Middle East Peace 'Farther Away Than Ever' Following Embassy Move, Leon Panetta Says09:49
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U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embrace onstage during the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018 in Jerusalem, Israel. Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December, and announced an embassy move from Tel Aviv, prompting deadly protests in Gaza. (Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images,)MoreCloseclosemore
U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embrace onstage during the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018 in Jerusalem, Israel. Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December, and announced an embassy move from Tel Aviv, prompting deadly protests in Gaza. (Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images,)

This week Israeli soldiers killed 60 Palestinians and injured thousands more who were protesting along the border with Gaza. The U.N.'s human rights commissioner on Tuesday condemned the violence.

The protests coincided with the opening of a controversial new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on Monday.

Leon Panetta, who served as White House chief of staff for President Clinton and as both CIA director and secretary of defense under President Obama, says the embassy move will make peace in the Middle East harder to achieve.

"That objective is now farther away than ever," Panetta tells Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson.

Interview Highlights

On whether the U.S. can still be an honest broker in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

"I find it very difficult to see how the United States could now be an honest broker, because the status of Jerusalem was always one of those issues that would be resolved between the Israelis and the Palestinians through negotiations. And now having removed that issue and basically given that issue to the Israelis, it's going to be very difficult for the United States to now be any kind of credible arbiter when it comes to trying to resolve the Middle East peace situation."

On previous administrations, including administrations Panetta worked in, calling for moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem

"Well everyone obviously made that statement, but also the fact was we would support such a move only if it was part and parcel of an overall agreement for peace in the Middle East. That should still remain the goal. This isn't a question of just having the United States do whatever it wants to do. It's a question of whether or not we can get the Israelis and the Palestinians to come together and find peace in the Middle East."

On what his next step would be if he were in the Trump administration

"This administration has made it very difficult now to try to establish some credible ties to all of the parties that would have to be at the table. I would think that the objective here would be to appoint some kind of negotiator who has credibility on both sides. I'm not sure I see that kind of negotiator right now, but I think Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo is somebody who I think has the capability of perhaps identifying somebody who could kind of restore the credibility that's needed in order to bring the parties together."

On expectations for the upcoming summit between President Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un

"We have seen over 60 years of periods of provocation and periods of accommodation with the North Koreans, and the bottom line from all of that experience is, don't trust the North Koreans. Particularly now, because obviously, the main goal of the Kim family — including Kim Jong Un — is to preserve the regime. That's what they're after. And the reason they developed their nuclear weapons is in order to protect the regime. So I find it difficult to believe that they're just going to walk in and totally denuclearize and move in that direction.

"I think we're looking at probably a meeting that will in many ways be a photo op, having the president and Kim Jong Un sit down, agree to some kind of broad framework and then allow the negotiators from all the parties to be able to sit down and really work out the details. If it proceeds along those lines, then there's some hope perhaps that some kind of negotiated resolution could be achieved."

This segment aired on May 15, 2018.

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