strong. Without a real intervention in the ground, without sending international American observers on the ground, armed or not, this will not happen. Nothing will happen. It will have only a further deterioration of the situation.

While we have a Palestinian society who is rapidly changing. More than half of the Palestinian population is under the age of 15. And they are growing up as future terrorists. They are dreaming only of revenge.

Without deep, fast change on the ground in the coming few years, this area will be the source of the next suicide bombers and maybe bin Ladens.

COLLINS: Quickly Mr. Enderlin, I just want to ask you, where does all of this leave Palestinian -- the new Palestinian prime minister, I should say, Ahmed Qorei?

ENDERLIN: Ahmed Qorei, who is also called Abwallah (ph), will try to form a government, but without first the help of Yasser Arafat, and Arafat does not want to share power, we saw it, and without those -- through the help of the Israelis and the Americans, we want to be able to do anything, like the man who was prime minister before, Mahmoud Abbas.

If he doesn't have a legitimacy from the Palestinian population, he will not be able to do anything to stop terror, to fight terrorist organizations. This will not happen.

And giving him a legitimacy means giving to the Palestinian populations the means to have a better life, to take away these checkpoints, to change the economy. And without that, again, this area is heading to a further catastrophe.

COLLINS: Charles Enderlin, author of "Shattered Dreams," we certainly appreciate your time and your insight this morning. Thanks so much.

ENDERLIN: Thank you.


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