Appropos recent developments on the Palestinian front, I dug up this transcript of June 2002 interview I did on CNN before a Sharon-Bush summit. Extract:
LIN: But Tony, do you see agreement between President Bush and Yasser Arafat that both parties are making an aggressive attempt to minimize Yasser Arafat?
KARON: It has been suggested that there’s a nod and a wink to minimize Arafat’s role. At the end of the day, I think that might not really change the fundamentals of what’s at odds here. Whether people think Arafat is a good leader or a bad leader, whether they think he can deliver or not, the question that’s being asked by, you know, Mubarak and certainly during his visit on the weekend, is what exactly are we working toward here? What’s the big picture? What is the Palestinian state going to look like, with Arafat or without Arafat?
And I think there’s big disagreement on that. I think the question of Arafat can be overstated to the point that it can become something of a red herring or a distraction… this conflict is not ultimately about Arafat.
LIN: But Tony, you’ve got a log jam here. I’m trying to get some clarity for the audience. You’ve got this big meeting coming up between Ariel Sharon and President Bush tomorrow. You’ve got Ariel Sharon saying that he is not going to deal with Yasser Arafat. You’ve got the Bush administration openly questioning Arafat’s leadership role with the Palestinian people. What are the implications of this discussion? I mean, if Mr. Arafat is not going to be a partner for peace?
KARON: Well, ultimately, it’s not going to really be up to either the Americans or the Israelis to decide who represents the Palestinians…But the question really becomes, you know, Arafat, they claim they’re not happy with Arafat, they’d rather have someone else there, but what sort of positions would anyone other than Arafat take that would be fundamentally different from those Arafat has taken?