Israeli Ambassador addresses students, GA

Former United States Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk told students Monday night Israel only has three options in its struggle with Palestinians – all of which have bad consequences.

Indyk spoke at the GW Hillel to about 60 GW students and 130 Canadian students, including members of the General Assembly – the largest gathering of Jewish professionals, lay people and students.

Although he was only able to speak for 30 minutes because of another speaking engagement, Indyk discussed Israel’s future and fielded questions.

Indyk said the first bad option is for Israel to completely pull out of the West Bank and Gaza – land contended by Palestinians – and leave the Palestinians to do what they want with it.

But Indyk said the option will not work because of the high risk of terrorism against Israel, because there is no official border agreement between the Israel and the Palestinians. He cited the Camp David Accords, which failed even though former Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat 95 percent of what he was asking for, Indyk said.

Arafat did not accept the offer and has now resorted to violence, he said.

Indyk said the second bad option is for the Israeli army to re-occupy the West Bank and Gaza. This will not work, because it would incite the public against Israelis, he said.

The third option is diplomacy, by re-instating the peace process that is currently on hold, Indyk said. This is the option that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon prefers, but the nine-year process has yet to end the conflict.

At this time Israel is trying to do a little bit of everything in hopes of coming to a amicable conclusion, Indyk said.

President of Hillel Patrick Amar from Concordia University in Canada, asked why President George W. Bush is not becoming more involved in the situation and forcing Arafat to control the terrorists in the area he controls.

Indyk responded by first citing that no president wants to act in the same manner as his predecessor.
“George Bush does not want to do what Clinton did,” Indyk said.

Indyk said he believes that once Bush is finished fighting in Afghanistan he will then turn to the terrorist groups of Hizbollah and Hamas. Bush has already put the leaders of Hizbollah on the list of the 22 most wanted terrorists.

Simon Amiel, director of Hillel, said, “Given the circumstances and that Martin Indyk had other engagements, his words were very powerful.” Students agreed they learned much from listening to Indyk discuss the situation.

“He discussed certain subjects that we have not heard about at all during the conference,” said Michael Goose of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. “It was truly amazing to hear him speak.”

Michel Ohayon, a graduate journalism student at Concordia, presented Indyk with a cap from Concordia University and a Mezuzah, a religious object placed on the doorposts of Jewish homes, in appreciation for his speech.

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