Two-state solution out of reach, ex-CIA head says
By SHELDON KIRSHNER, Staff Reporter, Canadian Jewish News, Feb. 28, 2008
TORONTO — The former director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, R. James Woolsey, Jr., right, says a two-state solution to resolve Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians is out of reach for now.
Visiting Toronto recently as a guest of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, he said that Iran, contrary to a recent report, has not halted its nuclear weapons program.
Woolsey, as well, declared that a precipitous American withdrawal from Iraq would be disastrous for the United States and Israel.
At a press conference, Woolsey – the CIA’s director from 1993 to 1995 – said that a two-state solution will be unattainable until the Palestinian school system in the West Bank and Gaza is reformed and overhauled.
He charged that Palestinian educators, having fallen under the sway of a radical strain of Saudi Arabian Islam known as Wahhabism, demonize Israel, oppose coexistence and churn out suicide bombers.
Later, in an interview, Woolsey cited this factor as one of the reasons why the current talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will not yield a peace treaty by the end of 2008, as envisaged by U.S. President George W. Bush at last November’s U.S.-sponsored Annapolis summit.
“The chances that Israel and the Palestinians will reach an agreement are close to nil,” he said, adding that a Palestinian state can only emerge if “a bunch of things change.”
Woolsey, a conservative Democrat who supports the presidential ambitions of Republican Senator John McCain and advises him on energy issues, said the Palestinians won’t achieve statehood unless they satisfy a number of conditions.
First, they must grant the Jewish inhabitants of Israeli settlements in the West Bank the right to live there as equal citizens and in a state of security.
Second, Fatah – the party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas – must fully recognize Israel’s existence and sovereignty as a Jewish state.
Third, the Palestinians must accept that Israel’s demand for border adjustments is perfectly understandable.
Turning to Iran, he suggested that the National Intelligence Estimate, issued by 16 U.S. spy agencies last December, is misleading.
In a startling assessment, these agencies concluded that Iran froze its nuclear weapons program in 2003, but that Iran is nevertheless continuing to produce enriched uranium, the prerequisite component of an atomic bomb.
Woolsey – currently a board member of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy – said that Iran has merely halted the design and fabrication of warheads on ballistic missiles, the least difficult aspect of building a nuclear arsenal.
He said that Iran is still working on the hardest part, the enrichment of uranium.
Advising the United States to ramp up economic pressure on Iran, Woolsey said that Washington should consider cutting off Iranian oil exports and imposing tough sanctions on its Revolutionary Guards.
Claiming that Iran is bent on dominating the Middle East and is suppressing its own population, he urged the United States to leave all options open, including the use of military force.
Woolsey came out against a move by the United States to engage Iran in talks to defuse tensions. “We should weaken Iran and extend sanctions.”
He said that McCain, the presumptive Republican candidate in this year’s presidential election, would not tolerate Iran’s acquisition of nuclear arms.
Woolsey expressed sharp opposition to a fast U.S. pullout from Iraq. “We should only withdraw when Al Qaeda in Iraq is defeated.”
He said that the “surge” – the positioning of more American troops in strategic areas of Iraq – is proving useful in dealing blows to the insurgency.
“We have a chance of turning the war around,” said Woolsey, who in 1998 signed a letter sent to then-U.S. president Bill Clinton calling for the removal of Iraq’s president, Saddam Hussein.
Saying that the United States fought the war “very badly” for the first three years after its 2003 invasion, Woolsey noted that its outmoded, Vietnam-era search-and-destroy methods were a failure. The present clear-and-hold policy can defeat the insurgents, he said.
Warning that an immediate U.S. withdrawal would be an “absolute disaster,” Woolsey said it would embolden Islamic radicals and thus damage American and Israeli interests.
On the day Woolsey spoke, the leader of the Iraqi branch of Al Qaeda proposed that Iraq should be used as a launching pad to “liberate Palestine.”
Likening the U.S. presence in Iraq to its post-war occupations of Germany and Japan, he said that the United States will most likely maintain a garrison in Iraq for many years to come.
He said the decision to invade Iraq and depose Saddam was sound.
In an analysis of Israel’s border war with Hezbollah in 2006, Woolsey said that Israel gained very little from it, and that a second round is possible due to the support Hezbollah receives from Syria and Iran.
He added that Israel should have bombed Syrian military sites in retaliation for Syria’s supply of short-range and long-range missiles to Hezbollah.
Woolsey advised Israel neither to resume direct peace talks with Syria nor to relinquish the Golan Heights.
“There is no advantage for Israel to reopen talks. If Israel had deeply wounded Syria in 2006, negotiations would have been a good idea. Now, Israel would be bargaining from a position of weakness. Israel should not give up the Golan. The Syrian government wouldn’t abide by any agreement.”
On the day he made these comments, Bush ordered new sanctions to punish Syria for allegedly trying to undermine Iraq’s stability and undercut Lebanon’s independence.
Woolsey applauded the assassination of a top Hezbollah commander, Imad Mugniyah, in Damascus this month.
“Whoever killed him is on my side. He was one of the most rotten bastards in the Middle East.”
Woolsey called on the United States to free itself of its dependence on Arab oil, hunt for more oil on its own soil and look for alternative energy sources.