Bahai News - HOUSE COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS HOLDS
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE BENJAMIN GILMAN (R-NY)
(Washington Transcript Service) ; 07-29-1998< p>
CHAIRMAN HOLDS HEARING ON RECENT
DEVELOPMENTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS HOLDS HEARING ON RECENT
DEVELOPMENTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
JULY 29, 1998
SPEAKERS: U.S. REPRESENTATIVE BENJAMIN A. GILMAN (R-NY), CHAIRMAN
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAM F. GOODLING (R-PA)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE JAMES A. LEACH (R-IA)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE HENRY J. HYDE (R-IL)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE DOUG BEREUTER (R-NE)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH (R-NJ)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE DAN BURTON (R-IN)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE ELTON GALLEGLY (R-CA)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R-FL)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE CASS BALLENGER (R-NC)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE DANA ROHRABACHER (R-CA)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE DONALD A. MANZULLO (R-IL)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE EDWARD R. ROYCE (R-CA)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE PETER T. KING (R-NY)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE JAY KIM (R-CA)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE STEVE CHABOT (R-OH)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE MARSHALL "MARK" SANFORD (R-SC)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE MATT SALMON (R-AZ)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE AMO HOUGHTON (R-NY)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE TOM CAMPBELL (R-CA)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE JON D. FOX (R-PA)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE JOHN M. MCHUGH (R-NY)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE LINDSEY O. GRAHAM (R-SC)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE ROY BLUNT (R-MO)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE KEVIN BRADY (R-TX)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE RICHARD M. BURR (R-NC)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE LEE H. HAMILTON (D-IN), RANKING
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE SAM GEJDENSON (D-CT)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE TOM LANTOS (D-CA)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE HOWARD L. BERMAN (D-CA)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE GARY L. ACKERMAN (D-NY)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA (D-AS)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE MATTHEW G. MARTINEZ (D-CA)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE DONALD M. PAYNE (D-NJ)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE ROBERT E. ANDREWS (D-NJ)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE ROBERT MENENDEZ (D-NJ)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE SHERROD BROWN (D-OH)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE CYNTHIA A. MCKINNEY (D-GA)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE ALCEE L. HASTINGS (D-FL)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE PAT DANNER (D-MO)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE EARL F. HILLIARD (D-AL)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE BRAD SHERMAN (D-CA)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE ROBERT WEXLER (D-FL)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE STEVEN R. ROTHMAN (D-NJ)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE BOB CLEMENT (D-TN)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE BILL LUTHER (D-MN)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE JIM DAVIS (D-FL)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE ELLEN TAUSCHER (D-CA)
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE ROBERT BRADY (D-PA)
MARTIN INDYK, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR NEAR
GILMAN: The committee will come to order.
Today the Committee on International Relations is convening another
hearing on developments in the Middle East. We are pleased to have
Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs Martin Indyk join us.
INDYK: Good morning, Mr. Chairman.
GILMAN: Our last hearing on Middle East regional concerns took place in
early March. Today, over our months later, changes in U.S. policy on a
number of matters have taken place. Of particular note are
administration statements and actions regarding Iran, Libya and Iraq.
In her remarks on June 17th, Secretary of State Albright laid out a road
map for improved relations between Iran and the United States. Yet, that
map contains no landmarks or any road signs indicating what steps, if
any, we should be taking to begin the process.
The missile test conducted on July 21st by Iran poses serious national
security challenges for our nation and our allies in that region --
particularly a follow-on test (OFF-MIKE) allow that country to put a
medium- and long-range missile force in place.
Iran appears to be going full speed ahead with its weapons of mass
destruction programs, including the means to deliver them. There is
little indication that Russian entities have stopped supplying Iran with
key missile assistance and the technology needed to put its missile
force in place.
Accordingly, the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act was adopted by
overwhelming margins in both the House and the Senate. This legislation
requires sanctions on foreign entities that assist Iran's ballistic
missile programs. Yet, the administration vetoed the legislation on
June 23rd on the grounds that it would be counterproductive in obtaining
Russian government cooperation to stop the technology transfers.
The promise of an executive order delayed a congressional veto override.
But an override is still possible.
We also have serious concerns about how to address the ongoing threats
from Iraq. As you know, just a few days ago, the committee marked up a
resolution finding Iraq in material breach of its requirements of the
We differ also with the administration over how to support opposition
As for Libya, the administration has shifted course and now agrees to
allow a Scottish court, sitting at The Hague, to try the two Libyan
intelligence agents accused of masterminding the 1988 bombing of Pan
American flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
That proposal was offered by Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi in 1994, but
our nation and the United Kingdom rejected it because we wanted the
suspects extradited to Scotland or to the United States. We hope to
learn more from Secretary Indyk about the administration's change in
policy and what prompted it.
And as always, the Middle East peace process looms large. The Israelis
and Palestinians are now in face-to-face negotiations, begun just as a
Palestinian terrorist, thankfully, failed to detonate a car bomb on
Jaffa (ph) Road.
Chairman Arafat, now in Austria, according to (OFF-MIKE), continues to
call for international pressure on Israel on the heels of an Egyptian
promotion of a joint initiative with France to convene an international
conference that would further pressure Israel.
Additionally, the Jerusalem Committee of the Organization of Islamic
Conference meets today at their foreign minister level in Rabat,
Morocco, and the Tunisian government has apparently decided to close its
trade office in Tel Aviv.
The Tunisian action follows the denial of entry visas to Israelis who
wanted to take part in the European-Mediterranean meetings, as well as
the Tunisian refusal of the United States request to host a Middle
East-North Africa economic summit. It's unhelpful, and we'd like to
know what the State Department is doing to reverse that decision.
INDYK: The Yemeni government has likewise condemned this terrible act;
expressed its condolences directly to the sisters; provided assistance
in the repatriation of the sisters' remains; and stepped up protection
of Christian sites in Yemen.
The suspect is in custody and has been identified as a person with
extremist tendencies. The first report suggested he acted alone,
although the investigation continues.
In contrast to the responsible actions of the government of Yemen in
this horrible incident, the government of Iran this week appears to have
executed a person of the Baha'i faith.
We strongly condemn this action by the Iranian judiciary, which runs
directly counter to Iranian President Khatami's commitments to freedom
and to the rule of law. We note that there are some seven other
Iranians of the Baha'i faith in detention in Iran and urge the
government of Iran to avoid any repetition of the use of capital
punishment against people of faith in that country.
We will be following this matter closely, and we are urging other
governments engaged with direct dialogue with the government of Iran to
express their concerns directly to the Iranian government.
Unfortunately, Mr. Chairman, too many innocent people are dying in the
Middle East. That is one of the reasons that we continue to pursue
vigorously a just, lasting, comprehensive and secure peace in the Middle
Last week, we reached a new stage in our efforts to achieve agreement
between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on the package of ideas we
have presented to both parties aimed at restarting the final status
negotiations. Israelis and Palestinians have now agreed to discuss
directly Israeli refinements to our ideas, which the Israelis are
We are in constant touch with both sides, but believe that it is
essential for them to resolve these issues directly. As soon as they do
so, we stand ready to involve ourselves directly in an effort to bring
this dragged-out negotiation to a successful conclusion. We wish to do
so as quickly as possible.
Iraq, under the brutal rule of Saddam Hussein, continues to be a
potential source of instability in the region. But recent revelations
about Saddam Hussein's continued deceit concerning his weapons of mass
destruction program have reinforced our argument that Iraq is far from
complying with the Security Council resolutions. And these revelations
have helped counter pressure to lift sanctions.
Meanwhile, the expanded UN program to ensure that the basic humanitarian
needs of the Iraqi people are being met, that program is in place, and
the situation of the Iraqi people is now continuing to improve. Using
money appropriated by this Congress, we have also developed a program of
overt support for the Iraqi opposition designed to make it more
politically effective, and to assist in its efforts to document Saddam's
war crimes and to prepare the ground for an indictment of Saddam Hussein
as a war criminal.
On Iran, as you both have noted, the secretary has laid out a process
that, through a series of parallel steps by both governments, could
eventually lead to a more normal relationship with this key regional
power. The reaction in Iran to the secretary's remarks was predictably
mixed, given the ongoing intense political debate in Iran. But this
approach does offer a way forward, if the government of Iran is prepared
Meanwhile, people-to-people exchanges with Iran continue. Last week,
Iran test launched the Shahab-3, a medium-range ballistic missile,
heralding a new and potentially threatening development in the regional
arms race. Although not unexpected, this missile test underscores the
urgency of our efforts to shut down the flow of technology to Iran's WMD
and missile programs, and the importance of helping our friends in the
region develop defenses against this emerging threat, even while we seek
to encourage moderation in Iran's international behavior.
As the 10th anniversary of the bombing of Pan Am 103 approaches in
December of this year, we have also been preoccupied in recent months
with the question of how to bring to justice the Libyan terrorists
responsible. We are discussing with the United Kingdom, and the
government of the Netherlands, the possibility of conducting a trial of
the two suspects in a Scottish court in the Netherlands.
I should emphasize that the president has made no decision on this and
will not consider the matter until we are satisfied that the large
number of complex legal issues have been sorted out. I want to be very
clear on one point, however. The United Nations Security Council
resolutions call for the suspects to be tried in an American or Scottish
court. We are exploring the establishment of a Scottish court in a
A Scottish court means a panel of Scottish judges, applying Scottish
legal procedures and Scottish rules of evidence. It does not mean a
World Court proceeding, and it does not mean an international panel of
Our bottom line remains simple: We seek justice for the 189 American
victims of Pan Am 103 and their families. Any arrangements agreed to
will have to lead to this objective, or if it does not do so because
Qaddafi decides not to deliver the suspects to this court, it will
thereby help to strength -- help us to strengthen the UN sanctions
Mr. Chairman, I have a detailed presentation here of these issues and
others. I would hope that you and the other members of the committee
have a chance to read them. And I stand very ready and willing to
answer your questions.
GILMAN: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
Mr. Secretary, I think you gave an interview to defense reporters
yesterday, in which you said the additional -- that additional
assistance is going to be required for Iran to deploy its 1,200-mile
range Shahab-4 missile with -- what's the administration doing, and what
does it need to do, to prevent Iran from making further progress with
regard to that long-range missile?
INDYK: Mr. Chairman, we have been aware for some time of an aggressive
Iranian effort to acquire technology from foreign sources for the
purposes of developing its missile systems. For the Shabab-4 to be
effectively developed, it will be dependent on significant help from
outside sources of technology.
GILMAN: Where is it getting that help from?
INDYK: It is seeking that help from the usual sources -- Russia, China,
North Korea. And therefore, our similarly aggressive efforts to shut
down that technology flow have to focus on those countries.
As you are aware, we've been working very intensively at the highest
levels -- from the president to the vice president, to the secretary of
state, to the national security adviser -- with the government of Russia
at the highest levels to get them to take strong action to shut down the
flow of technology from Russian companies.
Some progress has been made in that regard in terms of the issuing by
the Russian government of a decree against the export of this technology
-- identifying nine companies that have been involved in this,
announcing investigations of these companies, arresting certain
individuals. And we, too, have now sanctioned seven of those nine
companies for their activities in this regard.
So as I say, some progress is being made. What we need to see now is
effective enforcement of the regulations that the Russian government has
promulgated. And if it does so, we are hopeful that we can succeed in
at least impeding and frustrating the designs of the Iranian government
in this regard.
However, we should be under no illusions: The Iranians have strong
incentives to develop these weapons systems and to deploy them. And this
will be a long-time and full-time effort to try to slow and frustrate
their attempts in this regard.
And I believe, Mr. Chairman, that regardless of who is in power in Iran,
we will see them continuing to make this kind of effort.
GILMAN: Are we monitoring this situation closely? I note that the
president today, or yesterday, imposed sanctions on seven of those
GILMAN: How are we monitoring the progress with regard to those
INDYK: Well, we do that both in consultation with the government of
Russia and by independent means. And we have a very intensive effort
under way not only to try to discover what is going on, but also to
ensure that steps are taken to impede the flow of this technology.
GILMAN: Mr. Secretary, a recent CIA report to Congress mentions of
Egypt, in 1997, continued to obtain ballistic missile components from
North Korea. What's your assessment of Egypt's missile program and why
does Egypt need -- feel it needs ballistic missiles?
INDYK: Mr. Chairman, Egypt stands in stark contrast to Iran in this
area. Egyptians have a Scud force. That is all that they have. In
order to maintain that Scud force, they have been importing some parts
from North Korea.
This is a subject of concern to us, and we have been engaged in
intensive discussions with the Egyptians about this. But the -- as far
as our assessment goes, we do not see Egypt now embarked on an active
effort to acquire medium- or long-range ballistic missiles.
GILMAN: And Mr. Secretary, the Palestinian Authority's status in the UN
has been upgraded to essentially that of a nonvoting delegate. Is this
not a violation of the Oslo accords and what effect will it have on
INDYK: As you may be aware, Mr. Chairman, we strongly opposed this
effort in the United Nations General Assembly and think that working
with the EU member countries we were able to successfully dilute the
efforts by the PLO to upgrade its status in the United Nations, so that
it does not have the ability to act as candidate or the ability to
introduce resolutions and now co-sponsor them.
But these are procedural issues, more symbolic than real in terms of its
upgrading. Nevertheless, we are strongly opposed to it. We have
registered our criticism and opposition to acts like these, which are
unilateral efforts to predetermine the outcome of final status
negotiations. And we have -- will continue to oppose those kinds of
GILMAN: Mr. Secretary, one last question -- according to recent press
reports, both our nation and Israel reached an understanding with regard
to the shape and scope of the next further redeployment, and talks are
currently being held between the Israelis and Palestinians with regard
to that issue. And just last week, both the Israelis and Palestinians
asked for American assistance in moving the discussions further. Are
those reports accurate, and what can you tell us about those?
INDYK: As you are aware, we have, for many months now, been seeking to
reach agreement between the government of Israel and the Palestinian
Authority on a package of steps that both sides would take to implement
their obligations under the interim agreement.
Israel has obligations to a further redeployments and the Palestinians
have a series of obligations to fight terror. And there are other
issues under the interim agreements that they need to implement.
This effort led to the president introducing our own ideas in this
regard back in January of this year in an effort to try to reach an
agreement. Since then, we have been working with both sides.
The Palestinians accepted our ideas in principle, I think back in March,
and we've been working closely with the government of Israel since then
to see if we can get their agreement to our ideas.
Those negotiations made considerable progress. There were two issues on
which the Israelis sought refinements in our ideas. Because we said
that we would stand by our ideas, we urged them to deal with those two
issues in negotiations -- direct negotiations -- with the
We also felt it was important that the two parties engage directly,
because we discovered in this long, drawn-out effort that they have lost
the ability to talk to each other. And even small issues, such as who
uses a particular road in Gaza, was something that they were calling
upon us to resolve.
This, obviously, is a very unhealthy situation, especially in the
context of what we're trying to do to relaunch the final status
negotiations, because if they can't talk to each other and resolve
matters between them on small issues, how are they going to resolve the
very difficult and very sensitive and complex issues involved in the
final status negotiations.
So for both reasons, we felt it was important that they engage directly
with each other. After some back-and-forth and up-and-down that has
come to characterize the nature of their engagement, they finally sat
down to do some serious business last Saturday night when Defense
Minister Mordechai met with Palestinian leader Abu Mazen.
And since then, at a lower level, the Israelis and Palestinians have
been meeting to go over the ideas that the Israelis have now put on the
As I said in my opening remarks, if they can reach agreement on these
issues, then we will re-engage directly in an effort close this.
We remain directly in touch on a daily basis with both sides and
continue to counsel both sides. But in terms of responding to the calls
of both of them for us to become directly engaged, we think it's very
important at this time that they sort it out themselves, as they are
proving themselves capable of doing, and then we will directly re-
engage to try to reach a final agreement.
GILMAN: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
HAMILTON: Mr. Secretary, I was almost amused by your phrase in the
first paragraph. It's a lot -- a lot has happened in your region, but
not much of it is good. And that's certainly my impression. We all
regret that, of course.
But we've had a string of Middle East leaders here. They're all in a
kind of sour mood about events. It's very hard to see any clear
accomplishments in this region in recent months. And there does seem, to
me, to be a kind of a gloom that has settled over this area.
Three of the leaders in this area are very sick men. And they have been
voices of some moderation in recent years. I am speaking of King
Hussein and King Fahd and King Hassan of Morocco.
So I -- in this kind of a situation, I want to get a sense of your
priorities. What are the most important things for the United States to
achieve in an area now that's got this gloomy cast to it?
INDYK: Thank you, Mr. Hamilton. Let me, if I might, just comment on
the leaders that you mentioned. King Hussein yesterday, from the Mayo
Clinic in Rochester, addressed his people on Jordanian television. He
explained to them that he has got cancer, lymphoma B; that he has begun
treatment; and that the doctors are very encouraged by the response to
the treatment, by his response to the treatment, and are hopeful that he
will make a full recovery.
We, of course, send him our best wishes, and I'm sure you do, too. And
we'll be doing everything possible to not only ensure that he makes a
full recovery, but ensure that Jordan enjoys clearly and manifestly the
full support of the United States in this time of concern.
In the case of King Fahd, he also is facing some physical difficulties.
Crown Prince Abdullah, as the regent, will be coming here in September,
and we'll be looking forward to, as I'm sure you will, to engaging in a
discussion with him about many issues that we have in common.
King Hassan I can report to you, since I saw him recently, he's in very
good shape and very encouraged by the way he has managed to bring the
opposition into government -- Prime Minister Yuseffee (ph) taking over
This has been a long project for him, and I think it's been a very
successful effort. And King Hassan, in particular, expressed to me his
desire and willingness to re-engage in the peace process now that he
feels that things are in better order internally in Morocco.
But of course, he's made the point that other Arab leaders who have a
stake in the peace process have made to us, which is that we have to
find a way to move the process forward on the Palestinian track. And in
terms of your question about priorities, that is our first priority and
our most urgent one.
HAMILTON: Is the peace process kind of a lynch pin for everything here
-- in other words, if it moves forward, many things become possible in
the region, and if it doesn't move forward, they become much more
INDYK: Well, it is one of the lynch pins.
HAMILTON: And the others?
INDYK: The others are, I think, what happens with Iraq and what happens
with Iran. But certainly, the prolonged stalemate in the peace process
has infected all the other tracks of the peace process -- as you say,
promoted a very sour mood in which our own credibility has been much
HAMILTON: So the highest priority for the administration at this moment
is to try to move the peace process forward?
INDYK: I would put the highest priorities on the level of moving the
peace process forward. And let me just say, not just getting the
Palestinian track moving, but resuming negotiations on the Syrian and
Lebanese tracks, and also promoting the multilateral process as well.
We'd like to use progress on the Palestinian track as a springboard.
But the highest priority...
HAMILTON: One of the things that impressed me about your statement and
your responses to the chairman is how much responsibility you are
putting on the parties here. In your statement, and then several times
in your extemporaneous remarks, you have said the parties -- talking
about the peace process -- must resolve their differences; they've got
to sort it out themselves; they must reach an agreement. Over and over
again, you've made that point.
Now, I'm kind of curious about that. Are you, with those statements,
trying to -- I presume you are -- trying to put pressure on those
parties to resolve their differences? There's not an awful lot to
encourage us they can resolve those differences. Are you suggesting in
those phrases that the United States is kind of going to be withdrawing
from this process of intimate involvement if these parties can't reach
agreement? What happens if they don't reach an agreement?
INDYK: Look, Mr. Hamilton, we do not have the option of withdrawing
from the peace process. We -- it may be necessary to take a time out
from the peace process if we cannot bring this particular effort to a
We are, as we've said for some time, reaching the end of a very
difficult road in this regard. But we have made the judgment that it is
much more important to try to achieve a breakthrough than simply to
stand back and allow the process to break down and wither away, because
in those circumstances, other parties involved in the peace process will
be under heavy pressure to take negative steps themselves and we could
see a negative spiral take the place of what we have going at the
HAMILTON: Why have we not made public some of the details of our plan?
What's happened, it seems to me, is that the parties have been very
selective about what portions of that plan they comment upon. And what
-- it seems to me it might be helpful if we made public the entire plan
so that they cannot be selective in their comments.
Why haven't we made that public?
INDYK: We haven't done so because we're trying to work with the parties
to try to get an agreement. And we don't believe that putting our plan
out in public, and therefore, stepping up public pressure for them to
accept it is the best way to go while we feel that we still have a
chance of getting an agreement through private diplomacy.
It's true that both sides have leaked various parts of our proposals.
But we have been scrupulous in avoiding either putting them out or
commenting on the accuracy of those reports, some of which are quite
I think that in general what we can say is that we are seeking a
parallel process of implementation of all of the obligations on both
sides. That means, on the Israeli side, the implementation of further
redeployment. But it also means, on the Palestinian side, that they will
have to implement the whole range of obligations that they also signed
up to in terms of fighting terror, cooperating with Israeli security
services in this regard, developing and implementing a work plan to go
after the terrorist infrastructure, preventing incitement...
HAMILTON: So just to kind of sum up here from -- we feel that the
parties now are making enough progress in their private discussions that
it is not necessary for us to take the next step to make public our plan
in full and we have no intention of making that plan public.
INDYK: Well, at the moment, while we believe that the parties are
making progress and that we have a chance of reaching an agreement, we
do not consider it necessary to go public. The secretary has said a
number of times, if we reach the conclusion that we cannot achieve an
agreement, then we will explain why.
And in that context, you know, we will have to make a decision as to
what it is that we say.
But I just wanted to emphasize, Mr. Hamilton, that the effort that we
are undertaking here is to get both sides to implement their
commitments. And that means that there is a very detailed work plan that
the Palestinians have signed up to for the implementation of their
obligations on the security side.
So it's not a zero-sum game here where Israel gives away territory and
gets nothing in return.
HAMILTON: I understand.
GILMAN: Thank you, Mr. Hamilton.
BLUNT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'd like to follow that line of
thought just a little bit further, Ambassador.
It seems to me that -- and I'm sure there must be something that I don't
see here -- that we basically had two different strategies -- one in the
spring and one now.
The current strategy is we're going to be ready to help with the
implementation process. We're not going to come forward with the
specifics of our plan.
The spring strategy, apparently, was to be publicly specific with our
plan. And what -- is there an inconsistency there? Is that consistent
and I don't see it? And I'll follow up.
INDYK: Well, I don't think it's exactly accurate to say that we had a
spring strategy of going public with our plan. As I said, we've been
scrupulous in avoiding going public, although we've been under a lot of
pressure to do so and a lot of pressure not to do so.
BLUNT: What about the specifics of the 13 percent...
INDYK: Well, again, we have never talked in specific numbers publicly.
And I'm not going to do so today.
BLUNT: That number was never discussed by the State Department
INDYK: No, it was not, sir. We have never taken a public position.
INDYK: The -- our ideas on this and other things have leaked out, but
we have never confirmed them publicly.
BLUNT: Did the leaking out of that number do anything to push this
INDYK: I think that it -- if I tried to give an objective analysis,
what one sees, without wishing to confirm the number that you have
mentioned, that there is now a significant majority of Israelis --
consistently public opinion polls show roughly two-thirds of Israelis --
now are supporting that kind of redeployment.
That was not the case when the public discussion of that number first
BLUNT: Once -- once the redeployment occurs and the transfer of
authority is made, what can we do to help ensure that the Palestinian
Authority then follows through with its security commitments? I mean,
the land is transferred; the security commitment were made. But we
really -- how do we help ensure that they follow through?
INDYK: That's a very important question, Mr. Blunt, and something that
we have approached directly in our proposals in several ways. Firstly,
as I was saying to Mr. Hamilton, there is a parallel process of
implementation over a specified period. And we will be involved in
monitoring the implementation on both sides.
But in particular, we will be involved in monitoring the activities when
it comes to security. And this is something that the Palestinians have
sought from us so that there will be an objective assessment of their
performance rather than both sides trading allegations about this.
Secondly, I think it's important to understand that when transfer is --
or when authority is transferred, there are two kinds of arrangements.
Zone A -- territory transfer to Zone A gives the Palestinians complete
control and (ph) authority. Territory transferred to Zone B gives the
Palestinians control of civilian affairs, but gives Israel overall
security responsibility in those areas transferred to the
And that provides for a measure of assurance on the Israeli side that
they, in transferring territory to Zone B, will have the overall
security responsibility, so that the combination of monitoring of
Palestinian implementation of their commitments and arrangements that
allow sensitive areas to remain under overall Israeli security
responsibility, together with our own indirect engagement in the
monitoring process, gives us some assurance in regard to your
BLUNT: Can you tell us anything about the Palestinian security efforts,
the improvement of those efforts, including the level of cooperation and
linkage between the Palestinian security and the Israeli security
INDYK: In recent months, after a prolonged effort on our part to insist
that the Palestinians do more to fight terror, Chairman Arafat and the
Palestinian Authority have been acting against the Hamas, which is the
main terrorist organization in the West Bank and Gaza. They have
arrested a number of bad characters, people involved in terrorism. They
have not released them, as has been their previous practice.
They need to do more. In particular, there has been close cooperation
with some parts of the Palestinian security apparatus, but other parts
have avoided, or refused, contact with their Israeli counterparts. And
that is something that has to be corrected, and that is something we've
also tried to impress upon them.
We believe that, in the context of an agreement, it will be easier to
get that kind of cooperation under way. And so we will be directly
involved in monitoring the implementation of what will be a detailed
work plan for meeting the security concerns in this -- in these terms --
that is, enhanced security cooperation and detailed efforts to deal with
the terrorist threat in the areas under Palestinian control.
GILMAN: The gentleman's time has expired.
BLUNT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
GILMAN: Thank you, Mr. Blunt.
GEJDENSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
What's the alternative to taking a breather at this point? I mean, it
seems to me that the administration, for an extended period of time, has
tried to encourage, to support -- some might even say "cajole" -- the
parties to come to an agreement at this stage. And it seems to me that
at some point, one has to recognize that maybe you just need some time
here for people to come to their senses.
But I guess my question is, what else can you do that you haven't done
that would move the process forward?
INDYK: Well, we, as I said before, are really coming to the end of our
ability to invent more things to do. But at the same time, we are also
making progress in the narrowing of the gaps, so that there are only a
few issues outstanding. And we believe that it is possible, with a
serious effort on the part of both sides, to reach agreement on those
issues and to wrap it up.
INDYK: But we have seen before in the Hebron negotiations, and we have
seen in this negotiation as well, that both sides are capable of
negotiating about everything in an endless process. And bringing it to
an end is going to be a challenge even if we succeed in getting the two
parties to resolve some of these issues.
GEJDENSON: And the recent vote in the Knesset to dissolve the
(OFF-MIKE) Knesset an argument over the peace process. What does that
do to the prime minister's hand in all of this? The fact that, my
understanding is a vast majority by 20 points or so voted in favor of
accelerating the peace process. Where does that leave Mr. Netanyahu?
INDYK: I think Prime Minister Netanyahu understands very well that the
majority of Israelis, the vast majority of Israelis, want to see the
peace process go forward. Interestingly, as the peace process has
stalled, the number of Israelis that support the Oslo process has gone
In the days of Prime Minister Rabin, it was around 49 percent, at best
in support of the Oslo process. Today, it's 70 percent. And I think
that as the stalemate has gone on, the pressure has grown to try to
produce an agreement.
GEJDENSON: Let me switch now to Iran. Yesterday's news reported that
the president of Iran wants to have a free press. That for democratic
societies, he said that apparently more information is needed to the
public. He wants to provide protection for religions, virgin religions
in the country.
However, the country clearly still proceeds in trying to acquire weapons
of mass destruction, delivery systems that could put in danger the
entire region and American forces in the region. There still is this
split between the clerics.
I mean, how do we make sure that we don't catch ourselves in the box
that President Reagan was in seeking the moderate Iranians? On the
other hand, how do we end up not being responsible for not giving, what
is clearly someone who's trying to move Iran forward, some victories?
If all the victories, I understand that as long as they support
terrorism, we clearly don't want to change our policy. As long as they
continue to try to add to proliferation problems in the region, we don't
want to change our policy.
On the other hand, how do we provide some, you know, besides applause
for a president who's clearly risking some of his own political
situation in Iran to bridge the gaps? What can we do without giving up
INDYK: Well, I think we have to walk and chew gum at the same time. On
the one hand, we have to act vigorously to try to frustrate its efforts
to acquire weapons of mass destruction, to oppose its sponsorship of
terrorism, and to try to make clear that its opposition to the Middle
East peace process is something that is counterproductive.
But, while we are doing all of that, we also want to make clear, and the
president and the secretary of state have demonstrated this in their
public statements, that we recognize that there is change underway in
Iran. That the majority of the people in electing President Khatami,
voted for greater freedom, a return to the rule of law, to civil
society, and to moderation in Iran's foreign policy. Those policies
pursued by President Khatami clearly are controversial within Iran.
And there is some, you could say backlash in terms of more conservative
forces seeking to constrain that effort; forcing the resignation of his
minister of interior, putting the mayor of Iran on trial and convicting
him -- he's a supporter of President Khatami, closing down one of the
more liberal newspapers. And as I have noted at the beginning of my
remarks, now the execution of a member of the Bahai faith, something
which the Iranian government has not done since 1992. And that is
again, the judiciary responsible for that, the same people that put the
mayor of Teheran on trial.
In that context, where there is clearly a very contentious debate going
on within Iran itself, what the secretary of state wanted to make clear
in her Asia Society speech is that we recognize that there is a desire
for change there. And that when Iran is ready, we are ready too to
welcome that change, to encourage it, and together, to establish a
parallel process in which both sides take steps to meet the other side's
concerns in a way that can delineate a road map towards a normal
relationship with an Iran that seeks to play a positive role in the
So, although there may appear to be inconsistencies between the two
approaches, we feel that it's a coherent policy on the one hand to do
what we can to effect Iranian efforts to acquire weapons and mass
destruction and missile delivery systems. And on the other hand, to do
what we can to encourage more moderate behavior in Iran, such that at
some point down the road, if Iran has these weapons of mass destruction
and delivery systems, they'll be in the hands of people that have an
interest in maintaining international order and not disrupting it.
GILMAN: Thank you Mr. Gejdenson. Mr. Rohrabacher.
ROHRABACHER: Mr. Ambassador, just following through on some of the
issues you were just talking about. When you look at the technology
that's flowing into Iran and Libya and others from China and from the
former Soviet Union, just what priority do we place on trying to stop
that flow of technology?
INDYK: The highest priority. This is something that the president,
vice president, secretary of state, the national security adviser, as
well as other people that work for them have been intensively engaged
in. Of course, the most recent focus for some time now has been on
But, we have also been engaged in an effort to shut down the flow of
technology from China to Iran. And we've made some progress in that
regard as well. The Chinese have declared that they will not sell
missiles to Iran. They've already sold quite a few.
And we are actively engaged with them in efforts to get them to sign up
to the MTCR regime so that they will, in that way control the flow of
technology from their military industries.
ROHRABACHER: So, there is ample evidence, is there not that, although
maybe some of it not public, that the Chinese and different elements
within the former Soviet Union are providing, and continue to provide
weapons of mass destruction, or technology that are parts of those
weapons of mass destruction, to both the Libyans and the Iranians?
INDYK: Yes, we have evidence of that.
INDYK: Our most immediate focus on concern has been on these Russian
companies, because they're the ones that are causing the immediate
problems in the case of Iran.
ROHRABACHER: Right. And the Chinese -- am I -- is the information I'm
getting inaccurate that the Chinese are also up to their eyeballs in
INDYK: I think it's accurate to say to a lesser extent, partly as a
result of the efforts we've undertaken, partly as a result, I think, of
the fact that the Russian system has been more open to penetration by
the Iranians in a very aggressive effort to acquire this -- these
technologies. And that's why we've been focusing so hard on getting the
Russians to tighten up their own system of controls on this.
ROHRABACHER: I would hope to see more personal commitment on the part
of the president on this issue and I'll just leave it at that. One area
that we didn't discuss here and is Afghanistan becoming a
narco-terrorist haven that will threaten the Middle East?
INDYK: I hope you will excuse me in sticking with generalities here,
Congressman, because Afghanistan is not my area of responsibility. We
are concerned about, as you call it narco- terrorism or the combination
of those two phenomenon that in a fairly anarchic situation in
One of the interesting things is that we have been working with the
Iranian government amongst others in a contact group designed to try to
bring more stability to Afghanistan and more control there.
One of the things the Iranians have been concerned about is precisely
this narcotics trade and they have taken steps, continue to do so, to
try not only to stem the flow of the narcotics into Iran, but also to
control Iran narcotics trading.
ROHRABACHER: Over the Israeli-Palestinian situation, Asad recently took
a trip to Europe and it seems to me that for the first time, in my
memory, that Asad seems to be legitimately trying to find peace with
Israel after decades of threatening Israel and doing nothing but being a
belligerent party. Are you optimistic about that at all?
INDYK: As you may know, we engage very actively with the Syrian
government and the former Israeli government under Prime Minister Rabin
and Prime Minister Perez in an effort to try to reach agreement between
Israel and Syria. We made significant progress there.
But some very important issues remain to be resolved. With the with the
election of Prime Minister Netanyahu, the -- this current government of
Israel adopted a different approach. They very much want to resume
negotiations with the Syrians. I think the Syrians, also as you noted,
increasingly in the last few months, have expressed a desire to resume
The problem is that this -- the starting point remains undefined. The
Syrians insist that the negotiations resume from the point where they
left off. The government of Israel says we're a new government and
while we'll take note of where the negotiations left off, we're not
prepared to sign up to the things that were offered by the previous
Israeli government, because there was no agreement reached and
therefore, that is not binding on us. So we have to find a way to
bridge that disagreement about where the negotiations will -- the point
from which the negotiations will resume. Because we have been focused on
trying to get an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, we have not had the
opportunity to engage in an active effort. We've certainly had
discussions with both sides about how we would do this, but we have made
the commitment to both sides that as soon as we get agreement on the
Palestinian track, we will resume the effort to get negotiations going
on the Syrian and the Lebanese tracks.
And that is a commitment on part which we've made to the Syrians. I
think that President Asad has become quite impatient while he's watched
this process drag on, on the Palestinian track without resolution.
ROHRABACHER: I'll just -- I hope that he understands that for many,
many years people were very upset with the fact that he was dragging his
feet and unwilling to take any steps forward.
And now I find it quite ironic that he's willing to take some steps
forward and the Israelis are not. So I -- we all -- we are for peace
here and I appreciate the hard job it is.
It's more like, not just walking and chewing gum, it's like walking,
chewing gum and juggling and whistling "Yankee Doodle" at the same time
while on one foot or something.
INDYK: And watching your back.
GILMAN: Gentlemen's time has expired. Mr. Lantos.
LANTOS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to commend Secretary Indyk for
the outstanding job he and the secretary of state are doing, as well as
on your previous distinguished service as our ambassador to Israel.
INDYK: Thank you.
LANTOS: I'd like to raise a few issues and I'd like your reaction to
each of them. Perhaps you will choose not to react to the first one.
As you know, publicly and privately, I have advocated for a long time,
the establishment of national unity government in Israel.
I think it's self evident that the present government, as currently
constituted, will be incapable of reaching the final stage of the peace
process, even if this interim stage is concluded successfully.
I find it that there is an almost pathological preoccupation with this
interim stage of 13 percent in whatever formulation. And there is very
little thought being given to the obvious fact that the Netanyahu
government, as currently constituted, is incapable of reaching a
conclusion of the peace process.
I fully understand that it is not appropriate for our government to
interfere in internal political affairs of another country. But I think
those of us in Congress have no restriction of any kind in expressing
our views along these lines.
So let me state for the record, that since Israel is the only political
democracy in the process of having to make existential decisions and
since existential decisions by their nature cannot be made with a one
fold majority being a parliament, we should do whatever we can in
appropriate fashion to focus on the long term problem.
And that is to have a national unity government that would have the
support of the large majority of the people, who then could -- which
then could proceed in a significant way in concluding the peace
This 13 percent arrangement, whatever obstacles may still be in the way,
is surely not an answer. It's an interim point and the real problems
will begin only after this process has been successfully negotiated
through this interim engagement.
Now while a great deal of criticism has been leveled at the Netanyahu
government, I find it very distressing that practically no criticism has
been leveled at the continuing anti-Israel propaganda and the continuing
anti-Israel content of the educational institutions under Palestinian
The most outrageous example, of course, of this was the recent Holocaust
denial in the Palestinian Authority's newspapers. And I would have
thought that our government would make a very public and very strong
statement expressing our total outrage at this.
It is absurd to talk about a peace process while fomenting hate. And the
fomenting of hate is going on, on a nonstop basis in both the supportive
and opposition media of Mr. Arafat, in the educational institutions
under his control, and by leaders in his own authority.
LANTOS: And I would like to ask you to react to it.
I would like to ask why the administration has not reacted to the
financial assistance both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait gave Hamas. Hamas is
hell bent on destroying the peace process. The peace process as you
stated again a moment ago, is one of our highest objectives. Hamas is
permanently dedicated to destroying that peace process. And here are
governments which, had we not gone to the Persian Gulf War, would no
longer exist. And we haven't even got the willingness to denounce their
vast financial support for Hamas activities, when the Hamas leader
visited both in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
I would like you to comment briefly on the -- to me, singularly
counter-productive, proposal of the French and the Egyptians to have a
new summit involving European and Arab countries. This could clearly
result only in agreeing on the lowest common denominator, or the highest
common denominator of ant-Israel approaches. And I think it's important
for us to make it clear at the outset that we view President Chirac's
and President Mubarak's moves along these lines counter- productive, and
we will oppose them.
Finally, I'd like to make a brief observation concerning King Hussein,
and Crown Prince Hassan. We all hope that King Hussein's health will
return to the best conceivable level, and for all of the obvious
reasons, we all wish him many, many years of continuing service in his
But I think it's important to underscore that Crown Prince Hassan has
demonstrated remarkable capabilities of leadership in the region. And
just as I believe Vice President Gore is being given a great deal of
exposure, both in terms of his bilateral dealing with the Russians, the
Egyptians and others, it would be very important in terms of Crown
Prince Hassan's domestic prestige to give far greater attention to this
singularly constructive Middle East leader than we have done in recent
years, and I'd be grateful if you would comment on that.
INDYK: Thank you very much, Congressman Lantos, and you've covered a
lot of territory and I'll try to respond as quickly as I can.
You're right that it would not be appropriate for me to comment on your
proposal for a national unity government in Israel. I would just agree
with you that the government of Israel as presently constituted does
have difficulty dealing with the issues involved in the peace process,
particularly when it comes to yielding territory in the West Bank. For
many of the parties in the governing coalition, this is a fundamentally
heretical proposition. That said, and agreeing with your general point,
that we're down in the weeds talking about 13 percent, when there are
those big issues out there, the final status issues. And the clock is
ticking. May 4th, 1999, is a real date. That is when the interim
And if there is not some understanding reached between the two parties
about these bigger issues by that date, then we are very concerned that
bad things will start to happen. Whether it's a unilateral declaration
of an independent Palestinian state, and Israeli responses to that in
terms of annexation of territories to be negotiated over, that will lead
to a very negative cycle, and it's something that we want to avoid.
But agreeing with you on that, nevertheless, it will be very significant
if this government of Israel, as presently constituted, agrees to go
ahead with the process of further redeployments from the West Bank.
Because then, you will have the entire spectrum of Israel, committed to
the Oslo process; committed to yielding territory in the West Bank in
response to Palestinian commitments to peace coexistence, and fighting
And I would not underestimate on the one hand the painfulness of that
process for them, but the significance of it politically and
ideologically, if the prime minister of Israel is able to pull that
I agree with you entirely about the total unacceptability of the kind of
anti-Israel and anti-semitic propaganda that often finds its way into
Palestinian press and other forms of communication. We have criticized
that publicly, and condemned it. I'm glad to have the opportunity to do
And we have issued instructions to our consul general to take up the
particular issue of the holocaust-denial story, with the newspaper
concerned, which is not a Palestinian authority newspaper. It's a
privately-owned newspaper, although it's supported with the Palestinian
That kind of thing is unacceptable, and we will make that very clear,
both to the authority and to the newspaper itself. Within the context
of this agreement that we are trying to reach, we also have put forward
a proposal to deal with the issue of incitement, and Palestinian and
Israeli responsibilities when it comes to the issue of incitement. And
it is very important and we would, in the context of reaching an
agreement, set up a mechanism to deal with this particular problem in a
systematic way -- something that has not existed up until now.
In terms of financial assistance to Hamas, I hope you will accept my
word on this, that we have taken this up very vigorously, not only with
the Saudi and Kuwaiti governments, but other governments as well. They
have committed to us repeatedly that the governments are not providing
funding to Hamas. That there may be individuals who are providing
funding. And we have stressed to them the importance of cutting off that
flow of funding. I think that the trip is ...
LANTOS: Since neither government is democratic, it's a difference.
It's a distinction without a difference. They have ways of imposing
restrictions on the flow of funds, and they have failed to do so.
INDYK: We agree with that proposition, and that's why we are urging
them to do so. Of course, we know, in our own cases as well, that it's
not so easy to cut off funds. But your general proposition is
GILMAN: The gentleman's time has expired. Mr. Salmon.
LANTOS: I have two more questions.
LANTOS: Mr. Chairman.
GILMAN: Without (AUDIO-GAP) objection, the gentleman's time is granted
an additional minute or two. We have several members who want to -- go
INDYK: I will be very quick. On the French-Egyptian proposal, we just
don't see that as a relevant issue at the moment. We're trying to get
an agreement, and we want the focus of the effort to be on the parties
reaching agreement themselves. International conferences we don't see
as being helpful, particularly helpful, to that process at the
If we have a breakdown and nothing to fill the gap, I think it will be
hard to resist that kind of conference, but we're not interested in it
at the moment.
As far as Crown Prince Hassan, I agree entirely. Jordan is fortunate to
have strong and wise leaders in King Hussein and Crown Prince Hassan,
and we want to make it very clear that we strongly support them and
stand by Jordan, and will be acting to do whatever we can to ensure
that, in this time of uncertainty, that nobody has any illusions about
steadfast support of the United States for King Hussein and Crown Prince
GILMAN: Thank you very much, Mr. Ambassador. Mr. Salmon.
SALMON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ambassador Indyk, it's a pleasure to have you here today. (AUDIO-GAP)
Over the past year, I've been alarmed at the Clinton administration's
perceived willingness to appease countries and leaders that have
sponsored terrorist attacks that have killed Americans.
In what only could be termed shocking, even frightening development, the
administration recently appeared in court to block efforts of one
victim's family, the Flatows -- who's daughter Alisa, was killed in a
terrorist attack in Israel -- to enforce legal judgments obtained in an
American court against Iran, which helped finance the attack.
The Anti-Terrorism and Death Penalty Act, which became law in 1996,
included a provision authored by Representative Jim Saxton, that
explicitly permitted such suits. The administration should be working
on behalf of American citizens, not protecting the assets of Iran, the
country our State Department has identified as the number one sponsor of
SALMON: Protecting the assets of terrorists is absolutely the wrong
message to send to killers of American citizens. And I think it's
morally bankrupt, no matter how badly we'd like to develop better
relationships with Iran.
I commend Representative Saxton for introducing legislation, the Justice
for American Victims of Terrorism Act, which would permit victims of
state-sponsored terrorism to execute judgments against property owned by
terrorist sponsoring states.
I'm also troubled by the administration's consideration. I know you
addressed it in your initial comments regarding the...
GILMAN: Mr. Salmon, could I interrupt for one moment, get a sense of
the body here. Have you folks had, you haven't had a chance to ask your
questions. Do you have a number of questions? Do you think you'll be
taking your whole...
(UNKNOWN MEMBER): I have one.
GILMAN: One question, one question, and that's it. So, just, if we
could proceed as fast as possible.
SALMON: I'll try to.
GILMAN: Otherwise the ambassador...
SALMON: I just have some very important questions. The last gentleman
GILMAN: You've got (OFF-MIKE).
SALMON: Take what I've got. Anyway, I know that you spoke of the
administration potentially softening its position on the venue for the
bombing of the Pan Am flight that killed 270 people. I'd like to submit
for the record an op ed piece submitted by Daniel and Susan Cohen.
I know that there may be some reports that are inaccurate of what the
administration's position is. After all, where is the administration?
I know a few years ago, when Qaddafi suggested the venue be at The
Hague, it was laughed off and said it was preposterous, ridiculous. I
hope that's still the administration's position. But, I'm curious after
all, what is the position?
I'm concerned about reports that the State Department pressured the
Israeli government to abandon its demand that the Palestinian Authority
transfer to Israel the 36 terrorists that Israel has formally requested
and in accordance with the Oslo Accords. Now, that may be a felicitous
report. I hope it is. But, I'd like to know after all, what is the
policy of the administration.
I expressed particular concern over the administration's position on
this provision in Oslo, because some of the terrorists at Israel's
request to be transferred to Israel have murdered American victims.
Earlier this month, I did travel to the Middle East and I met with
Yasser Arafat to convey to him concern that the territory that he
controls has become a safe haven for terrorists. I've been deeply
troubled that the Palestinian justice system, as Secretary Albright said
about a year ago in a speech, has become a revolving door of justice.
In my meeting with Chairman Arafat, he did agree to permit U.S.
inspectors to visit the Palestinian prisons that house criminals
implicated in terrorists attacks that have killed Americans, because
their skepticism, whether or not they actually keep them in prison.
Now, that agreement from him is a movement, I think in the right
direction. I think it's significant. It's still my preference that
terrorists be transferred either to the United States or to Israel where
the crimes occurred, to stand trial. It's also the position of the U.S.
House which passed a measure, 406 to 0 regarding this issue.
Now, three questions, why has the State Department and the Department of
Justice intervened in the Flatow case to prohibit these victims of
terror to seize Iranian assets to help satisfy their judgments? I would
like you to be as painfully clear as you can on what is the position of
the administration in moving the venue to The Hague as proposed by
Muammar Qaddafi. I know you spoke about it briefly.
And how's the administration, are the reports accurate that the
administration has pressured Israel to release the PA from its
obligation to transfer murderers to Israel?
And finally, has the administration taking Arafat up on his offer and
inspected Palestinian prisons that hold killers of Americans? Thank
GILMAN: Just to let the members know and the ambassador know what we're
going to be doing here, we'll give the ambassador time to answer your
questions. Then we will break and then come back for you folks to have
your time to ask whatever questions you'd like. And we will come back
immediately after the vote is complete. It's going on the floor, we
have 10 minutes left in the vote on the floor. Mr. Ambassador.
INDYK: Mr. Chairman, just clarification, how long do I have to answer
Mr. Salmon's questions?
GILMAN: You have a couple of minutes
INDYK: Two minutes?
GILMAN: Five minutes if you'd like to take.
SALMON: If you can't answer them in the time constraints, you know,
maybe you could submit some answers in writing. Thank you.
INDYK: Sure. First of all, the Flatow case. I have a personal stake in
this, Mr. Salmon. Alisa Flatow was killed by a terrorist bombing on a
bus in Gaza 10 days after I arrived in Israel to take up my post as
ambassador. And that was followed unfortunately, by a number of
American citizens being killed on my watch in Israel: Matthew Eisenfeld,
Sarah Duker, David Boim amongst others. I went to more funerals than
weddings in my time, in Israel. And therefore, I feel very strongly
that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes should be brought to
In the case of, the particular case of Alisa Flatow and the finding of
the judge against the Iranian government and the attachment of the
assets, the reason that the Department of Justice and the State
Department lawyers intervened in that case was because of the legal
obligations that we have under international covenants that we have
signed up to. And it is for that reason that they entered the case. I
will be glad to provide you with a detailed answer on that, because it
involves these legal conventions. I give you the full count of that.
As far as the issue of the venue for Pan Am 103 trial, I'm not sure
whether you were here at the beginning when I made very clear that what
we are talking about is seeing whether it is possible to stand up a
Scottish court with Scottish judges and Scottish procedure and Scottish
prosecution in a different venue, that is in the Netherlands.
This is not a world court proceeding. We will not have anything to do
with that. It's not an international panel of judges. It's a Scottish
court. The UN Security Council resolutions provide for trials of the
suspects in an American or Scottish court. So, that would be consistent
with the UN Security Council resolutions as long as we are satisfied
that the legal requirements can be met for that kind of process.
We are motivated by a desire to bring these suspects to trial. They are
at the moment, as far as we can tell, sunning themselves on the beach in
Tripoli. This is outrageous and unacceptable from our point of view.
One hundred and eighty-nine Americans were killed. And justice delayed
is justice denied.
We are responding to the concerns of many of the families involved. In
fact, as you may know, a majority, almost two-thirds of the families
have now come out publicly calling on us to do just what I have
suggested. I'm very much aware that Daniel and Susan Cohen are not
supportive of this approach. But, certainly others are because they
want some sense of justice being done in this case. And that is what
has been motivating us.
If Qaddafi does not...
GILMAN: Mr. Ambassador, we have six-and-a-half minutes left of this
vote. And I think it would prudent for us to go and vote now, just in
SALMON: Mr. Chairman, could I just put a question on the table. I will
not be able to come back regrettably. But, ask our distinguished
GILMAN: Mr. Salmon, in fact, before you do, Mr. Salmon, why don't you
take over the chair on the way back, and you will be able to have the
ambassador finish answering your questions. When you come -- We're
going to have to come back.
SALMON: Just to take 30 seconds. Mr. Ambassador, as you know, I and
many members of Congress -- Senate, House, Democrat and Republican --
have been concerned about the lack of payments to Gibbs (ph) and Hill
(ph) by the Saudi government. Perhaps, you could enlighten us. I've
been pressing this for over two years. I've talked to Wyche Fowler a
number of times in Saudi Arabia. I've talked to people from the Saudi
embassy. And we still seem to get nowhere. Perhaps, you can enlighten
the committee as to any progress that might be made on that?
GILMAN: OK, with that, this committee is in recess for 15 minutes.
SALMON: Okay, we reconvene now. Ambassador, right before we all took
off for the vote, we were going to finish with my last question and then
Congressman Rohrabacher had a question then we'll get to (OFF-MIKE). Oh,
I'm sorry, Congressman Smith had a question, thank you.
INDYK: I believe you are -- the questions that I did not answer was on
the issue of transfer of terrorists, the people involved in killing
Israelis or Americans. Those reports, I'm not sure what you're
referring to but they're certainly not accurate.
We have not pressured the Israeli government at all. In fact, half of
the package of ideas that we have developed to try to deal with all of
the obligations of both sides under the interim agreement. We deal
specifically with this issue of the transfer of suspects. And I hope
that if we get agreement that there will be satisfactory arrangements
made for the fulfillment of the requirements under the interim
So on the contrary, we've been working to try to get satisfaction on
this issue. I think you had a fourth question that I didn't ...
SALMON: Actually, the point was -- by the way, I had a very, very
productive meeting with your people, both in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as
well as the Justice Department people that are on the ground now, the
two FBI agents that have been sent there to try to wrap some of these
In my meeting with Arafat he made the commitment to me because I
expressed frustration that we weren't sure whether these people were
actually finishing out their sentences.
He made the offer, well if your people want and come and investigate at
any time, unannounced, then you're welcome to do that and my question
was have we taken him up on that or do we intend to?
INDYK: We have from time to time done that, but it's not a very
successful kind of operation. I mean, just because somebody's in jail
one day doesn't mean they're in jail the next day.
SALMON: But if we show up unannounced, I know the problem that we've
had in the past is that we have to let them know in advance, we're going
to come visit the prison. That's completely counter- productive because
they can grab the guy off the street, put him in prison and show him to
you and then let him out, but if it's an unannounced visit and they're
periodic, there's no, you know.
INDYK: Senator, we have done some of those things in the past. Again,
under the agreement we have a system of monitoring that will be
introduced by agreement by both sides that I think will take care of
your concerns in that regard.
GILMAN: Congressman Smith had a question.
INDYK: Yes, Congressman Smith is asking about the case of Gibson Hill
(ph). This is an unsettled business claim in Saudi Arabia. I have been
working with Congressman Menendez and others to try to get some
satisfaction in this case. I can not report that we've made any
progress, but we will continue to pressure with the Saudi government and
with Ambassador Prince Bandar when he returns to Washington.
SALMON: Thank you. Congressman Rothman is next.
ROTHMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Secretary. It's good to see you
again. As you may know, Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen and I are the
authors and original co-sponsors of (AUDIO GAP) of an effort to get
Israel into Western European and Others Group, the WEOG?
We met with the present, immediate past president and next leader of the
European Union a couple of months ago. Maybe they've changed hands in
their role and their positions since then, anyway, we wanted to tell
them of our commitment to getting Israel into the -- eliminating
Israel's second class status at the UN. And the bottom line is they
said it's not the right time and we said it's 49 years, not the right
We left and especially during this the lack of movement in the peace
process they said it would be absolutely the wrong thing to do. Low and
behold, they acquiesced and encouraged the upgrading of Palestinian
Authority's, status at the U.N. at the same time.
What is the administration doing to try to get Israel admitted into
WEOG, temporary or permanent?
INDYK: We have raised this issue with the Europeans on many occasions
and are continuing to do so because we support Israel's inclusion in the
West European and Others Group. We agree with you that this kind of
second class status is not acceptable or fair treatment for our friend
and ally, Israel and that we should see and end to the way in which
Israel is discriminated against in the international bodies.
You're right about there never being a good time, because we press the
Europeans at a time when the peace process was moving forward and they
didn't act on this at that time, so I don't think it's an adequate
explanation to say that lack of movement is the reason -- lack of
movement in the peace process is the reason.
On the other hand, the lack of movement in the peace process has created
a very negative environment in the U.N. in general when it comes to
Israel. Although recent years when things were moving in the peace
process, we were able for the first time to introduce positive
resolutions in the General Assembly in support of the peace process and
that was positive towards Israel.
We saw a whole change in the atmosphere towards Israel. That,
unfortunately, is receding just as the sour mood that Congressman
Hamilton talked about his taking hold throughout the region and these
kinds of initiatives are inevitably going to suffer.
ROTHMAN: Well you know, if I may Mr. Secretary, I think, I don't know
how else to send the message. I mean we're -- everybody's patron,
everybody's a strong ally and protector and I said to these folks a
couple of months ago with Ms. Ros-Lehtinen and Israel is America's
greatest best friend in a very important region of the world.
You are our friends. We expect friends to help us help other friends
and you know when they said to me -- we were just at the verge when
Rabin got killed and we were just about to do it -- I accepted that for
what it was. And that's why it was so shocking when they participated
in the upgrading of the Palestine status.
So we've got about 115 co-sponsors to our efforts here in the House and
I told these folks last -- these folks a couple of months ago that the
United States Congress would pay attention to what they did or didn't
do, they have done the wrong thing by America, they've done the wrong
thing by our greatest ally in the region and I think we have to send a
message to them in any of the innumerable ways we can send messages, so
I would encourage for you to use your good offices to accomplish that.
INDYK: I will Congressman. Let me just for the record though, correct
the impression you have in regard to the upgrading of Palestinian
On the one hand the Europeans were very helpful in the previous effort,
previous successful effort to prevent this from happening which took
place in I think it was December of last year.
In the General Assembly of course we have one vote and we cannot bock it
on our own, but with the help of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands --
and the Europeans worked with us on that. In this case, they went along
with the upgrading, but they then worked with us to ensure that it was a
kind of minimalist approach so that the Palestinian -- the PLO did not
get what it wanted in terms of voting rights and the right to introduce
resolutions, the rights to be a candidate and so on.
ROTHMAN: Well, at the very least -- I appreciate that and that
education; and I take it to heart. But you know, there were some small
public relations victory, perhaps, for the Palestinian Authority. And
there should be a commensurate, then, public relations victory for
Israel assisted by the Europeans as well.
INDYK: That would ...
ROTHMAN: If they're talking about evenhandedness, then that's next. And
I'm expecting that from them -- some public relations fig leaf to
demonstrate that the Europeans recognize that the lack of movement has a
responsibility in the two camps, not just the one.
But I do hear what you say about their cooperation. But it's not
enough. And I hope you will convey that message.
INDYK: I would also point out that we should expect that there will be
more efforts to upgrade the Palestinians' status. And I would imagine
that if we do not succeed in getting an agreement before the U.N.
General Assembly meets in September, we'll see a lot of other negative
ROTHMAN: Again, though, I hope you will just send the message that if
our friends, the Europeans, don't cooperate with us, then they're not
our friends. If our friends won't help us when we need them, that
violates the definition of friendship. And if they don't want to be
regarded as our friends, then we will behave accordingly and regard them
not as our friends. So please, send that message. We expect friends to
act like friends. Otherwise, we will treat them as strangers.
UNKNOWN: You know, Mr. Rothman, if we could get our friends to act like
friends, we probably wouldn't be in arrears (ph) on the U.N. dues.
SALMON: The time of the gentleman has expired. I'd like to turn some
time over to Mrs. Capps (ph) for questions.
CAPPS: Thank you. And I first ask unanimous consent to have my
statement, which I didn't have a chance to give in the beginning, be
submitted for the record. (AUDIO GAP) And it's my first pro-Israel
position that leads me to be a strong advocate of the peace process.
You said the news isn't good. Everyone is saying that in the Middle
East. And yet -- and I did come today concerned about press reports of
recent date that the administration appears ready to throw up its
friends and disengage from the active involvement in the peace process.
And I would not be in favor of that.
We have -- even though the ultimate resolution of such a conflict, as
you stated, must be negotiated directly between the parties, we've
examples, such as recently in Northern Ireland, where our encouragement
does and can make a tremendous difference.
You've dealt with this topic at length through this report -- your
report and your engagement with us. And I appreciate very much your
I want to ask a question which I broached with you during the break
regarding the hardship being suffered by the Iraqi people. It's
estimated that there are a million-and-a-half Iraqi people, including a
half-a-million children who have died as a result of the U.N. sanctions
Despite the fairly recent increase in the oil-for-food program, this is
continuing. And I have reports from my constituents who tell me of
firsthand knowledge of terrible sufferings that are going on there.
And I want to know if there's any way we can be doing more -- or we can
be doing something to keep the Iraqi military contained, at the same
time helping to alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people. And if
there' time, I have another short...
INDYK: ... Yes.
CAPPS: ... question about Jordan.
INDYK: First of all, I think it's important to note that there is no
sanction on the importation of food and medicines to Iraq. And Saddam
Hussein has always had the ability to spend money on meeting the basic
needs of the Iraqi people. And he has chosen not to do so. He's chosen
instead to build these unbelievable, uninhabited palaces as mosoleums
(ph) to his ego -- and then play on the suffering of the Iraqi people
for propaganda purposes -- out of recognition that he would not meet
their basic needs because it served his purposes not to do so.
We introduced this concept under Resolution 986 of allowing Iraq to sell
oil, putting the money from those sales of oil into a U.N. escrow
account and making sure that, money was spent for humanitarian supplies,
including medicines, for the Iraqi people.
The Secretary General recommended an expansion of that program and we
supported that -- to the point where Iraq is now allowed to export $11.2
billion worth of oil annually to meet the needs of the Iraqi people. By
U.N. estimates, that far exceeds the amount of money necessary to
provide for food and medicine for the Iraqi people. And some of that
money will be spent on upgrading hospitals and schools and the
electricity infrastructure and so on.
So that the program as it kicks in is going to go beyond that basic
humanitarian need to improving the conditions of the Iraqi people. And
we're doing that under U.N. control -- control of the money, control of
the contracts, monitoring of the distribution. We're doing it because
Saddam Hussein himself will not do it. And one of the disturbing
developments in this regard was a story in the "New York Times"
yesterday -- I don't know whether you saw it -- in which they reported
that because this program is now working and is alleving (ph) the plight
of the Iraqi people -- alleviating the plight of the Iraqi people,
Saddam Hussein is considering canceling it -- canceling cooperation with
it. Because we are, in the process, denying him the propaganda benefit
of, you know, babies in caskets on the tops of taxis, ...
CAPPS: ... Right.
INDYK: ... which he made great play of in the last crisis.
INDYK: I believe that within the next six months, if this program goes
forward, as I hope it will, we will see a significant improvement in the
conditions of the Iraqi people.
INDYK: And we are certainly -- are very concerned to meet that
CAPPS: Thank you. My other brief question, actually, was not on Jordan
but on Lebanon. The elections that will be held in October are: what is
the relationship, our relationship, to those?
INDYK: I'm sorry. Please repeat that -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?
CAPPS: Do we oppose -- do we support the elections in Lebanon?
INDYK: Oh, very much so. We were very glad to see that municipal
elections were held in Lebanon for the first time in 30 years. Two
months ago, they were successfully contested; good voter turnout, as far
as well can tell -- a fair, free election.
And presidential elections when the occur is something we would also
support. We don't intervene in Lebanese politics any more than we
intervene in Israeli politics. So we don't have a candidate.
INDYK: But we definitely want to see that election go forward.
CAPPS: Thank you very much.
SALMON: Thank you. The time of the gentleman has expired. The chair
will now recognize Mr. Faleomavaega.
FALEOMAVAEGA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I certainly want to
personally welcome our assistant secretary for East Asian affairs --
also our former ambassador to Israel that I've had the privilege of
meeting personally when we visited with Chairman Gilman. And I
certainly want to thank Chairman Gilman for calling this hearing and
having you, Mr. Secretary, to testify before the committee.
As you know, when we were there in Tel Aviv -- that was about a
year-and-a-half ago -- we were briefed by officials of the Israeli
government and the concern that they had that Iran was developing a
missile that had the capability of eventually reaching Jerusalem and
other key cities in Israel. Well, now, this has become a reality. It's
somewhat very prophetic in that instance.
At the same time, interestingly enough too -- you know we've been
playing ping pong with the Chinese, and now we're wrestling with the
Iranians, as part of our Goodwill -- and hopefully in wanting to ask for
your opinion, Mr. Secretary.
There's been a lot of media coverage about the -- what should be U.S.
policy towards Iran. Should we have one of engagement similar to what
we're doing with the People's Republic of China? Should we have Iran as
a friend rather than as an adversary -- given the fact that there seems
to be these motives -- or I mean basic gestures from the Iranian leaders
to see that if we could normalize our relationship.
So given the concern that we've had from the military capability of
Iran, do we see a -- what, exactly, is our position now in our
relationship with Iran?
INDYK: Thank you, Congressman. It's nice to see you again.
INDYK: The test of the Shah-Hab (ph) was indeed a development that was
not unexpected. It's a flight test -- the first. It was not entirely
successful. We have some problems.
INDYK: But I think it indicates that they are far enough along in their
development of this medium-range ballistic missile that we should
assume, for planning purposes, that we will begin to see this missile
deployed in year or so, which is a short window.
We have been concerned about this, as has the government of Israel, for
some time. We have been vigorously involved in an effort to shut off
the supply of technology to Iran -- not just for this missile, but also
its long-range ballistic missile program.
We've had some successes in that regard. But what this I think does is
to create an environment in which we need to redouble our efforts -- and
not just with Russia, but also China and North Korea.
At the same time, as you point out, there's some changes going on in
Iran, and that is something that we want to encourage and the Secretary
of State has laid out a detailed approach in that regard, which makes it
clear that, in a parallel process, if the Iranians are prepared to
respond to our concerns -- which includes weapons of mass destruction
and missile delivery systems -- that we are prepared to respond to their
concerns. And we can develop a road map toward a more normal
But that depends on them and not just on us. So, as it were, the offer
is out there when they're ready. But, in the meantime, we are not
changing our policies. And our economic sanctions policies remain in
tact as well until we see that we can develop this kind of approach.
We are responding to their rhetoric in kind with our rhetoric and making
clear that we welcome a civilizational exchange as President Khatami has
suggested. We welcome the interest of the people of Iran as manifested
in his election in a return to the rule of law in greater freedoms,
personal freedoms, press freedoms.
FALEOMAVAEGA: Are citizens now allowed to travel freely to Iran in
INDYK: Yes. We do have a travel warning on, but we have walked that
back a bit from our previous concerns because of the change in
FALEOMAVAEGA: Mr. Secretary, I'm sorry, but because my time is short,
I've got to -- one other (CLEARS THROAT) -- There have been some real
serious criticisms from some of our so-called European allies -- to
suggest that the crisis with Israel and Palestine, with the
Palestinians, for the Middle East, for that matter, has always been kind
of like an American ocean of dominance. And especially France -- the
Europeans just don't like the idea that the U.S. should continue calling
the shots, so to speak.
And the criticism also seems to stem from the notion that we seem to
lean towards Israel all the time -- always never seeming to give a fair
consideration to the concerns of the Palestinians. And I don't know if
But what is the administration's position on this criticism? And are we
really telling Europeans and other countries to stay away -- this is
American turf; that you shouldn't participate? Or am I -- or is this
media writings have been totally false as they are -- the administration
INDYK: We don't tell them to stay away. The -- it's not our preserve;
it's the preserve of the parties involved in the peace process
themselves. And it's up to them to decide who they want to help them
resolve these very difficult issues.
We have worked closely with France in Lebanon, for example, where we
co-chaired the Israel-Lebanon monitoring group. It meets on a daily on
-- I shouldn't say daily basis -- it meets whenever there's an incident
-- there's complaints on either side.
It functions very well. Our cooperation is excellent. And we've
demonstrated there that we can work together to promote stability. The
-- so as far as we're concerned, there's no ban on European involvement.
We would welcome it. But the reality is when it comes down to trying to
negotiate the details of an agreement, having more than one mediator
makes things very, very complicated.
FALEOMAVAEGA: One more quick question, Mr. Secretary: There's now
pending before the administration a contract deal between Mobile Oil
Corporation and a U.S. company with the -- Iran, where Iran will get oil
coming out of the Caspian Sea; and then, in exchange, we will get the
oil coming out of the Persian Gulf, which Iran has jurisdiction over.
Where are with that -- with that deal right now -- or pending
INDYK: Yeah. It's -- it is something that is under consideration
within the administration. We've made very clear that we are opposed to
any kind of pipeline from the Caspian area through Iran. And we want to
see pipelines flow east-to-west and not north- to-south in that
The oil swaps is a proposal -- is not a pipeline, but it has many of the
manifestations of a kind of functional equivalent of a pipeline, and
that creates some problems for us. But it's under consideration.
FALEOMAVAEGA: A recent vote in the General Assembly of the United
Nations -- I think with a total membership of about 186 nations -- 124
countries voted in favor of the idea that we should give more
recognition to Palestine as a state. And I notice that the Marshall
Islands and the federated states of Micronesia, along with Israel and
the U.S. voted against this resolution.
What is the administration's position? Are we going to allow the United
Nations to dictate something that is really -- should be on the premise
of where the leaders of both factions are the ones really controlling
the situation and not the -- you know, it's very easy for them to vote;
but when the chips are down, who really is the one that picks up the
mess, or tries to clear up the mess? It's our country.
FALEOMAVAEGA: Well, I would like a response. What is our position on
INDYK: First of all, I'm sure you would agree with me, Congressman,
that we should express appreciation to Micronesia and the Marshall
Islands for voting with us in this.
FALEOMAVAEGA: And I personally conveyed the good wishes of Prime
Minister Netanyahu on that basis. And they really appreciated that it
is recognized by the highest level of the officials of Israel.
INDYK: Right. And the United States. You know, in the General Assembly
we have one vote. And whenever this issue, the Palestinian issue or
Israel, gets raised in the -- at the U.N. General Assembly, no real good
comes of it. We've seen it in the most extreme case in the Zionism is
Racism resolution that was passed there despite our opposition. In this
case, it was elevating the status of the PLO, but it did not change it
to the point where it had a kind of statehood status. It was more form
than substance in that regard. So, in itself, it was not as bad as it
might have been. Nevertheless, we made our opposition very clear to
these kind of unilateral steps by either side, which tend to destroy
trust and confidence and attempt to preempt the outcome of issues that
need to be negotiated between the parties. And that's the answer.
The answer is: the negotiations is where these issues should be dealt
with, not in the General Assembly and not in the Security Council.
FALEOMAVAEGA: Mr. Secretary, I want to commend you...
SALMON: ... Thank you. The gentleman's time has expired.
FALEOMAVAEGA: ... I want to commend you for the outstanding job you're
doing for our country.
INDYK: Thank you.
SALMON: Thank you. We recognize Mr. Sherman.
SHERMAN: I'm going to pick up where Mr. Faleomavaega left off. In
February of '94, then-Secretary of State Warren Christopher told a
committee of this House:
"Certainly, the United States does not support a Palestinian state.
Certainly, I think responsible official of Israels are the best judge as
to whether and whether (AUDIO GAP) not the steps they've taken are the
right ones for Israel. We are helping the Israeli leaders try to
achieve the results that they want to achieve. I think that is the
proper role for the United States in this situation."
And he ended by saying, "We do not certainly support a Palestinian
state, as we never have."
Do these words still reflect American foreign policy vis-a-vis a
INDYK: Congressman Sherman, the issue of Palestinian statehood is an
issue which is -- needs to be dealt with in the context of the final
status negotiations, which will deal with other issues as agreed upon
between the parties -- Jerusalem, refugees, borders, and the issue of
what the entity -- what form the entity will take and what powers it
will have -- the Palestinian entity, that is.
INDYK: And we are strongly opposed to unilateral actions, as I
mentioned in the previous answer, that would seek to preempt the outcome
of those negotiations. And unilateral actions involving unilateral
declaration of a Palestinian state are included in that concern that we
have that neither side takes steps that would preempt the outcome of
SHERMAN: So if there was a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian
state, how would the United States respond?
INDYK: Well, I think as I explained, that is an issue which should be
dealt with in final status negotiations. And that is the position that
we would take.
SHERMAN: But if there was such a declaration, how would we respond,
assuming the declaration was unilateral and not part of a final status
INDYK: We would oppose a unilateral declaration, and make clear that
this is an issue for final status negotiations.
SHERMAN: I do have some questions about Sudan and about what seems to
be holes in our sanctions regime there. But we're having hearings this
afternoon on Sudan, and I'm going to reserve those questions for one of
your colleagues, and instead turn to the issue of Jerusalem.
You know, there's a popular fiction with the newspapers, et cetera, that
is the executive branch of government which is the sole vicar of
American foreign policy. And in fact, if you read any of these Supreme
Court decisions on the subject, again and again they conclude that, in
fact, foreign policy is supposed to be determined here in the Congress
and administered by the administration.
And the Jerusalem Embassy Act states, in part, that Jerusalem should
remain an undivided city. And it goes on to say Jerusalem should be
recognized as the capital of the state of Israel. Is this act the
policy of the United States government, or is Congress simply not
allowed to legislate and to determine what American foreign policy
INDYK: Yes, obviously Congress has the power to legislate in these
kinds of areas. But I believe it is the prerogative of the
administration to decide on issues such as recognition. That is
something that might, in the end, have to be resolved in the courts. But
that is a prerogative that administrations, successive administrations
SHERMAN: This is a statute ...
INDYK: But as far as the policy itself, just to finish, Jerusalem is an
issue that the parties themselves agreed would be addressed in the final
status negotiations. We are making a huge effort to try to get those
final status negotiations started. We're doing so at the request of the
Israeli government. Those final status negotiations are supposed to be
concluded by May of next year. And if they are, then it will be
possible to resolve this issue as well.
SHERMAN: I would point out that not only has this statute been passed
by the Congress and signed into law by the president ...
INDYK: The president did not sign it, he ...
SHERMAN: Excuse me, allowed to become law by the president. And when a
law is the law of this land, and I would hope that the officers of the
U.S. government would follow it, and not simply declare that it is
something to be decided by other foreign governments and not by the laws
of our own country.
INDYK: If I could respond, Congressman.
INDYK: It is certainly the administration's duty to uphold the law, and
my personal responsibility to do so. And we will do so. I think it's
important to look at the wording of the particular legislation. And I
believe that we are entirely correct in our position and not acting
against the law.
SHERMAN: I look forward to examining that law with you paragraph by
paragraph. But I don't think there's anything as simple in any of the
statutes of this country as the words "Jerusalem should be recognized as
the capital of the state of Israel."
INDYK: I think the world is "should" that becomes the issue here.
SHERMAN: "Should" is one of those simple words you learn in the first
years of elementary school and seems relatively apparent to me. With the
chair's permission, I have just one other question, and it concerns me,
the whole issue of final status negotiations and land for peace, and
that is even if one establishes that there are certain territorial
concessions which Israel should make, the question is, in return for
In return for appropriate actions by the Palestinian authority, or in
return for peace with the entire Arab world. Is it envisioned that
Israel will make all of the territorial concessions that are reasonable
solely in return for reasonable actions by the Palestinian authority,
and therefore have nothing else to give in return for peace treaties
with Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Algeria, and all the other states that are in a
technical state of war with Israel. Is land for peace only peace with
one entity, or is it peace with the entire array of hostile
INDYK: It's an important question to ask. We seek a comprehensive
peace, which means a lasting and secure peace with all of Israel's
neighbors. Their neighbors are defined in that regard as the countries
immediately surrounding Israel who are involved in conflict, one of the
manifestations of which is territorial conflict, that plus Lebanon,
Syria, the Palestinians. Of course, Jordan and Egypt are already at
peace with Israel.
SHERMAN: So if Israel was to make territorial concessions for peace,
she's entitled only to get peace with her immediate neighbors? And the
failure to deliver peace with other countries is not a failure of
INDYK: No. I did not finish my answer. But I don't think that one
should expect that there will be contractual peace agreements with
countries that are beyond Israel's borders. There are disputes between
Iran and Iraq, and you can mention Libya as well, manifest their extreme
hostility towards Israel.
And we would wish to see that changed. One of the ways to change that
is to widen the circle of peace around Israel, to bring into contractual
peace agreements with Israel those countries that surround it
immediately. Once Egypt was at peace with Israel, that had a dramatic
impact on the ability of other states to pursue their hostility.
One of the reasons that we think it is in our strategic interests to
pursue to make peace agreements between Israel and Syria is because
that, too, would have a dramatic impact on the ability of those that are
still determined to seek Israel's destruction, would have an impact on
their ability to do so.
And we think, particularly as this region along with the rest of the
world enters the 21st century, that it is important to take advantage of
a window that may in fact be closing to try to achieve that
comprehensive peace so that Israel is in a much better position in the
face of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and delivery
systems, it's in a much better position to deal with those threats that
come from countries on the periphery, such as Iran or Iraq or Libya. But
in that process eventually, we hope that those countries will come to
recognize that this is not the way to go and change their policies, too.
Although, we don't hold much hope under the present leadership in Iraq
or Libya in that regard. But I think that, that is the process of
expanding the circle of peace that will eventually get to the point
where Israel will have peace with all of its neighbors. But I fear that,
that may be some time off.
SHERMAN: I would point out that I think it's a rather extreme position,
but one that seems to be accepted, that in a land for peace deal,
Israel's supposed to give up all the land, perhaps as early as May of
next year. But all the peace Israel's entitled to is something to be
deferred until such time as there is a change in the hearts of Teheran,
Baghdad, Algiers and Tripoli.
INDYK: I don't think that Israel's expected to give up any land to
SHERMAN: Well, no. It's not a matter of whether Baghdad receives the
land. The concept is land for peace. Israel's -- the sole recipient of
that land would be the Palestinian Authority. But to say that Israel
should make all of the concessions that it should make, and deliver
those concessions in the next few years, and then Israel should get the
peace it's entitled to only at such time as it is bestowed voluntarily
and without further consideration by hostile regimes, in every real
estate deal I was involved in the private sector, you would do something
on the order of an escrow agreement. And if you're going to deliver land
for money, you don't deliver the last acre of land until you're sure to
getting the last dollar of money.
INDYK: Yes, well, but that, of course, would have the effect of
allowing the last hold out, assuming Saddam Hussein's Iraq, to delay
peace with Israel's neighbors.
SHERMAN: It shouldn't be a delay in peace, just a delay in turning over
some of the land, but ...
INDYK: There's no land in dispute between Iraq and Israel.
SHERMAN: Well, the dispute, I think it's generally agreed that the
recipient of the land will be the Palestinian Authority.
SHERMAN: But the peace has got to be conveyed, certainly as you point
out, by Damascus and Beirut, and I would argue by those other states as
well. And if we put Israel in a circumstance where we say you must make
all the concessions, and receive only part of the consideration, that's
not a deal I'd let any of my clients make in the private sector.
SALMON: The time of the gentleman has expired.
SHERMAN: Go ahead.
SALMON: Thank you. The chairman did have a few questions. I
appreciate your patience in staying here so long. The chairman did have
a few questions, if you wouldn't mind. What is the administration's
assessment of the prospects of overthrowing Saddam Hussein?
INDYK: It's always difficult to make an accurate assessment when you're
faced with a ruthless, authoritarian, totalitarian personality in
control of an effective security apparatus who has succeeded in
thwarting various efforts to overthrow him in the past. So I'm loathe
to make a prediction about the certainty of his demise or the longevity
of his horrendous rule.
I think that if and when he goes, it's likely to be sudden and
unexpected. But beyond that, it is hard to say. He certainly is not a
popular leader in Iraq. If the people of Iraq were able to have their
say, then I think he would have been long gone. And the question is how
can we work with those who oppose his regime to manifest an effective
alternative to him that may help in the process of undermining his hold
SALMON: What would be the prospects for a civil war in Iraq if the
diverse exile opposition groups succeeded in ousting him?
YK: You know, there have been some very dire predictions about what
would happen in those circumstances. I personally tend to be more
sanguine. I think that there is a lot more cohesion to the Iraqi state
and to the Iraqi people than is normally given them credit for. There
was, after the Iran-Iraq, I'm sorry, after the Gulf war, there was great
concern that the Shiite rebellion in the south would lead to the
breakaway of the south under Iranian tutelage. I think that, that fear
was much exaggerated, and unfortunately led to, or had an influence on
the calculations of Iraq's southern neighbors and of Washington about
whether to support that rebellion or not. So I don't think that we
should be overly concerned about that. We obviously have long argued
that it is important that the unity of Iraq is important, and we want to
see the territorial integrity of Iraq. But I think that concerns about
its disintegration are much exaggerated.
GILMAN?: The United States still maintains a ban on Lebanese airlines
flying into U.S. airports, and continues to prohibit U.S. carriers from
flying to Beirut. What are the administration's ongoing concerns?
INDYK: I think, first of all, in terms of the context here one needs to
understand that we have made significant progress on the issue of travel
to and from Lebanon. The secretary's decision to lift the travel ban
was, I think, a breakthrough in that regard. And we're very pleased to
see that, that has enabled American citizens to travel to Lebanon
without incident. And it is very important that there not be incidents
for that to continue.
Recently, the president took a decision to allow the ticketing, tickets
to be issued here, which was the concern that the Department of
Transportation had about particular security issues at the airport in
Beirut. In terms of the passage of allowing the carriers to operate, we
have continued security concerns, both about security in Beirut and the
procedures of their carrier itself, Middle East Airlines. And those
things would have to be addressed before we could look at that issue.
SALMON: In addition to attacking serious human rights record, the
French press criticized Syria for allegedly shielding Nazi war criminal,
Alois Brunner. The Syrians say Brunner is not in their country. What
do we know about Brunner's whereabouts?
INDYK: That is an important question. And I'd like to take it if you
would allow me, and let's try to get you an accurate answer on that in
terms of what it is that we know about it.
SALMON: What significance do you attach to the recent visit of two
British warships to Syria?
INDYK: Two British warships? I'm not aware of it, but I wouldn't
attach great significance to it. I'm not aware of some new Pax
Brittanica based on a relationship with Damascus.
GILMAN?: Yemen claims the disputed Red Sea island of Duwaima the site
of recent clashes. Saudi Arabia says it's 75 percent Saudi, 25 percent
Yemeni-owned. What information do we have about the status of the
INDYK: Yes, that is an island that has been recently in dispute, so
much so it's been the subject of an armed clash between Saudi and Yemeni
armed forces. Three Yemeni soldiers were killed. But the Saudi and
Yemeni governments have, I think, resolved the immediate conflict which
is related to the broader issue of defining the border between Saudi
Arabia and Yemen. The island is strategically located. And it's in
dispute because of the question of where that border extends to out into
the sea from the coast between Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The Yemeni
foreign minister, a few days ago, visited Saudi Arabia. And I believe
there'll be some return visit from the Saudi foreign minister. And we
hope that negotiations will resume over the border. They're close to
settling this long-running dispute. And we have urged both sides to
return to the table and to try to resolve their differences there. We
think they can be resolved quite quickly. And then these kinds of
incidents can be avoided in the future.
SALMON: Since fiscal year 1997, Yemen has received no U.S. assistance
except for a small amount of IMET, $125,000. Does the administration
intend to increase these aid levels to Yemen?
INDYK: We would like to see our aid to Yemen increase, and we're
grateful for the support that we have received from members of Congress
for that effort. We, you know, the Yemeni government faces some
extraordinary difficulties in meeting the needs of its people, is
engaged on a process of political and economic reform which we want to
There is a real humanitarian need there. And as oil prices have fallen,
the ability of the Yemeni government to meet the needs of its people has
also become more difficult. We are working to improve Yemen's ability
to conduct free and fair elections, strengthen the legislative branch of
government. We've allocated now $1.3 million for this purpose, and
we'll be beginning those projects very soon.
In terms of supporting economic reform, we've used pipeline funds to
extend our program of maternal and child health care and training
programs. And that program will extend through the year 2000 now. And we
have also supported and IMF-enhanced structural adjustment facility, and
participated in a round of debt rescheduling according to Paris Club
INDYK: From our point of view, a stable Yemen that is able to meet the
needs of its people, and that is interested in building closer relations
with the United States and the West, is very much in our interests and
in the interests of regional stability. And so we will be coming to the
Congress again in the context of the FY '99 assistance to seek a
continuation of assistance to Yemen.
SALMON: Have we seen any tangible benefits that have resulted from the
INDYK: In terms of the IMET program itself, I think that we are now
beginning to see the development of closer military ties with Yemen. I
wouldn't want to exaggerate this. This is just fledgling steps. We've
-- General Zinni has also visited there recently -- and Admiral Fargo
(ph), the outgoing head of fleet operations. The Yemeni government is
keen to build a relationship with us. And I think, again, the broader
context needs to be borne in mind. Yemen was a country which came down
in support of Iraq during the Gulf War. I think that President Saleh
and his government have come to understand the lack of wisdom in that
approach. And, as they have distanced themselves from Iraq, we have
been interested in building our relationship with them. And that is a
work in progress. We want to see them to continue to distance
themselves from Iraq. And we want to be responsive to them. And we're
prepared to also see the building of a limited military relationship
that would benefit us as well. I think we also need to bear in mind that
Saudi Arabia is a critical ally of the United States in the region.
And, therefore, we are always sensitive to Saudi Arabia's concerns. And
it's one of the reasons why we think it's very important that Saudi
Arabia and Yemen resolve their border dispute.
And we want to see Yemen continue on the course that it has been
embarked on for some years now -- of settling its disputes with its
neighbors, and becoming a constructive participant in an effort to
promote regional stability in an area of vital concern to us.
SALMON: One final question: Many of the Gulf states are wrestling with
the effects of falling oil prices. If price does not recover quickly,
to what extent will political stability in the Gulf states be
INDYK: Look, this is an important question and one that maybe we should
pursue when we have a chance to meet with the committee again. The fall
in oil prices is having a deleterious economic impact on -- not only on
the oil rich or oil producing countries in the Gulf, but also on other
Arab countries who are dependent upon markets in the Gulf or export of
their labor to the Gulf to work there.
And that's going to impact on Jordan, who's already -- which is already
having economic difficulties. It's going to impact on Egypt. It impacts
on Syria. So overall, the expected prolonged low oil prices is going to
impact on the region's economic prospects.
It also, I would point out, is a serious problem for Iran, which is one
of the biggest oil exporters and is facing now over a four- billion
deficit in its budget -- which is going to crimp its spending. To try to
answer your question shortly in terms of the impact on political
stability, we don't see a short-term impact. These governments are
going to have to tighten their belts. They're going to have to adjust
in ways that will lead them, I think, to cut their support and subsidies
that they've been able to finance in the past because of oil revenues.
And that could have an effect over time. And it's something we'll need
to watch closely.
SALMON: I -- before we adjourn this hearing, I do have a copy of the
Reuters report regarding the two British warships visiting this area.
I'll give you that.
INDYK: Thank you.
SALMON: And with that, this hearing is now concluded. Thank you.
INDYK: Thank you very much, Mr. (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
©Copyright 1998, US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Page last updated/revised 052801
Return to the Bahá'í Association's Main Web Page