Former United States Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger on Wednesday said that an interim agreement with the Palestinian Authority (PA) must ensure that Israel’s security concerns are met but also ensure the dignity of the Palestinians.
Dr. Kissinger made the comments as he spoke to participants in the Herzliya Conference via live feed.
Discussing the option of a regional peace agreement, Dr. Kissinger expressed his doubts, saying, "I would welcome a regional peace process, theoretically it is a logical evolution. But I believe a step by step approach is better. We are not in a position to take a regional peace initiative, and it is not obvious what it can achieve. You'd assume a regional peace will include states that are no longer function as states – Syria, Iraq, Libya… If any agreement has to be more that a piece of paper, it has to have guarantees. One has to ask which countries are in position to give guarantees."
"My view remains that we will be better off with interim agreement. The problem of attaching the word 'final' to an agreement is that it makes it vulnerable to attacked. It would be easier for Arab countries to join if some parts remain blank," he added.
An interim agreement with the Palestinians, Kissinger said, "has to produce a significant increase in the ability of the Palestinian population to feel that the security arrangements are compatible with their dignity, while Israel's security concerns must continue to be protected."
He also discussed the strained relations between Israel and Western Europe and said, "I think as far as the United States is concerned, that the major leaders of both parties remain committed to the security and progress of Israel. In Western Europe it’s a different situation. Israel is in a position comparable to Vietnam – it is looked as the source of all evils."
The comments come amid pressure on Israel to resume peace talks with the PA, which have been frozen since 2014.
To that end, France recently hosted a peace summit in Paris as part of its efforts to push the sides to resume talks.
As well, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister, Adel al-Jubeir, has called on Israel to accept the Arab Peace Initiative, saying it is the best solution for the Israel-PA conflict and rejecting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's demand that the initiative be "updated" to reflect the changes that have occurred in the Middle East over the past several years.
The initiative, unveiled in 2002 and re-endorsed at the 2007 Arab League summit, says that 22 Arab countries will normalize ties with Israel in return for an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria.
Israel to date has rejected the plan due to the fact that it calls for Israel to accept the so-called "right of return" for millions of descendants of Arabs who fled pre-state Israel, effectively bringing an end to the Jewish state.