The text below is a portion of an interview conducted for Rolling Stone magazine by Paul Alexander. The interview occured in mid-August 2001, before the current World Trade Center situation. I read it last night and found it interesting in light of current devolpments.

Note: To those concerned about copyright, the following text represents only a small portion of the entire interview. Also the embolded sections were done by me.

In recent weeks, tension in Israel has heightened enormously. Some people in Israel believe they're in a warlike situation right now. In your opinion, what's the main immediate problem causing this unrest?

The immediate cause of the problem is the failure of the peace negotiations at Camp David.

Is there a person or organization responsible for that?

Well, as far as the failure of the peace talks is concerned, President Clinton is a major culprit, because Arafat told him, before Camp David began, that he could not make agreements. He was not prepared to do so. So therefore, President Clinton allowed his ambition to override good sense and convene this meeting believing that somehow - through sheer force of will and personality - he could get these people to agree.

Look, Jimmy Carter's great achievement at Camp David was simply to get a withdrawal of the Israelis from the Sinai. I mean, come on. What President Clinton tried to do was incredibly and totally unrealistically ambitious.

Was it politically smart even to convene that talks?

It was obviously disastrous to have this meeting, to heighten expectations to a level that, when it failed, the consequences are what they are today.

What do you think of Yasir Arafat?

I believe that he is corrupt and lacks either the courage or the ability to make decisions that would lead to peace but may lead to his loss of power. I think he represents a constituency that never seriously addressed the issue of relation between the two countries. In other words, as long as they are teaching their children in textbooks that the Israelis have to be destroyed, that’s not the peace process as we contemplate it.

Can we find a way for the Israelis and the Palestinians to live in peace?

This is a very harsh statement. Ever since the Oslo agreement, we have been trying to find a way for the Israelis and the Palestinians to live together, in peace. Now we may have to find a way for them to live apart, in peace.

This decision has got to be made by the Israelis and not by the U.S. government. But it may mean that the Israelis may have to se up secure boundaries between Israel and Palestinian lands. This is much more difficult than would first appear, because you’ve got [Jewish] settlements that are way deep in Palestinian territory. To have a secure border, it would mean incredible construction challenges, as well.

But what are the options? More pizza parlors being blown up by terrorists, or basically separating the two sides? It’s a very intractable situation. But I don’t think, if Canadian citizens were coming into Niagara Falls and blowing up pizza parlors, that the American people would be very tolerant of the situation.

Source:
"John McCain" interviewed by Paul Alexander
Rolling Stone Magazine. Issue 878 Sept. 27, 2001

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