2004 Presidential Candidates' Views on the Middle East

Carol Moseley Braun


Braun on the Israeli-Palestinian issue:

QUESTION: Senator Braun, knowing you're running for President of the United States, you didn't even talk about the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and it's a front and center, big burner in this community, would you please tell us what you would do as president to address that issue, and to help solve it?

AMBASSADOR CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN: Well, you know, I went to the grounds of the White House when Bill Clinton stood there and signed the Dayton Accords, wasn't it, at the time? That was Oslo. We had a couple of them. I think the most important thing to do is to engage, again, engage the international community to work towards peace, and that will require a recognition of the legitimate aspirations of all involved, of the legitimate right of Israel to exist within safe and secure borders, of the legitimate right of Palestine to exist within safe and secure borders, and to bring everybody to the table so that they can begin to try to work through issues of resolving the settlements, resolving this fence business, and coming together so that the kind of killing that's going on, and continues to go on today -- not just between Israel and Palestine, but that has inflamed the entire region, that that kind of killing can come to an end. That's the short hand answer. Other than having the parties come together, and I think frankly whatever it requires to do that, I would like to see Ms. Aswari play a larger role. I don't know the politics of where she is, but I'd like to see some additional voices brought to bear. But, certainly the Palestinian people have the right to choose their own leadership, and to bring to the room --

And to bring into the room whoever they choose. And in the context of that, to have both parties work towards a resolution of the issues, because it's such a small area, I've been in Israel and Palestine many times in my life, and it's not a whole lot of space. And it's just like we have a fight here at home, you have the worst fights with the guy that lives next door to you. When you've got so little space to negotiate around and over it becomes just that much more critical that you get a resolution. But, there's no question but that the destiny -- they have shared destinies, in regards to the region, in regards to resources such as water, in regards to the economy, and so that shared destiny ought to be able to provide the basis upon which there can be some progress beyond what we've seen before.

We've seen agreements and accords, and they've all been broken. I would very much like to see that there be a process in place. Whether the road map is part of that process, I don't have an answer to that. It certainly has been -- the road map is full of pot holes at the moment if you ask me. It's just kind of been going along, and there have been all kinds of problems. But, I certainly hope -- I think the first step is to actually reinspire a conversation and a genuine deliberation, under the auspices of the international community. (Source: Arab American Institute, October 18, 2003)

Braun on the security fence:

QUESTION: One more question, and it has come to me in a couple of different forms, and we just had a discussion about it a little while ago, and I'm going to ask it in my own form, because I think you have to ask it in a straight way, I don't think you have to ask it in a sort of complicated way. The question is, Israel is building a wall, the president criticized the wall, Palestinians are suffering because of the wall. It's taken land, it's taken houses, and it's simply becoming a provocation. What could be done, what would be done, what would you do as president to deal with this issue of the wall? Is that fair?

AMBASSADOR CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN: You know, the United States can no more make Israel take down the wall than it could make the Palestinians not send Yasser Arafat to the negotiations. I mean, the fact of the matter is these are issues that have to be worked out on the ground, I think, Jim. I don't think there's anything we can do to go in there and just force them to take it down. The wall is a provocation, there's no question about it. It is a horrible idea, no question about it. It really -- I don't think anybody has any doubts about that. But, the question is, what as U.S. president can you do? Well, you can use the bully pulpit to encourage the parties to come together, to finally work out these issues, because certainly there are enough needs on the ground, the people have needs, that these war mongering, and this continuing of throwing things at each other, I mean, provocations, that's what I meant to say, the continuing provocations will not solve. So working toward peace, working toward a resolution, bringing the parties together, again, under the auspices of the international community, with the United States using its bully pulpit, if you will, to try to move the process forward, I think that's the best thing that can be done with regard to the wall, as well as a variety of other issues, economic and otherwise, civil rights, human rights, there's a variety of issues, and all of them come under the rubric of working out this relationship. (Source: Arab American Institute, October 18, 2003)

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