FTN - 4/7/02

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BOB SCHIEFFER, Chief Washington Correspondent: Today on Face the Nation, President Bush says Middle East violence must stop, but what if it doesn't?

The president said yesterday that the Israeli military campaign must end, but there are no signs of secession. Will Prime Minister Sharon heed his words? How can suicide bombers be stopped? And what is the mission for Secretary of State Powell, who heads to the region tonight?

We'll talk with former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has become the spokesman for the Israeli government; President Bush's national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice, who is in Texas with the president; and to get the Arab view, Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher.

Gloria Borger will be here, and I'll have a final word on tending the garden.

But first, the crisis in the Middle East on Face the Nation.

And we begin this morning in Crawford, Texas, with the White House national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice.

Dr. Rice, thank you for being with us.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, National Security Advisor: Good morning.

SCHIEFFER: Let's get right to it. The president has told Ariel Sharon to stop the incursions into the Palestinian territories, and the Israelis keep on going. What now?

RICE: The president had a conversation with Prime Minister Sharon yesterday, Secretary Powell with Prime Minister Sharon this morning, and we expect that General Zinni will see him later in the day.

And the message is very clear: Israel is our friend, and this American friend of Israel is saying that it is time to begin the withdrawal without delay, because the fundamentals for peace are themselves at risk here. And the president is going to continue to deliver that message, and he expects results.

SCHIEFFER: Well, so far, though, there have been no results. The Israelis show no sign of letting up.

RICE: The president and the prime minister had a very candid and good conversation yesterday. The president understands the difficult situation in which Israel finds itself, and, indeed, he was very strong in supporting Israel's right to defend itself.

But the methods that Israel is now using to defend itself put at risk the longer-term peace. And so the president said to Prime Minister Sharon, "I really ask you to listen to me as a friend. I really ask you to think about the consequences of what you're doing here. And it's important and it must be without delay." The president several times yesterday used the word "now."

SCHIEFFER: Is there some kind of timetable here? Will there be consequences if Mr. Sharon continues to ignore the president's call?

RICE: I think we need not get into hypotheticals about what might happen next. I think, Bob, the key point here and the clear message to the Israelis is that we understand that a military mobilization of this kind, an operation of this size cannot be undone in moments, but the important point is to be begin now, without delay. Not tomorrow, not when Secretary Powell gets to the region, but now, to reverse the situation, because there's a lot at stake here.

And Israel is not able to secure itself alone. It needs the support of its neighbors.

GLORIA BORGER, U.S. News & World Report: So, Dr. Rice, you're saying it has to begin now. If it has to begin now, when does it have to end? When do they have to be done with this withdrawal?

RICE: I don't think that we want to try and develop timetables. Obviously, as soon as possible.

But the important thing is to -- to change the dynamic here. The dynamic on the ground is terrible, and the president spoke on Thursday because he believed that we were at a tipping point. We were at a point at which we're either going to go forward and get back to the more hopeful circumstances in which we found ourselves on Wednesday of just last week, when it looked as if -- or a little over a week ago, when it looked as if General Zinni was about to get a cease fire when the crown prince of Saudi Arabia's initiative was beginning to gain some steam among the Arab states.

We're either going to get back on that path, or this is going to spiral downward. That's why the president spoke. That's why he's sending Secretary Powell to the region. And we believe that we're going to get results.

BORGER: Dr. Rice, do you believe that you have to get permission fro the Israeli cabinet for Secretary Powell to meet with Yasser Arafat?

RICE: Secretary Powell hopes to be able to meet with whomever he needs to to carry out his mission.

And I would just note that General Zinni did meet with Chairman Arafat and the Israelis facilitated that. Clearly, it has to be facilitated by the Israelis in order for the secretary to meet with Chairman Arafat.

But the secretary is going to the region with a broad mandate to do what he needs to do, and we expect all parties to cooperate with him.

BORGER: What exactly would you say that the Israelis are doing that doesn't -- I'm sorry -- what exactly do you think the Israelis are doing that doesn't adhere to the Bush doctrine on terrorism? Bush doctrine says you have to rout out terrorism where it exists. Aren't they doing that?

RICE: Well, of course, you have to rout out terrorism where it exists. And the president had been supportive of Israel's right to defend itself. And indeed, they have routed out some terrorist nests.

But the Bush doctrine also recognizes that the fight against terrorism has to be fought along a broad set of fronts, that you have to be able to choke off terrorist financing. And that's why president put an emphasis, on Thursday, on the moderate Arab states that need to make certain that these terrorist organizations cannot be funded.

The Bush doctrine says that it's important to have a consistent message about terrorism, not to incite it. And that's why he's called upon the Palestinian leadership and the Arabs not to incite terrorism. You need the cooperation also of your neighbors, in the case of Israel, to fight terrorism.

And the president expects leadership not just from Israel in this regard, but also from the Palestinian leadership, which, frankly, has not shown the kind of strength and leadership that is needed to fight terrorism.

So the Bush doctrine recognizes the importance of routing out terrorism. We also recognize in the United States and have, in our war on terrorism, used a variety of means, not just military means, to get the job done.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you know, Dr. Rice, that does bring up an interesting point. You talk about the Palestinians have not done enough. At what point does Yasser Arafat -- what point do we reach with Yasser Arafat when we will no longer deal with him? I mean, what does he have to do to disqualify himself as a person that we will deal with?

RICE: Well, the president has made no secret of his disappointment with Chairman Arafat.

And part of the goal here has to be to get the Palestinian leadership to stop stoking the resentment of its people, to stop talking as if people who go and blow up teenaged kids in restaurants or in discotheques are somehow martyrs, and to deal seriously with terrorism.

Now, if Chairman Arafat is unable to do that, then others are going to have to do it, if the Palestinian people are going to find a way forward.
The Arab states have a role to play here, too.

Chairman Arafat is, obviously, the leader of the Palestinian people. He has not led them very well. And it is high time for everyone to stop showing sympathy for where he is and to tell him that he's got to be called to account to do something for his people, because the conditions of his people are not getting better while he refuses to act.

SCHIEFFER: The Palestinian leaders say that, unless Secretary Powell speaks with Mr. Arafat on this trip, they're not going to deal with him.
While at the same time, you have Mr. Sharon saying, unless the Israeli cabinet gives its permission, Secretary Powell can't talk to him.

Doesn't that leave the secretary in a real box here, even from the get-go?

RICE: Well, when the secretary arrives in the region, the United States expects him to receive the cooperation that he needs to carry out his mission.

His mission is one of peace. His mission is one to get the parties back on a road to peace using U.N. Resolution 1402, which has a series of steps that will get us back to peace.

But the president, on Thursday, drew a very strong set of lines, and he said that everybody has to act more responsibly than they're acting now.

There is a reason that we have not yet had peace in the Middle East. Yes, the issues are difficult. Yes, they are core and fundamental. But we've also not had, on all sides, a kind of stepping up on the responsibilities, the Arab states, the Palestinian leadership and, indeed, the Israelis have some difficult things to do.

So Secretary Powell is expecting and the president is expecting that Secretary Powell will get the cooperation that he needs to carry this mission forward.

SCHIEFFER: Dr. Rice, thank you so much for joining us this morning.
Thank you.

RICE: Thank you very much. Good to be with you.
SCHIEFFER: And now for another side of it, we go to Jerusalem and the former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, now an official spokesman for the Israeli government.

Well, you heard the national security advisor there, Mr. Netanyahu. She said that the president expects Secretary Powell to get the cooperation he needs.
Will the Israeli cabinet give him the permission that he will need to see Yasser Arafat?

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Former Israeli Prime Minister: I don't know. And I should correct your introduction of me. I am not an official spokesman of the government, simply because I'm a private citizen. I told the prime minister when I met with him a few days ago that I would gladly help present Israel's most basic case, but I'm not a spokesman for day-to-day policies.

And the basic -- the most basic case we have is indeed the one you've just heard from the national security advisor, the very able Condoleezza Rice, and with a very, very courageous and bold president who's taken on terrorism.

And that is that democracies, or any society attacked by terrorism, has a right to defend itself. And Israel is merely exercising that right as we speak.

SCHIEFFER: Well, did not -- I don't want to belabor this, because it's not all that important -- but did not the prime minister ask you to speak for Israel? That was my understanding when I introduced you as such.

NETANYAHU: Yes, for Israel, but I don't want to get you into the nitty-gritty of the Israeli policies. I said that it's very difficult for me sometimes to -- I have differences sometimes with this or that aspect of policy. And sometimes within our National Unity government, there's sometimes disunity.


NETANYAHU: So rather than put myself in these questions, I can tell you what I think...

NETANYAHU: ... which I think represents today, by all available polls, what the overwhelming majority of Israelis agree with.

SCHIEFFER: OK, but let's get back to the original question here. Is the cabinet going to give Secretary Powell permission to see Mr. Arafat?

NETANYAHU: I don't know. I think there are much larger issues.

SCHIEFFER: Well, shouldn't they?

NETANYAHU: I really don't know, and I can't speak for the cabinet.

SCHIEFFER: Should they?

NETANYAHU: Well, I think that -- I think that Secretary Powell will always be a welcome guest in Israel. And he represents, I think, a government and an administration that has not been -- there's not been a friendlier presidency, a friendlier team around the president toward Israel and toward principles that Israel deeply cherishes than the Bush administration. There have been, perhaps, as friendly, but I can't think of any.

As far as a decision about Secretary Powell's visit to Arafat, I'll tell you my own view. I think that, at the end of the day, and I hope it's an earlier day rather than later, Arafat has to be removed from the area.

Because this is a man -- it's not merely that he hasn't done enough to stop terrorism. He's done everything he can to foster and sponsor terrorism. He pays -- he signs the checks for the explosives. He calls every night for a million human bombs, what he calls a million martyrs, a million shehuddims to be detonated against Israel. He has suicide kindergarten camps, for God's sake, for 3-and 4-year-old Palestinian boys and girls.

This is a man who has adopted the doctrine of policide, the destruction of a state, using the illegitimate means of terror. And as long as he's here, I don't think we're going to have any move toward peace that the U.S. and we so fervently want, and I believe quite a few Palestinians want but are prevented to speak up because they'll be cut down by Arafat.

BORGER: Mr. Netanyahu, Dr. Rice could also not have been clearer about the president's intent for Israel to stop its incursions "now," she used the word. The president has said "without delay," yet that is not happening.

Aren't you defying what the president has asked you to do?

NETANYAHU: Look, I think the prime minister said that he would end this operation as soon as possible. And "as soon as possible" has to take into account the fact that when you're fighting something as far, as extensive as this terrorist regime par excellence that Yasser Arafat has said here, that sends murderers to kill our people in coffee shops and restaurants and hotels, anywhere on Passover eve, for God's sake, when you have that, then it takes time.

Well, it's taken now the United States and Britain seven months. It took the first bomb from the air -- and by the way, I don't blame them -- seeking to safeguard their troops. Seven months into it, they still haven't finished the job in Afghanistan. We're not going to take seven months, we're just barely seven days into it. And we're not going to take seven weeks, either. We'll just do it as fast as we can.

And in fact the reason it's taking time is because we're not using massive air power and massive fire power. We're trying to do it slowly to try to save civilian lives, innocents who are caught in the crossfire.

But one thing that President Bush has said, and he's absolutely right, the fact that terrorists deliberately attack and murder civilians and then deliberately hide behind civilians doesn't give them immunity, not in Afghanistan and not in Arafatistan.

And we have to go and rout them out, and we're doing it very slowly. If we do it faster, it will simply be a loss of greater -- a greater loss of innocent lives.

SCHIEFFER: But it seems to me, the bottom line here of what you're saying this morning, Mr. Netanyahu, is you can't say how long this is going to take, is that right?

NETANYAHU: No, I can't. The army has said -- that's correct. I don't know, because the army says that it will take, they need four weeks. Whether that can be accelerated in 10 days, I think, or nine days have gone by, I think it could be accelerated by a simple equation which I, frankly, am not sure that people fully understand.

The slower it is, the less firepower you need. The faster it is, the more firepower you need, because you don't go carefully from house to house. You basically give a warning, and if people come out, fine, and if not, you flatten the house, which is not where you want to go.

We've risked our people on the ground in order to avoid civilian casualties. We've lost quite a few soldiers in the process.

But we are doing essentially what the president says that a democracy can do and must do in the face of the greatest terror -- the greatest continuous terror that any society has experienced.

SCHIEFFER: All right.

NETANYAHU: You have had the greatest act of terror in history in Manhattan and in the Pentagon. We have had the greatest accumulation of acts of terror that have now brought us, on a per capita basis, eight times the casualties that you have sustained in the World Trade Center.

We have to take care, in my opinion, to do two things: to clean out the area as fast as possible, and to eventually remove Arafat. The faster that happens, the sooner we'll get on to the job of having a genuine peace with our Palestinian...

SCHIEFFER: We must end it there. Mr. Netanyahu, thank you so much for being here this morning.

NETANYAHU: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: Back in a moment with the Jordanian foreign minister.

NETANYAHU: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: Thank you, sir.


SCHIEFFER: We're back now with the Jordanian foreign minister, Marwan Muasher.

Mr. Foreign Minister, thank you so much for being here.

How dangerous is the Middle East at this point? Is this going to spill over? Because just last week we saw demonstrations in your country by Palestinians there.

MARWAN MUASHER, Jordanian Foreign Minister: It is spilling over already, and it is radicalizing the whole Arab world. This recent Israeli incursion really has brought the outrage of millions of people around the Arab world.

And this is the message that we are carrying here, that we need to do something about it, because this has stopped to be just a Palestinian-Israeli affair, and this has become an Arab-Israeli affair. This is threatening the whole peace process and decades of what we've been trying to do, certainly since the Middle East peace process.

SCHIEFFER: You heard Benjamin Netanyahu just now saying he doesn't know how long this is going to take. What will the effect of that be?

MUASHER: We believe very strongly that peace will not come through terror. But we also believe that peace will not come through humiliation and through military might.

The time has come to start the political process and end the occupation, and that time is now. It is not a week from now; it is not any time but now. And this is why we strongly support the president's statement of last Thursday and Secretary Powell to the region.

BORGER: You also heard Mr. Netanyahu talk about expelling Yasser Arafat. What would the reaction be in your country if that occurred?

MUASHER: Yasser Arafat is the elected leader of the Palestinian people. He is the symbol for Palestinian aspiration. Yasser Arafat is today a hero, not just among the Palestinians, but among the whole Arab world because of the Israeli incursion.

I think the talking about an alternative to Yasser Arafat is a non-starter.

Whether you like him or not, he is the leader of the Palestinians and he is the address to which we have to go to.

BORGER: Do you believe that Colin Powell has to meet with Yasser Arafat on this trip?

MUASHER: Yes, I do. I believe Secretary Powell has to meet with all the key leaders, and Yasser Arafat is the leader of the Palestinians. It would be really absurd to meet with all the parties to the conflict without meeting with Yasser Arafat.

SCHIEFFER: The secretary is going to visit various Arab leaders before he gets to Jerusalem. Can the Arabs bring pressure on the Palestinian side, as you are hoping that Mr. Powell will bring pressure on the Israeli side?

MUASHER: I've talked about this with the secretary, and I said that we all have our part to do. I think the Arabs are ready to do everything in their power to move the peace process forward. I do think also the United States has to show the leadership and the commitment to the peace process to convince people that it is serious about peace.

You've heard Mr. Netanyahu say that, even though the secretary and the president himself asked for the Israeli army to withdraw, Mr. Sharon is not listening. We have to see a committed United States, not just to end the security situation, but to start a political process that would end in ending the occupation.

The Arab states have moved forward in the Arab summit and have put together an initiative that offers a collective commitment to end the conflict: security guarantees for Israel, normal relations between every other state and Israel, and an agreed solution to the refugee problem. We have stepped up, and we stand ready to work with the United States and with everyone. But we need, I think, everyone -- the Israelis, the Palestinians, and the United States -- to be equally committed to the process.

SCHIEFFER: Well, what can the Arab states say to Mr. Arafat? Can they press him to condemn this terrorism, the suicide bombings, which he at this point has refused to do?

MUASHER: We need...

SCHIEFFER: Should he do that?

MUASHER: Yes, of course. We all should stand very strongly against terrorism. Suicide bombings are not the answer. Humiliation and the occupation are not the answer, either, and this is why we are pushing for a political process.

This is not about just ending the security situation. The time has come to end the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for all. We are attempting to do that through the Arab initiative. And I think that you will find that the Arab states will be very forthcoming in this as long as we are convinced that there is a credible political process that would take us to the end of the occupation within a specified time frame.

BORGER: Very quickly, some Arab nations met over the weekend, and they are threatening economic sanctions against Israel. Would you support that?

MUASHER: We have a peace treaty with Israel. We have economic relations with Israel. This is not about economic relations, this is about ending the conflict.

I think the Arab world has stepped forward in the Arab summit last week through the Arab initiative. We need the Israelis to step forward as well.

BORGER: So you would not -- you would not support it?


SCHIEFFER: Thank you very much, Mr. Minister. Very enlightening.

Thank you.

MUASHER: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: Back in a moment with a final word.


SCHIEFFER: Finally today, Voltaire, the great mind of the enlightenment, spent his life contemplating the question that has vexed mankind since we first began to reason: "From whence does evil come? If God is loving, how can it come from God? Is God is all powerful, why hasn't he stopped it?"

In the end, Voltaire decided that evil was eternal, but understanding where it came from was beyond human comprehension. The important thing, he said, "was not to understand its origins, but to confront it." His critics countered, "But if it is eternal, what difference does it make to challenge it?"

Voltaire said, "That was like weeds in a garden. To conclude that we should not pull them because we know they will come back would mean there could be no garden"' Voltaire said, "We must always tend the garden."

As Colin Powell leaves tonight on one more mission to try and broker a peace in the Middle East, a mission the administration at first resisted, we should remember the wisdom of Voltaire.

The question now is not who is right. In the Middle East, both sides are probably right. The question now is how to confront the killing and get it stopped.

The possibility of failure is real, but events are on the verge of spinning our of control. Radicals are now threatening the regimes of moderate Arab governments. The whole region could be set aflame.

Once again, the United States must tend the garden. We have little choice.

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