Prof. Galia Golan: The issue of the international community in the conflict changes from month to month, given the way our conflict and situation changes constantly. The question on the immediate agenda is: What role, if any, can the international community, or specific states or parties in the international community, play in the disengagement process? And, if you believe the international community can play a positive role, what practical steps could it take, if it would be permitted to do so?

Amb. Giancarlo Chevallard: I will begin by noting that the international community is acutely aware that the question of territories for the future Palestinian state is decisive. The disengagement plan is therefore something we support, and we want it to succeed. We believe the entire international community should be involved in helping to carry it out. The sooner this is acknowledged the better. We are convinced that the Israelis themselves realize the plan needs the contribution and support of the international community. But, so far, they have refrained from stating it openly.
I will go even further. At the end of the day, it will be a plus for all parties to involve the UN, and in particular the UN Security Council, which can contribute to creating the best conditions for success. I know this is very unpopular in Israel, especially these days. The Israeli leadership may, anyhow, be led to realize that is has to go to the UN to gain the support of the World Bank, and of the other international players for whatever is needed to make the disengagement plan feasible in terms of assets, monitoring, etc. So my answer to your question is - yes, the international community does have a positive role to play.

MK Eti Livni: We always thought that disengagement and all the negotiations with the Palestinians should be bilateral, that the two sides should negotiate and come to an agreement. Beyond that there is the greater world, the United States and the European Union, every nation that wants to be involved. This is relevant for the fate of the settlements, the buildings, the process of handing them over to the Palestinians, help in the reconstruction of an airport and of all kinds of industries, etc. This is very important and we seek such an involvement from the European Union as well as the Americans.
Now the Egyptians have become part of a bilateral process - which supposedly doesn't exist because everything is "unilateral." However, we accept the special Egyptian role in the Gaza Strip to facilitate disengagement, not as a player in the dialogue that we expect to have, but as somebody who will facilitate and help in the crucial issues, like the Philadelphi Corridor and the tunnels.

Prof. Munther Dajani: Usually in bilateral relations, the parties have to be equal, have parity. But the Israeli-Palestinian relationship is not equal. The Palestinians keep saying, "We want the intervention of a third party or an international body, because the Israelis are not committed to peace." The Israelis say, "We don't want a third party," but they say they are committed to peace and want bilateral relations. How can this dilemma be resolved?

MK Livni: We think the disengagement process is the first stage in the Road Map. We are doing our part of the first stage, and we expect the Palestinians to follow and deal with the terrorist groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and then we will proceed further.

Prof. Golan: Mr. Minister, could you relate to this, the idea of bilateral negotiations but with a third-party role in implementation?

Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh: Speaking about a third party means you have a first, second and third party. In this case, we don't have a second party. So we are speaking about a situation in which the entire exercise is unilateral, and the plan is evading bilateral relations and third-party intervention.
There is a role for a third party, but it is still not clear whether disengagement is linked to the Road Map. The authors of the Road Map, the Quartet, are a third party.
Our discussion should not focus on the Philadelphi Corridor, or whether the Egyptians are there or not. [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon's disengagement plan was not negotiated - it was formulated without consultation with the Palestinians. Certain elements of the disengagement plan relate to the West Bank. So what do you do when it comes to the West Bank? What role can the Egyptians play there? In my opinion, Sharon wants the Egyptians to play a facilitating role, a police role. He is replacing the second party, or the partner, with a third party, so that the third party can be a security guarantor to enable the exercise to succeed.
I am sure the Egyptians are NOT ready to accept this. But the third party in this case is not just a facilitator. The Egyptians are actually partners, because they have borders with the Palestinian territory.
The Quartet approached a technical body, the World Bank, to conduct an economic assessment of the impact of disengagement on the Palestinians. The World Bank report indicates that Sharon's disengagement plan will not provide any economic benefits to the Palestians. The situation may even get worse. The bank has rejected the idea of becoming a custodian of the property in the Gaza Strip settlements. The Israelis suggested that the World Bank make an asset assessment, an evaluation of the property value, which would be deposited in an international fund. That money would eventually be used as compensation for the Palestinian refugees the moment the final-status issue is settled. The bank obviously thought that this is too political for them to handle, and they have only agreed to make an economic assessment of what is at stake.
First of all, maybe we can use Gaza as a model for third-party intervention, and we prefer in this case that the third party be the United Nations. If it is a successful intervention, we hope that such an intervention will move to the West Bank, as well. Thus the disengagement from Gaza is a phase in the overall process.
For us, the disengagement from Gaza is a step toward ending occupation in all the Palestinian territory. Therefore, the issue of the corridor between the West Bank and Gaza, or what the Oslo Agreement referred to as a "Safe Passage," is extremely important. The safe passage is unique, because it is a road that will go through Israel. A third party will be needed to monitor the corridor and movement of Palestinians so that everything is kept within the terms of reference.

Prof. Golan: I would like to ask the consul general if there is a role for an international body, the Quartet or the UN, to help with implementation - the possibility of changing the disengagement agreement into one in which Israel withdraws its military and the settlements, but turns over the entrances and exits, the airport, sea and land access, to an international body.

Consul General John Jenkins: I think we have to focus very clearly on what is actually possible, rather than what may be ideal in the best of all possible worlds.
This disengagement process is a dynamic process, and what you said at the beginning is true, this is a moving target. It is very difficult to sit down and develop a set of prescriptions for who should do what.
There is massive international interest in resolving this dispute. That interest has been here for the last 50 years or so and it remains. Given the lack of clarity at the moment - what disengagement would actually mean and how it is going to work, how the relationship between the two parties, the Palestinians and the Israelis, is going to be managed - if there is this role for a third party, it is probably going to be in shaping the way the disengagement happens rather than prescribing how it should work. It has to be shaped in such a way, as far as international actors are concerned, that it leads back to the Road Map. It has to form part of a bigger process. That is imperative.
From what we have seen in Gaza, with the discussions over this disengagement plan so far, I think three particular themes have emerged: security, the economy and politics, and the restructuring of Palestinian politics. The international community will not address all three issues in exactly the same way, with the same actors.
You were talking about the World Bank. The economic report, an extremely good one, is designed to focus attention on the weaknesses of simple military disengagement from Gaza. This is what I mean by shaping the plan. Disengagement should lead to a broader context. It should reenergize the peace process - which means giving the Palestinians hope, reenergizing the Palestinian economy, and so forth.
I do not think there has been international engagement - there has been international help, a massive third party role for the last 10 years. The international community has given something like $10 billion over the last 10 years to the Palestinian Authority, and the result is a stalemate and deterioration in the economic situation. There will be massive reluctance among the donors simply to act as the cashiers of a plan, of a process in which they have no stake. That is going to be a major issue.
When people talk about the international community coming into Gaza, rebuilding things, putting money in, I don't think it is going to work. But it also suggests avenues in which the international community can act constructively.
The international community has to think of this as a constructive opportunity. The World Bank reports say, if there is a process that provides for access to export markets for the Palestinians in Gaza, and by extension, later on the West Bank, the international community would probably provide money. The bank set a figure of $500 million for this, which in terms of what has been given over the last 20 years is not very much.
I don't see this working without security. The problem with closure, which has been the principal cause of the decline in the last few years in the Palestinian territory, is not going to be addressed without basic security. The Egyptians are certainly very keen to play a role, although it is still unclear to me exactly what that role will be.
I think there are other actors who can play a role. We (the British) are doing something for the Palestinian security services in the West Bank.

Prof. Golan: Minister Shtayyeh, how do you see the possible role of the third party on the issue of security?

Minister Shtayyeh: The Palestinian Authority functioned very well on security matters between 1994 and 2000. All that is needed is to reinforce the security apparatus, design it, reform it, whatever you want to call it.
I am not sure whether the international community has a role to play in security, except in training and funding. Will somebody come and guarantee the security of the State of Israel? This has nothing to do with our own security. Supposedly, you need a third-party intervention to protect the borders, so that the Palestinians are kept quiet, but what about Palestinian security and ending the occupation?
I don't think that solves any security problem. If the Palestinian security structure is not empowered enough, and if the Palestinian security forces are not allowed to function, bringing someone to monitor the borders will not solve anything.
The international community is helping, the British are doing some training, the Egyptians would do some training, and others also want to empower and strengthen the Palestinian security structure. The purpose of this whole exercise is a preparatory step toward the establishment of the Palestinian State
As his Excellency has just mentioned, I think it is important that the international community is not only a check-paying body - it has to be involved in obliging Israel to comply with international law. Third parties cannot just be donors - they must become genuinely engaged in the process, and not just as facilitators. What we want is that the international community should become arbitrators. Arbitration is the most important element of third-party intervention.
There has been an accumulation of failed agreements. We signed Oslo, we signed different agreements with Israelis and we used to go to the Americans and tell them, "Listen guys, you signed on to this document, [Hosni] Mubarak did, King Hussein did, [Bill] Clinton did," and so on. Where is the Hebron agreement? It is not implemented. Where is this? Where is that? The third party has always confined itself either to a donor's role or a facilitator.
In the case of Palestine, that is not enough, especially at the political level. It is not enough that the European Union is only a donor or a facilitator. It is not enough that the Americans are facilitators. In the case of Palestine, you need more that facilitation or even mediation. You need a situation in which the international community says, "Listen guys, here is the will of the international community: One, two, three. This provides international legitimacy." The question is not only security, the question of Palestine and third parties has to be taken as a complete package - security, economic, political and all other aspects.

Prof. Dajani: Your Excellency, based on what Dr. Shtayyeh is saying, can the EU be more than a donor and become an arbitrator?

Amb. Chevallard: The answer is no, as concerns the role of the EU as an arbitrator. It is different concerning the way we interpret our donor's role.
We have been the main donor to the Palestinian Authority. Thus, we are in a particularly strong position on the point that was raised by our British colleague - we don't want to continue being a simple provider of funds, a simple cashier. We want much more than that. That is clear and unanimously recognized within Europe. We are ready to generously contribute to the success of the disengagement plan, but this must entail on our side a role in the political area, and by political area I mean, first of all, in the internal Palestinian institutional processes. We want to be able to advance the political reform, the institutional and democratic process, and last but not least the elections within the Palestinian Authority.

Prof. Dajani: Elections in Gaza?

Amb. Chevallard: Elections within the Palestinian territories, be it in the West Bank or Gaza. Secondly, concerning security, there may be a need of an active role for the international community. The European Union may be ready to contribute to ensure that the security structures of the Palestinian Authority are performing well enough, for instance by providing training and material. Whatever is needed - we are open to it. Provided we have a say and control in the way the money is spent and the security structures are developed.
I would like to stress that we will also have demands on the Israeli side. This is not a one-way street, with demands being made only on the Palestinians. We want to obtain concrete assurances the Gaza disengagement is a first step. Disengagement is not just an end in itself. Implementation of the Road Map begins with the Gaza disengagement and must continue with the West Bank and all the provisions laid out in the Road Map for settlements and so on.
We also want to agree upon precise conditions with the Israelis for the movement of Palestinians in and out of Gaza - the communication of the people of Gaza with the outside world, which means airport and sea communications. I think it is important for Israel to be aware that the EU will be, anyway, present in Gaza, with or without a common plan with Israel. We consider it highly preferable that this EU role in Gaza be agreed upon with Israel, and, of course, with the Palestinians as well.

Prof. Golan: Member of Knesset Livni, what do you think about this idea of third-party arbitration?

MK Livni: The Israeli view is that no arbitration is needed for this conflict. The Israeli public is suspicious of the European side; it was always seen as more pro-Palestinian, more pro-Arab than the Americans. It is very difficult today to give the Europeans an active role in this conflict or to think about arbitration. I think it is a very bad idea - what has arbitration to do with this 50-year-old conflict? Somebody will come from the outside and tell us, "Go here, go there?"
We should negotiate, and as the Ambassador said, and our Prime Minister has said again and again, the disengagement is a part of the Road Map. It doesn't begin and end by itself. It is a process and that is the reason that those four remote settlements in Samaria are part of this disengagement, showing that it is the start of a process. If it will progress more or less in a favorable manner, there will be a second phase.
What does that mean? Terrorism is not a simple issue. It should be handled in a serious way - not just giving money that goes to fund terror. We have traced the course of monies given by the EU and it went straight to finance terror. It hasn't been used by Yasser Arafat to finance the growth of the Palestinian economy.
I think disengagement is a very important step in the process. As the consul general said, you can't determine how things will turn out. You can't see what will emerge out of this disengagement. I believe that the disengagement is a momentum, and as a momentum it is a very important phase, a very important start from the stalemate we have been in for the last four years.

Prof. Golan: Could you see a role, such as was suggested by the ambassador, for a third party to be sitting on the border, which would prevent Israel from moving in or out at will? Could you envisage a third party actually handling access to and from Gaza?

MK Livni: Do you see a third party preventing terrorism, preventing the building of tunnels, preventing explosions? I doubt that a third party can do these things, and it will prevent the Israelis from carrying out any actions against terror, against the Kassam rockets being fired into Israeli territory. I think it would only complicate the situation. We don't want Europeans to be killed on the borders, either by Palestinians or by Israelis. We first have to settle the situation and then let the Europeans play a role in the implementation.

Prof. Dajani: If the prime minister has goodwill and his plan is part of the Road Map, why isn't he playing by the rules of the Road Map? Why is the process only a bilateral one, between the Americans and the Israelis, without anybody else? Where are the Palestinians and the rest of the Quartet?

MK Livni: What is the first stage of the Road Map? Israel must not enlarge the settlements while removing the illegal and remote settlements, and simultaneously the Palestinians must control the terror and the terrorists. That is the first stage. There is no part for the Quartet or the Americans in this stage. Once we play our part in the first stage, we expect the Palestinians to do their part and proceed towards controlling the terrorist situation, and then we will move to the second stage. I believe that the prime minister will be ready to negotiate with Prime Minister Abu Ala (Ahmad Qurei), as soon as he will be ready to deliver.

Consul General Jenkins: What we expected last year we can't expect this year. Whatever happens, it will take place within a political framework that will be determined by Israeli and Palestinian political constraints. Today the international community has a responsibility to try and build bridges, linkages, which will enable disengagement to be part of a wider process. This might involve the issue of access points. Sharon's proposal seems to envisage an international involvement in this at some future point, if there is sufficient progress.
The international community can also do something for security, and can help with the economy, in the West Bank, as well. All of these are building blocks that can be integrated into the disengagement process.
The Egyptian involvement in Gaza seems to be important to the Israeli government, and I think that is a good starting point. This means we already have a third-party involvement. I can also envision an EU involvement perhaps in the areas of civil policing and safety.

Minister Shtayyeh: Concerning the question of Israeli allegations about the use of European money for funding terrorism, many European parliament committees have come here to investigate this and they concluded that all the money goes into projects, humanitarian assistance.
To return to the question of international involvement, [former Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies director) Yossi Alpher showed me a poll in Seville, Spain, indicating that 70 percent of the Israelis prefer an imposed solution by the international community
We prefer a negotiated solution, but a negotiated solution with the aid of a party that is an honest broker, an honest third party that gets involved in monitoring the process, and eventually becomes an arbitrator.
We are very concerned about the current reality on the ground. Our day-to-day reality is that Palestinians are attacked every day. If the international community really wanted to stop violence, international observers would come and see who is really violating the cease- fire, and stop the violence. That is an important step for both of us. We don't want to see funerals every day and obviously the Israelis don't want to see Israelis killed every day. That is a point of departure for a third party to say, "Okay, you two sides have agreed to a cease-fire, and I am ready to monitor it." Third-party involvement in day-to-day realities is very important for us.
At a later stage, third parties could monitor borders. The third party is needed today, not because there are no partners, because the partners are not talking to each other.
For us, this is not disengagement, but rather a process of ending occupation. If the prime minister of Israel would give a clear declaration saying that this process will lead to an end to occupation, it would generate hope for the Palestinian people and that is what is needed. Palestinians need hope, and the Israelis need security.
A third party can bring the two parties together, but we don't have a partner. Sharon wants two things: a plan of his own and a partner of his own. He says, "I don't want to speak to Arafat, I only want to speak to this man."

MK Livni: Who is this man?

Minister Shtayyeh: This man, regardless.

MK Livni: Abu Ala is the prime minister…

Minister Shtayyeh: Abu Ala is our prime minister, but you don't decide who our representatives are.

Amb. Chevallard: I would like to make a comment about your (MK Livni's) harsh statement concerning the EU funding terrorism. It's not true.

MK Livni: I just came from Germany where I spoke with Bunderstadt people, and they were very concerned about where the money was going.

Amb. Chevallard: No evidence has been provided that European money went to finance terror. Before we started funding the Palestinian Authority budget in December 2000, the Israelis have, according to their legal obligations, been transferring funds to the PA. The Palestinian were buying weapons, for instance for their security forces, with the money provided by the Israelis. Currently, Israel has resumed the transfer of money due to them, using exactly the same procedures that the EU used. The European Union has simply taken over the Israeli financial obligation to the PA during a period of time. It has acted in no way different from what Israel has done.
You also said that Europeans are more pro-Arab than the U.S. I think it would be more accurate to say that the Europeans are less pro-Israeli than the U.S. We are not particularly pro-Arab, we are very much for Israel even if we are not 100 percent behind current Israeli policies. Because we are friends of Israel and committed to Israeli security, we give advice. Certainly, the EU would appreciate being better listened to, and being associated with the diplomatic process underway.
The EU and the European capitals noted with some dismay that when the disengagement plan was presented, the EU was left uninformed. It was presented only to the United States, which we certainly consider the priority partner. Only recently, after a continuous shuttle of Israeli personalities to Washington, there were short visits of Israeli representatives to Brussels, and later to other European capitals. That is evidence of the modest consideration that Israel gives to the European Union, while at the same time it expects the EU to contribute financially and otherwise to the disengagement plan and to the PA reforms.

MK Livni: The Israeli parliament is also not satisfied, because the plan was presented first to the Americans and only afterward to the parliament, so we are in the same boat.

Amb. Chevallard: So far, we have been talking about a third party, the international community, but we must give substance to this third-party idea, which would act on agreed-upon political, security and economic terms. One easy way would be to say that the Americans, the U.S. alone, embody the international community. That would be hardly acceptable to the European Union. We are not likely to be ready to fund or participate in an exclusively American-led operation - to be a "payer" and not also a "player." By the way, my perception is that the U.S. itself is not ready for such an exclusive role.
And, even if Israel was theoretically ready to give priority to the European Union as head of an international force, we would not be ready to assume this role alone. The contribution of the Quartet as a main player is a possibility that could be considered.
We come back to the main option, the United Nations as the vehicle of real international involvement. The UN should be the legitimizing authority for the international community. The UN has the experience and resources to contribute in a substantive way to the process of disengagement.
For disengagement to succeed, it needs a set of rules which are binding for everybody, Israel and the Palestinians in particular. Only the United Nations has the authority to set such rules, and to ensure they are abided by. I cannot see the European Union or any other partner supporting a process where each partner has a free hand in setting the rules or, even worse, in disregarding the commitments it has taken upon itself.

Prof. Dajani: Since you are a member of Knesset and the government coalition, how do you see the role of international involvement?

MK Livni: Not on the security side, but in all other aspects - in the political, economic, building up of infrastructure, in every aspect, but not in the security. For us, that's crucial, since it's a matter of life and death.

Prof. Golan: What about the British role?

Consul General Jenkins: We have been working with the Palestinian security forces in the West Bank, to help them implement what they themselves have defined as the real purpose of Palestinian security. Irrespective of what anybody thinks should happen, the practical reality is that, unless the Palestinians show that they are capable, not just of addressing the sort of security concerns that Israel has, but of also asserting their own credibility as a governmental institution among ordinary Palestinians, they are going nowhere. One of the dangers is the potential disappearance or irrelevance of the Palestinian Authority. If that were to happen, we wouldn't know who the actual institutional partner was.
We have been trying to work from the bottom up rather than from the top down. The Egyptian approach may be slightly different. But it is all designed to work toward the same goal, an attempt to find linkages between what we have and what may develop with the disengagement plan, which ultimately means negotiations. These are small things because the situation is so fragile, particularly on the Palestinian side.
As an outside observer, I think the Israeli government is trying to define the degree to which they need international involvement and what that means in practical terms. My conclusion is that the Israeli government wants an international dimension, but it wants to be able to constrain it, to contain it. How far that will be possible depends on the dynamics of the disengagement itself.

Prof. Dajani: Your Excellency, people on the Palestinian street keep saying that there isn't enough European involvement on the ground because the Americans will not allow it. How true is that - is there such a thing as limitations by the Americans on the EU?

Amb. Chevallard: The first limitation is in ourselves. We have some limitations in terms of the EU means for international actions. This being said and taken as a given, I think the Americans are sincerely planning things within the Quartet framework. I believe the U.S. is fully aware that the EU has a central role as a future neighbor of this region, particularly now that we have enlarged into 25 member states bordering with Israel. We have a special role to play.
The relations between the European Union and Israel are good, developing and flourishing, but to touch on a rather sensitive subject, our political dialogue is limited and full of suspicions. Israelis say that this is because they have much more in common with the U.S. than the EU. Our point is that this conflict needs also a more balanced partner in order to engage the Palestinians and to find realistic middle-of-the-road arrangements in the context of the final settlement.
That is why we object to this Israeli rejection of any EU role in the near future. With a new EU foreign minister and the development of our common policy tools, we see an increased Israeli interest in the EU. We play a significant role in Israeli economic life, and the country is very dependent on the European Union for export, investment, research and all sorts of cooperative ventures.
Israel will have to take the EU into account if it wants to expand its bilateral profitable relationship with Europe. The EU has shown recently that it is ready to go ahead, but this bilateral expanded partnership cannot be developed without an active EU involvement in the diplomatic process. Our relationship is a whole, and if we want, as we wish, to upgrade it into a full, strategic partnership, it would be a contradiction to separate the bilateral cooperation from the political-security EU-Israeli cooperation. The enlarged Union, with its common sea border with Israel, has enormous interests at stake that require stability in the Middle East. We will promote those interests.

Prof. Golan: I recently read some public opinion polls indicating that the Palestinians are not very enthusiastic about Egyptian involvement, while surprisingly the Israelis are quite enthusiastic about Egyptian involvement. I have heard that, if the Egyptians played a role in security inside the Gaza Strip, that would be exchanging one occupation for another? Would it be preferable to have Israeli rather than Egyptian control of the access points?

Minister Shtayyeh: I think the Egyptian role is interesting to watch, for many reasons. First of all, there is internal pressure on Egypt not to get involved, from two different circles. The Egyptians are very aware that it is a very muddy situation. Their involvement in Yemen during the Nasser period was not a pleasant exercise, thus some are very cautious about future involvements.
The second circle believes that Egypt is not a mediator when it comes to the question of Palestine. "We are a party to the struggle; we are with the Palestinians during their struggle for liberation." So it is a very awkward situation.
For us, it has always been stated by our president and the prime minister that the Egyptians are there upon our invitation. We asked for an Egyptian role because we think it has two dimensions. It is important for Egypt to help build our different security structures. Egypt is also a partner because the Rafah border is an Egyptian/Palestinian border. Security arrangements would have to be coordinated with Egypt to make the people's life easier. Thus, there would be a difference between an Israeli occupation and a Palestinian takeover in full coordination with the Egyptians.
In the Palestinian psyche there is a legacy that is called the regional legacy. Therefore, it is also important for us to be politically sensitive to what and how and for how long and how deep each of the regional parties are ready to get involved and are welcome to get involved. That is why it has been suggested that the Egyptians are welcome to train Palestinian security personnel in the West Bank, as well as in Gaza.
Sharon sees them as a potential partner because of the geo-politics of Egypt and the region, the political weight of Egypt and, in particular, the unique relationship of Egypt to President Yasser Arafat.

Prof. Golan: At the recent NATO meeting in Turkey, there was talk about expanding NATO in our part of the world. While the EU as such is not a member of NATO, many of the member states are. Can NATO play a role in the process, as it has in other areas of the world?

Consul General Jenkins: There is no prospect of anybody playing a role without the consent of the parties. Do I think that if NATO wanted to play a role in this area there would be consent? No, I don't think they would get Israeli consent.
The Egyptians are trying to negotiate their way toward building consent with regards to the Palestinian Authority and Israel. That is a process that everybody has to go through if they want a role. There are asymmetries of power, sensitivities and politics that need to be negotiated by anybody who wants to get involved.
One of the reasons why the Egyptian role is important is precisely because the Egyptians themselves have a significant national interest in ensuring that Gaza works in a certain way. I also think the nature of the situation is that they understand what happens in Gaza probably better than virtually anybody else. That plays a part in the manufacturing of consent.
As for NATO, I don't know about the future, but at the moment I would say that it is an interesting idea because it is certainly a paradigm that is being applied elsewhere. The trouble is I don't think it can be applied unchanged here.

Minister Shtayyeh: We haven't discussed the timing of third- party involvement - now or later, before the agreement or to monitor the implementation of the agreement? That is an important issue. We, the Palestinians and the Israelis, were given a chance to sit down and negotiate on a bilateral basis. The peace talks started with an invitation from the United States in Madrid, the famous Letter of Invitation by (then Secretary of State) Jim Baker. This was followed by the Washington talks, then the parties were helped by third-party facilitation, Norway, and then the two parties were left on their own and an agreement was born. The weakness of the agreement is that the signatories at the White House alongside the two parties - the Americans, Europe, the Egyptians and the Jordanians - were there as celebrities rather than as parties that said, "Listen guys, there is an agreement, you have to follow it." That is the lesson we have learned from the Oslo Agreement. Its weakness was that it did not have an arbitration mechanism.
We are currently in a tremendous mess, and the crisis requires third-party intervention. We used to say two things: no representation, no delegation. That means that nobody else represents us, nobody is delegated on our behalf.
The PLO fought hard to be the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and we achieved that recognition in 1974. Today, Sharon is trying to find regional partners to play with and to settle the issue of the question of Palestine without the Palestinians. This takes us, as Palestinians, back 40 years to what we fought in blood for, the fact that the Palestinian leadership is the representative of the Palestinian people.
Thus both issues - legitimacy and timing - are extremely important when it comes to third-party intervention.

Prof. Golan: Member of Knesset Livni said that she thought negotiations should be bilateral, but implementation could have a third party at some point. To avoid unilateralism, is Israel trying to get a third party involved now rather than dealing with the PLO? Can a third party be introduced at this point to get the negotiating process started again and to ensure that the disengagement agreement will lead to further steps?

MK Livni: As the British consul general says, "You can't fix it now - let us start something new because we are in a mess." I believe disengagement will begin a momentum, and once that starts and the Palestinians see that it is a good plan, it will lead toward the development of a process. If the Gaza Strip stabilizes a little, we can move on from there to bilateral negotiations. That is why we as a party (Shinui) and as members of parliament, even though we would prefer a negotiated agreement, are backing Sharon's disengagement plan, because you have to start somewhere. You can't start a dialogue when your people are being killed. Somebody has to take control. After calm is achieved, it will be possible to have a dialogue.

Prof. Dajani: The Vietnamese negotiated for several years while bombing was taking place. And how would Israelis feel if Palestinians sai, "We don't want to speak to Sharon, change your Sharon." Even if a Palestinian wanted to criticize Arafat, he is our elected president, and if the Israelis say he is not our partner, we have to support him.
I believe the Israelis and the Palestinians are interested in moving forward, so how can we jumpstart the situation?

MK Livni: We tried again and again to work with Mr. Arafat, and it didn't work. This is also the view of the Europeans and the Americans.

Minister Shtayyeh: Here is the representative of the European Union, don't say that the Europeans don't want to talk to President Arafat. Ask the Europeans.

Amb. Chevallard: The foreign minister of France recently visited Arafat. Others have done it before, others may follow, even though we support doing business with the PA prime minister.

MK Livni: What about Joschka Fischer, the foreign minister of Germany, ask him?

Amb. Chevallard: The official policy of the European Union is that Mr. Arafat is the elected leader of the PA and, moreover, he holds, whether we like it or not, the central power position within the PA.

Prof. Golan: I think an appropriate conclusion to this discussion is that perhaps the most significant role of the international community today would be to make a connection between disengagement, as a first step, and the Road Map. This could conceivably get us moving.

Prof. Dajani: We really thank you all for being with us. Israelis, Palestinians and people from the international community will read this, and we hope they will make use of it.