FTN - 4/14/02

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BOB SCHIEFFER, Chief Washington Correspondent: Today on Face the Nation, Secretary of State Colin Powell meets with Yasser Arafat. We'll go to Jerusalem for the latest.

Arriving in an armored convoy, the secretary for more than three hours with the Palestinian leader. We'll get the latest from our CBS News correspondents on the scene. And we'll talk to Powell's deputy, Richard Armitage.

What are the options now? We'll talk about that with New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer and Nebraska's Republican Senator Chuck Hagel.

Gloria Borger will be here, and I'll have more to say on all of this in today's commentary. But first, the crisis in the Middle East, on Face the Nation.

And good morning again. If you've been watching television this morning, you know that the secretary of state and Yasser Arafat met for more than three hours today in the besieged headquarter of Yasser Arafat.

We want to get more on what happened. The secretary said it was useful and constructive, but said little else.

CBS news correspondent, Wyatt Andrews has been traveling with the secretary of state. He is in Jerusalem this morning.

Wyatt, good morning. What can you add to what we know about this meeting this morning?

WYATT ANDREWS, CBS News Correspondent: Bob, good morning.

We've just been told a few more details about what happened inside the meeting when the secretary finally arrived. Senior aides say that Powell spent every bit of 45 minutes of that three hours telling Yasser Arafat, explaining to him what a, quote, "barrier" it is to peace for these suicide bombings to continue.

Powell obviously wants, and the Israelis want, for the bombings to stop so that they can have political cover to withdraw from the territories, the West Bank territories that they've invaded.

Powell sees this as a beginning. It's not very clear where he got. The immediate response from the Palestinians after this meeting and after the 45 minutes that Powell spent explaining the importance of this was that "they will do their obligations," that's a quote, when they see a full Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories.

And so, I'm not sure that Powell's meeting this morning, at least this one, moved the bar very far.

SCHIEFFER: It must have been an extraordinary scene there. Here you have Yasser Arafat in this building that has been blocked off by Israeli forces, and then we saw this convoy of cars approaching. What was it like there to be on the scene, Wyatt?

ANDREWS: It was as tense, Bob, as you could possibly imagine. We were not allowed by the Israeli defense forces to shoot everything that was there, but of course we saw everything.

The secretary arrived in this courtyard. It was perhaps 40 yards wide. And into that courtyard his motorcade came, as we did. We had been positioned there in advance of him. And he had to walk up these steps into Yasser Arafat's office.

Forty yards across from him -- first of all, let me back up. Everything in Arafat's compound -- it's a several-acre compound -- every single building, except for the central building where Arafat is, is occupied by the Israelis.

And so across this courtyard, there are the Israelis with their weapons, and inside the building where Powell went are the Palestinians with their weapons. And add to that the diplomatic security agents who were guarding us and the secretary, and you had a lot of weapons locked and loaded and a very, very tense situation.

SCHIEFFER: But I want to go back. You said that you do not think the bar probably has been moved very far after this visit. They agreed at least to meet again, but is that about it?

ANDREWS: Powell is going to meet Ariel Sharon, the prime minister, again tonight, in Tel Aviv, but has no plans right now to meet Yasser Arafat again. He said they were going to meet at the staff level -- his staff meeting with Arafat's staff, although I have sense Bob, that this could change in a hurry.

The secretary has said that his trip here will be open-ended. But he is prepared to make this a shuttle-diplomacy kind of trip, where he goes back and forth. Day trips out to other Arab countries are entirely possible. And so, I'm pretty sure that Secretary Powell is in here for what he sees as the duration.

SCHIEFFER: OK, Wyatt Andrews in Jerusalem. Thank you very much, Wyatt.

And joining us now from the State Department, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.

Mr. Secretary, thank you for joining us. It's my understanding you have just talked to the secretary of state after the meeting with Yasser Arafat concluded. He called it constructive, useful. What other details can you give us?

RICHARD ARMITAGE, Deputy Secretary of State: Good morning, Mr. Schieffer.

Yes, I've had several conversations with the secretary. In addition to constructive and useful, he indicated that the staffs of both Secretary Powell and Chairman Arafat would meet tomorrow to find a way forward, to realize the words that Chairman Arafat uttered yesterday in Arabic. He also indicated that he delivered a tough message of the need for leadership, just as called for by President Bush.

SCHIEFFER: What does he want Mr. Arafat to do at this point, sir?

ARMITAGE: The first thing that Mr. Arafat must do, is to use the bully pulpit of his leadership. He has 80 percent -- or over 80 percent popularity in the Palestinian community.

He has to use that and exert his moral force, his moral authority, to make it clear to all that violence, suicide bombings for political ends is not a way forward.

GLORIA BORGER, U.S. News & World Report: Well, what does that specifically mean? Do you want Mr. Arafat to go on television speaking in Arabic, talking to people? What specifically are you suggesting here?

ARMITAGE: Well, I'm specifically suggesting all of that. He's got to make it clear through every organ of the Palestinian authority that he means what he says, that we have to eschew violence as a way to accomplish political means. We've got to get into Tenet and Mitchell. First thing we'll have to have is a cease-fire, and that's what the secretary's staff is looking to try to work out tomorrow.

BORGER: Well, there are also reports that Secretary Powell is going to meet with Mr. Sharon. And is he going to tell Mr. Sharon that he has to withdraw again?

ARMITAGE: Well, it's not a report that he's going to meet with Mr. Sharon. He is going to meet with Prime Minister Sharon at 7:00 p.m. Israel time tonight. He'll certainly inform the prime minister the results of the discussions with Chairman Arafat, and certainly he'll continue the call for withdrawal without delay of Israeli forces.

SCHIEFFER: Well, now, yesterday, Mr. Arafat, when he issued the statement, said, yes, he would try to curb violence but only after the Israelis pulled their forces back. Is there any assurance that any of that is going to happen, Mr. Secretary?

ARMITAGE: Mr. Schieffer, it's the Middle East. I don't think there's an assurance of anything.

However, I would note that you're correct. Mr. Arafat has said he has to have withdrawal in order to accomplish the things that we want him to do. By the same token, I would note news-ticker reports today of an Israeli decision to open up some areas of the West Bank. They have withdrawn from substantial areas and towns in the West Bank. So there is some addressing of the president's call for all parties to live up to their responsibilities.

SCHIEFFER: Well, at this point, then, you are pleased with what Israel has done in the last 24 hours?

ARMITAGE: No, I wouldn't characterize myself as pleased or displeased. I'm a realist. We're looking at a very difficult situation. If it wasn't very difficult, then they'd have sent someone else other than Secretary Powell to try to manage it.

I just take at face value what we're seeing. We're seeing some substantial withdrawals. Clearly, there are other areas that have to be addressed, and we hope the Israelis will do it without delay.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you know, the Israelis have been rather dismissive thus far of what Arafat said. They've been dismissive of his statement. They've basically said, "So what?" Do we have any indication that they're going to take this seriously?

ARMITAGE: Well, there have been, as no one knows better than our Israeli friends, calls or words in the past that talked about eschewing violence. So I think there is a good deal of skepticism on Israel's part.

For our part, Mr. Arafat has done what the president called for, when he specifically required him to denounce the suicide bombing of two days ago. And we're going to try to use that as a basis to move forward.

BORGER: Are U.S. monitors, or even troops, part of any cease-fire proposal?

ARMITAGE: Well, monitors generally, whether U.S. or otherwise, have been part of the conversations surrounding Tenet and Mitchell. There have been no discussions, to my knowledge, of the use of U.S. troops.

BORGER: Is that something that you could envision down the road, perhaps?

ARMITAGE: Well, I wouldn't rule anything in or out, but I don't think necessarily that U.S. troops are the most effective monitors. We're involved in a global war on terrorism, and I find our men and women in the uniformed services to be very well occupied in that.

BORGER: But some kind of multinational force, perhaps?

ARMITAGE: I wouldn't want to put a label on in the advance of having something in hand. But the idea and the concept of monitors is one that has been discussed.

SCHIEFFER: The whole idea of this becoming a regional conflict, how concerned are you about that, Mr. Secretary?

ARMITAGE: We're quite concerned, Mr. Schieffer. That's why Secretary Powell went to the Northern Command headquarters to see firsthand the shelling from Hezbollah into northern Israel. We're doing our best to get friends to exert pressure on Iran to restrain Hezbollah. We have sent messages. Vice President Cheney has contacted the Syrians about the absolute need to use their influence to restrain Hezbollah and not have this break out into a two-front conflict.

BORGER: What about reports of atrocities in the Palestinian camp of Jenin? What do you know about those reports?

ARMITAGE: Well, I know that Jenin, as a general matter, is assuming almost mythical proportions.

That's why Secretary Powell called on Israel to allow international humanitarian workers into the region as quickly as possible and into Jenin, so that we can put to rest, hopefully, this growing controversy.

BORGER: Well, are you saying that it's assumed mythical proportions, therefore the stories about atrocities are not true?

ARMITAGE: No, I'm not saying they're true or not until the international community can get in there, find out what did or did not happen, and then this thing continues to grow.

SCHIEFFER: Time magazine reports this morning that one of the things in the secretary's briefcase, as he went in today to talk to Mr. Arafat, was some sort of proposal to perhaps extend recognition -- I mean, we all know the United States, this administration, has said it is for a Palestinian state, but to extend recognition to a Palestinian state sooner rather than later.

Can you tell us anything about that?

ARMITAGE: Well, although I didn't pack the secretary's briefcase, I generally know what's in it. And what's in it is the president's vision of a Palestinian state living in peace side by side with an Israeli state, secure in their own borders. And in order to get that, they have to have a cease-fire and we've got to get to Tenet/Mitchell. And that's what the secretary's carrying.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

ARMITAGE: Yes, Mr. Schieffer, thank you.

SCHIEFFER: Thank you so much.

And we'll be back in a moment with Senators Chuck Schumer and Chuck Hagel, in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: With us now from New York City to talk about all of this, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer; here in our studio, Nebraska's Republican Senator Chuck Hagel.

Senator Hagel, you heard from Deputy Secretary Armitage just said, and he talked about trying to somehow ratchet this violence down. Do you think, in fact, it is even possible to get the violence down to nothing, before you start negotiations?

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL, R-NE: Secretary Armitage said something that's very key here, and that is, as you just stated, understand the reality of what we are about here. This is difficult, this is dangerous, and this is delicate.

We must be careful not to allow ourselves to be held captive to the zero-tolerance level of no violence, no bombings, no nothing or we won't talk. Because when we do that, only the terrorists win.

The reality is that what we can do and we should be playing toward in trying to stay two and three steps ahead of this is to get this violence ratcheted down, as you say. That is immediate. That must happen. All sides must be part of that.

But we have to be realistic enough to know that this is not something that you can turn off like a spigot. I suspect -- I wish it was, but the expectations here have to be factored into the reality of what we're dealing with here. So if we can take this one step at a time, that's what's important.

The last thing I would say about this is it's important to give Secretary Powell and the president a wide range of options here. We have to be careful on Capitol Hill, it seems to me, not to close off too much here. Let them work this through.

This is difficult. This is an issue that has bedeviled every president since Harry Truman. No one has been able to get their arms around this. It isn't going to happen in one visit. Probably not going to happen in one month.

It's going to take time, but we have to build this new foundation now -- Tenet, Mitchell and, by the way, I would say Crown Prince Abdullah's plan that he put on the table a few weeks ago.

SCHIEFFER: All right, Senator Schumer?

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER, D-NY: Well, I certainly agree with Chuck, that trying to ratchet this violence down is very, very important.

The one problem that you have is that Yasser Arafat doesn't fail simply to ratchet the violence down; he encourages it. His own Al-Aqsa Brigades create the violence. I don't think you're going to get any kind of real talks until it is clear that this homicide bombings that kill innocent men, women and children on the streets of every Israeli city are greatly limited.

The Israelis have never said there should be none of it, which is pretty amazing in itself, but it certainly has to be that Arafat is making a sincere effort to do it. And thus far, he's aiding and abetting the violence. They've shown documentation in the last few days where one of his top lieutenants who reports directly to him, is buying the explosives and helping send the brigades out there.

That's the real problem. And the problem I fail to see is, everyone says that Yasser Arafat is essential to peace. Every time he's been involved, it's fallen apart.

BORGER: So, Senator Schumer, do you say that we should then just stop dealing with Yasser Arafat?

SCHUMER: No, I don't think we should stop dealing with him. I do think we have to -- you know, the Israelis time and time again have given Yasser Arafat the list of suicide bombers, the people who make the bombs, and pleaded with him, "Please, arrest them." And the fact that he hasn't, gives Israel no choice to try and apprehend them themselves.

And so, letting them do that job and then have Colin Powell come in, as Chuck Hagel says, over the long term, to try and make peace make sense.
But until you greatly lessen these homicide bombers, there cannot be any kinds of real negotiation and peace, and Arafat has refused to that. Yes, you twist his arm hard and he issues a half-baked statement, but he does no action.

SCHIEFFER: Well, was it too soon to be talking to Yasser Arafat? Is today too soon?

SCHUMER: Well, I am -- far more problematic to me is preventing the Israelis from doing what they have to do to apprehend these homicide bombers.

I also wonder, Yasser Arafat has always tried to wiggle out of making the tough decision. The Clinton negotiators now say the reason that Oslo and Taba failed was because of Arafat. Today's paper, Martin Inkyk, says he's great at survival but he doesn't have one ounce of statesmanship in him.

So sometimes you say you have to be strong with him and say, "Until you do this, you can't be a legitimate leader." And so far, he hasn't done it.

So it's an awful situation. It's just an awful situation. But every time we've tried to rely on Arafat, he has wiggled away.

BORGER: Well, Senator Schumer seems to be saying that you should not push the Israelis to withdraw right now until Arafat proves that he can do something about the suicide bombing.

SCHUMER: No, Gloria, I wouldn't push the Israelis to withdraw until they can apprehend most of the suicide bombers.

BORGER: That's what I...

SCHUMER: That will take another week of two. And then have Powell come in like gangbusters and try to make peace.

BORGER: Well, Senator Hagel, what's your position on that? Should the Israelis withdraw now?

HAGEL: All these actions that the president called upon Israel, Palestinians and Arab leaders to take, a week ago Thursday, must happen concurrently. All these things have to start happening.

Now, we have seen some of that activity occur. We just heard Secretary Armitage talk a little bit about answering your question about Israeli withdrawal, but that is a big part of this. That has to be part of it.

Now, that gets us actually to the end game up front now. And what is that? What is the end game here? Is the end game, let this go on and on and on and where the Israelis just finally push the Palestinians into the Jordan river? I don't think so.

The end game must be a Palestinian state. How then do we get there? So the end game must be up front to incentivize both sides to take this kind of action.

That means the questions you ask Secretary Armitage about American troops guaranteeing this peace, NATO troops, somebody in there, all has to now, seems to me, be on the table.

The time for nibbling around the edges is over. We're seeing an escalation of a magnitude that we've probably never seen with the current unprecedented violence. And so, all this now must be moved forward, and we must think in wider-lens terms than we've ever thought before.

SCHIEFFER: Well, I...

SCHUMER: I agree with that, Chuck, but I would tell you this. The vast majority of Israelis are willing to recognize a Palestinian state. They don't want to move to the Jordan. They're a few extremists. The vast majority of Palestinian people, at least by all the pronouncements and everything else, including Yasser Arafat's own statements to his people, don't want to recognize a Jewish state. What the heck is Israel to do?

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you this question, Senator Schumer. You just heard what Senator Hagel said about everything must be on the table, including the possibility of U.S. troops perhaps.

Do you think that this Congress would approve sending American military people as peacekeepers or to work in some sort of DMZ between these two until this can be -- this violence can be somehow eliminated or toned down?

SCHUMER: I think you'd have see a very clear plan of what the goal is.

The trouble with U.S. troops or monitors or any monitors is, that these homicide bombers sort of sneak across parts of the border and blow themselves up. It doesn't lend itself to monitoring.

And so, if there is a way where the monitoring can go into the camps in Jenin and stop the suicide bombers from creating these bombs and then going into pizza shops and restaurants and blowing themselves up and killing so many innocents, maybe. But you would have to see a plan as to how that's going to work. I've never seen one.

HAGEL: One other quick point on this. You know we have had American troops in the Middle East for some time in the Sinai -- the MFO, the multilateral force that guaranteed the peace between Egypt and Israel, if you remember that. So it's not unprecedented.

And the fact is, as the Israelis are going to have to pull back, there is no question in my mind that that's all part of brining a regional stablization and security to not just that area, but to Israel. Then someone's going to have guarantee that peace.

And I see, as I say again, all that has to go up front now and how we decide that, and how we incentivize Israel as well as the Palestinians to do their part.

SCHIEFFER: Well, gentlemen, I'm very sorry, but we're out of time.
We'll have to leave it right there.

Thanks to both of you this morning.

SCHUMER: Thank you.

HAGEL: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: I'll be back with a final word in just a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: Finally today, while Dan Rather's been in Jerusalem these past two weeks, I've been watching this story in New York, something I've done many times over the years.

And early one morning, I went down to Ground Zero. As I stood there in that place where so many people died, it was difficult for me to criticize the Israelis for doing what we have been doing: tracking down people who have no qualms about killing the innocent.

But when I heard a young Palestinian woman later in the week say on television she would gladly become a suicide bomber and leave her only child to be an orphan, it helped me to understand also just how deep the hatred runs that fuels all of this.

Until Palestinians and Israelis can find a way to live together -- the Palestinians in their own state and the Israelis in security -- until terrorism is eliminated as a political option, no one anywhere can be safe.

If terrorism succeeds in the Middle East, it will succeed everywhere. And that is why the United States cannot turn away from this.

I have no sympathy for Yasser Arafat himself. Had he been more willing to compromise, the hard-line government that now rules Israel would not have come to power.

But for the United States to turn away from trying to settle this would be like the only fire department in town refusing to put out a house fire because it didn't like the man who owned the house. This fire threatens to set the whole neighborhood afire.

No deal can work in the Middle East unless both sides believe it is a good deal. No matter how difficult it will be to get to that, we have to keep at it, for our own sake.

That's it for us. We'll see you next week right here on Face the Nation.



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