Purchased a FORA.tv video on another website? Login here with the temporary account credentials included in your receipt.
Sign up today to receive our weekly newsletter and special announcements.
Since his appointment to the post of the Israeli Ambassador to the United States in July 2002, his Excellency Daniel Ayalon has been at the forefront of developing a strong relationship between the United States and Israel. He has worked extensively with the US administration and Congress in advancing economic, political and diplomatic relations. The ambassador played a leading role in the negotiations for the Roadmap to Peace and Israel's disengagement plan, including the exchange of letters on April 14, 2004 between President Bush and Prime Minister Sharon. Ambassador Ayalon has served the last three consecutive Israeli administrations, most recently as the Chief Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. From 1997-2001 Ambassador Ayalon was the Deputy Foreign Policy Advisor to former Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Binyamin Netanyahu, during which time he was a member of the Israeli delegations the Sharm Al-Sheik in 1997, the White Plantations 1998, and the Camp David in the year 2000 summits. He served in New York from 1993-1997 as the director of the Bureau of the Israel's Ambassador to the UN and as Deputy Chief of Mission in Panama from 1991-1992. Born in 1995, Ambassador Ayalon is a native of Tel Aviv. 55 excuse me. I think I said 95, so that would put you at a very young age sir. He is a graduate of Tel Aviv's University economics department and holds an MBA from the University of Bowling Green in Ohio. He is a retired captain in the armored core of the Israel Defense Forces. Please join me in welcoming his Excellency, Daniel Ayalon. Salaam and good afternoon and thank you very much () for his very kind and detailed introductions, which I wrote. You know in Washington we say I wish my parents were here. You know, my father would have been very proud. My mother would have really believed in it. But it is really a pleasure to be here, and I thank you for the very kind invitation, for you and to Jane Wales from the World Affairs Councils of Northern California. It's also great to see here many good friends. I am honored to have here Ken Juster Undersecretaryformer Undersecretary of Commerce here. Who was a great friend in Washington, and I think San Francisco will really benefit from his presence here. You know we attach great importance to this valley area, to this San Francisco area, not only because of the similarities. And there are many similarities, not just weather wise, but I think in the culture, in the business environment, in the compatibility between our two economies and the similarities of our academic, business and research communities, and we have here a great Consulate General. This shows the importance that we attach to it. We have also, the pleasure of having here our Consulate General Mr. David Akov and his wife here. My wife Ann is here also with me also from Washington. It's really a pleasure to be here and seeing such a sunny, lovely skies and weather which is so different than Washington at this time of the year. You know Israel, as we look now towards the end of 05-06, Israel is still reeling out of this disengagement plan, which was a real excruciating, painful process for us. It was very process not just because of the precedence, but it was involving a lot of risk. Making a major rift in our own society, and our own institutions were challenged. And you have to think of relocation of Jewish people, and we are talking about communities. 21 communities, you know. 17 in Gaza, 4 in the Northern Samaria in the West Bank which were legally there, which were sent by successive Israeli governments. We are talking about 9,000 people. Some places they lived there for three generations. They didn't know anything else. They had to leave behind their lives their memories, everything that they owned and possessed, and there was a great support and sentiment from many Israelis for their staying there. A lot of majorthe majority of the population were for it, and for the Prime Minister, but there was still 25. 30% who felt really very bad and the sentiments, you know rose very, very high. There is also---I believe somebody wrote---a primordial fear which is burned into the Jewish genetic code, which is a fear of relocation or expulsions, so just think about removing Jews, by other Jews, in their own country. So it was really unprecedented and a very, very bitter experience. Although, now in retrospect I think we have come ahead and we have done it in a remarkable way. And I think here a badge of honor is worthy of our armed forces our military, for very careful and well planned program to evacuate the settlers, and also for a very clean smooth and very orderly execution, and the fact that there was no bloodshed is also a testament of great appreciation to the settlers themselves. They were very bitter, there was great dissent, there was a fear of growing civil disobedience up to at some points we feared, and some said that sentiment in the country was on the eve of a civil war. It wasit was that bad. And yet when the chips were down, and I think the most telling picture, and I'm sure that many of you saw it on television, to see that after the first day when there was a physical resistance, mostly passive resistance, both the settlers and soldiers on the roof of one of the Synagogues in Kfar Darom were praying and hugging each other. But most of all for me as an Israeli, I'm very proud of the execution of the way it was done, because what was at stake for us was really the rule of law and the democratic institutions. There was a legitimate decision taken by the cabinet, approved by the government and the Knesset and this, what we should abide by and we have. And I think that Israel is coming---although we are still licking our wounds from that, we are much stronger from now as a county, as we are now reassured of our democratic institutions and as I said, the rule of law was upheld, and democracy prevailed. And for us this was very important, especially as we were looking into the larger area of the Middle East, and we look into great changes hopefully, and we very much applaud the US campaign to try to introduce democratizations, freedom, empowerment of women, more lazzie faire, more free trade, more economic opportunities to a region of the Middle East which has been kept really far away from being abreast with the rest of the world. I believe that in the final analyses, this will provide the best security, stability and prosperity in the region. So we Israel we are very proud to be called the only democracy in the Middle East, but I wish that there would be a time soon when we would be referred to as not the only democracy, but as the first democracy in the Middle East. And these democratic rules and principals are also very important and they are also embedded in The Roadmap to Peace. When people ask, "Now what?" after this disengagement, which provided a great opportunity, not just Israel, but for the entire region and for the Palestinians," What is next?" We would like to see a political dialogue resume, between us and the Palestinians. Now we are out of Gaza. We are no longer responsible for what's happening in Gaza. It doesn't mean that we do not care. You know we did not leave a scorched earth behind, on the contrary we tried to help and coordinate as much as possible with the Palestinian authority. We left behind a lot of the properties, mainly greenhouses that could really supply immediate employment for the Palestinians and further development, and our goal is really to have Gaza prosperous, to have Gaza open, to have Gaza free. But in order for all of this to happen, we have to have Gaza secure. And we are taking a lot of risks, we have already evacuated the Philadelphia Strip, you know the border between Gaza and Egypt, allowing the Egyptians to deploy and When I talk about some of the ramifications from the disengagement, not only presenting an opportunity to the Palestinians, but also it really brought Egypt and Israel much closer together, and I'm here very satisfied to say that the Egyptians have taken seriously their role their cooperation, they are deployed on the border, although we surprised them somewhat as we surprised ourselves in the early evacuation. We were about three weeks ahead of schedule, as we did it so fast. Which there was a lapse there of about three weeks, and a lot of weapons, explosives and some terrorists moved in from EgyptSinai to the west to the Gaza. But once the Egyptians took control, I can tell you now, that smuggling has decreased significantly, and they are doing a good job. And also it's another point of cooperation between us and Egypt. Also with Jordan, we have very important relations. I would say very important strategic relations which both this axis with Egypt and Jordan is really a cornerstone of stability in our region. As I mentioned, how do we move forward? Well we would like to see now embarking on their own method to peace. . I think that after we have taken this very painful move, we would like to see the Palestinians respond in kind. And by responding in kind, all we ask from them is nothing extraordinary, but just live up to their commitments. And the first commitment according to the Roadmap to Peace is to do away, to fight terrorism. And to fight it not just in a sporadic, or in a retail way, but in a very consistent and very effective way, and also to effect some reforms in the way of governance, economic and judicial reform. The slogan of one authority, one rule of law and one gun is imperative, if they want to assume the responsibility and create for the first time in history a Palestinian state. By the way this one gun, one rule of law and one authority and fighting terror, is not just an Israeli demand nor just the United States; it is the expectation of the international community, as is prescribed in the Roadmap to Peace. As has been restated by the Quartet, the four parties which have underwritten the roadmap, and also these are obligations that the Palestinians took upon themselves, there are many questions about if they can do it or not. Well first of all, the current situation is that they do not do much, and this is very unfortunate. As we speak today we have ten warnings, ten alerts of Islamic Jihad cells who are trying to effect suicide bombing just like the one in Hadera were five Israelis lost their lives about ten days ago, or the one in Beersheba about a month and a half ago. We still see these operations, and we do not see a response and a fight against the terror, by the Palestinian Authority, and the question is can they do it? Well I submit that they certainly can do it. First of all the have the physical force, now that the General Ward, the envoy the military envoy of the United States, now was there helping them to reunite, and streamline and restructure their police and security forces, they are in a position to be much more effective. We assumed additional risk, by allowing them to import a lot of military equipment, and we know that there was a risk, because in the past, and also now because there has been a lot of leakage of military equipment from the Authority the security forces, to terrorist organizations. Whether it's Hamas, Islamic Jihad, The Popular Front, there are a lot of joint ventures. And we see in many cases we see a member of security forces during the day, at night he is a member of Hamas, doing joint venture with the Islamic Jihad. It's a problematic picture. We do not want to be involved in that. We don't want to fight the terror for them. They could be the most effective in doing that. Not only do the have the physical force under Abbas' control, but also he has the mandate of the people. He really has political support. Not only was he overwhelmingly voted in, about 63% of the population, on a platform for peaceful dialogue. 63% of the Palestinians voted for that, today--- and there are many polls that are being taken, the most credible pollster, Palestinian pollster is jalistaki---a few days ago 80% of the Palestinians believed in quitting with the violence. And it is not that they have become Zionists or lovers of Israel, but I think that there is a deep appreciation and understanding there that violence did not give any advantages. On the contrary, violence and terror undermined their national causes and their national ambitions, and the way of Arafat is the way of the past. This is what 80% of the Palestinians believe in. So with this great support it is---I believe---is politically possible for Abbas to assume responsibility, to assert his authority, to take control to deal with Hamas and Islamic Jihad in a very harsh manner. Both Islamic Jihad and Hamas, both a security threat to us no doubt it, but they are a much greater challenge for Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. Today Hamas is changing its strategy, and you see it. When Hamas was operating just against us, they didn't need much resources to affect a suicide bombing, you need one or two, maybe three people at the most, very small cells infiltrating into our midst and just blowing up in our markets, or schools, or kindergartens. We see now for the last eight or nine months, a change of strategy whereby they are building paramilitary formations, and they are recruiting a lot of personnel, and they are training, they are as I mentioned recruiting, they are importing and smuggling a lot of arms. And you can see them train in open fields, whether in school yards or in soccer or football yards in the West Bank. And when you think about why do they need these big formations? Certainly they are at disadvantage fighting against us on a regular military or army, army. Then I question myself whether it is not to pose an alternative to the Palestinian Authority. Unfortunately they let them run, and the possibility of being elected into the Palestinian Legislative Council. The elections are coming in January 25, which I think is a great mistake. Not that we don't want to deny anybody the exercise of voting. We know more than anybody, what is a free democracy, but the rule of law is also very important. And you cannot really go to the ballots, as we say, go to the ballots with bullets. And you can not have an armyor a party with a private army. I think it was imperative to demand that they would disarm, and it was very easy to involve the precedence of 1996, the first elections of the Palestinian Authority, where at that time any armed participants were barred from the elections, not voting, but from being elected. And I think this was a big mistake, so they are as I mentioned, regrouping. They are trying to pose and to build themselves politically, and the idea or the notion by some Palestinians that they can be co-opted into the Palestinian political system without asking them in return to disarm, and by the way not only disarming their weapons, I think they also should disarm their ideology. And right now their ideology calls for the destruction of the state of Israel. They do not believe in reconciliations or coexistence. They do not believe in the two states solutions. They do not believe in the Roadmap to Peace, so as Israel is not going to interfere with the elections we have taken this strategic decision, it will be up the Palestinian people to decide on this day, this 25th of January, which way they're going. And we don't want to talk about it too much publicly. We don't want to intervene in their domestic affairs, but I think there is a clear way or a clear choice whether to go Abu Mazen's way, or the other way. SO as I mentioned I believe they should disarm from their ideology, just like any other country. In Europe for instance, you cannot have a Neo-Nazi party run on a platform of genocide, this is the same way that should have been applied with the Palestinian Authority. So what is our strategy for the next phase? As I mentioned we would like to see Gaza as a model, and this is a great test for the Authority, to see and to show us good governance and to show us that they are effective in fighting terror. If this is the case, and they take full responsibility, then I think we can continue, and move on to discuss other areas, and move on the Roadmap to Peace. What is Israel doing to help them, to achieve this goal? Well, we do two maintwo basictwo main things. First of all helping them economically, and here we have agreed with the Authority, and also with some aid from Egypt, and also from some third party probably from Europe, to open the passage on Rafa, which means that Gaza will be open to the world, without any Israeli presence. That would be through the border with Egypt, and also opening more terminals from Gaza to the West Bank, and to Israel for exports to Europe, through us for, and also through Egypt. For that we are also changing the concept, so far we have this export going on what we call back to back whereby there was a Palestinian truck coming it having to unload because of security reasons, checking to make sure there are no explosives, there are no terrorists, loading Israeli trucks and moving. We are going to move from this system to what we call door to door, where one truck can go through smoothly and in an expeditious manner, and for that we are investing in new terminals with big scanners. You know big scanners that big trucks can go through. Also we are participating in helping the pledges, the economic pledges to go through to the Palestinian Authority. Jimmy Wolf is on the economic envoy and is doing a tremendous job. He secured pledges of up to 10 billion dollars from the industrial countries, the G-8. Three billion dollars a year, for the next three or four years and money is available. It's just a matter of having the infrastructure and inby the Palestinian Authority, to receive it and employ it. I believe that they can start immediately with construction that would serve two purposes. First of all construction means immediate employment, unemployment in Gaza is 40%, and they can work immediately, and also they can house those poor refugees which were kept there in sub-human conditions for more than 50 years into new housing. And of course roads and other infrastructures that can be built immediately and show a real progress to the Palestinians. The second issue that we are working on in helping the Palestinians is try to bolster their security forces, and we did it by allowing them to get all the material that they need, and there is some training which is being done by the Egyptians so we have allowed that, and also the great work of General Ward. And we would like to see the understanding of Sharon; mainly we want to leave the densely populated areas in the West Bank. We don't want to be there. We want to leave the towns. We have started doing that, but as soon as we left the first town which was Tul Karem two major terror attacks came from there. So what we told Abu Mazen is tell us what is your security plan. When you are ready to assume responsibility we're out. But we can not assume any additional risks. So we are waiting on that. We have released prisoners, it seems like a long ago, but it was less than a year since we have released over 1,000 dangerous prisoners as a gesture of Abu Mazen, some of the prisoners went back to terror. And some of them, we know for a fact that they were engaged in some of the terror operations in the last few months. So this is what we are doing. We will continue to build the fence, which is the most, I would say the most effective way to prevent terrorists and suicide bombers from infiltrating into our country, and we will wait to see if the Palestinians are ready to negotiate. As we are hoping '06 will be a year of change, we also look beyond our immediate neighborhood and looking into our northern borders. Syria and Lebanon, I think that the Syrian government and Assad have not failed to really make all possible mistakes, first with manipulating the constitution in Lebanon. To really break the mold, and to keep Lahud the President there for another term, and then killing Hariri, and then keep helping the Hezbollah which is major destabilize in our northern front. Also there is the they are still preventing the full implementation of the UN Security Council 1559, which called not just for the full evacuation of military forces of Syria, but also disbanding these military operations or armed elements, first and foremost the Hezbollah. The Hezbollah is still operating on our northern border, and it can do it only with the great logistic support from Syria and the main political and military support and from ideologically and financial support from Iran. When you think of Iran and Syria, and you look at the problems of the Middle East, namely international terrorism and regional terrorism, and just today in Iman, you heard there were three terror incidents, in three hotels in Iman I did not see the report yet of how many people were injured or hurt, but this is the second time that Jordan has been a target in the past two months. There was on in Acaba two months ago. They are acting in Egypt if you recall Taba and Sharem the hotel incident in of course Israel, and they are destabilizing the whole region. And this the work of Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Syria. So we talked about terrorism. Syria and Iran are also destabilizing the region visa a vis Iraq, allowing these insurgents crossing the border to Iraq from Syria. Syrians say that it is very difficult to guard and seal the border which is very rugged terrain. Well I can tell you they can do it. They have sealed the border with Lebanon; the Golan Heights when it's in their interest, there is no infiltration of terrorism, and most of all it's not just the problem of the border. It's the problem inthey don't need to seal the border. They need just to shut down Damascus Airport to these insurgents. Today we have Jihadist who come from all over the world. They land in Damascus airport. They don't have to show any documents. They take a cab from Damascus and they go all the way to Baghdad, pick up weapons and melt into the population and try to kill as many Iraqis and Americans. They do not understand yet, that this is imperative that they would stop that. As they do not understand yet that they must expel the terror organization headquarters from Damascus. Namely Hamas and Islamic Jihad who keep sending money, who keep sending orders to Palestinian groups and cells to effect terror in Israel. And in Iran, we also have a major issue, which is their nuclear file. Israel is not in the forefront here. It is not just an Israeli problem. It's a regional problem and much beyond, and certainly the international community should take Iran into the task of bring the issue into the Security Council. And we take very seriously what the President, Ahmadinejad said a week ago when he talked about wiping Israel of the map. We take that very seriously, because he is very serious about it. People tell me, well it's really very unfortunate that he said it. And my answer was that better that he said it publicly and not just privately. And by the way it's not the first time he said it. Ali Rajai talked five years ago about wanting Israel bombed. But enough with that many Iranian leaders talked about that, by the way what was overlooked, and I find it quite astonishing that in the same sentence that he talked about wiping of the map Israel, he also talked about wiping off the map the United States. Nobody paid attention to that, as also he talked about fighting moderate Islamic and Arab regimes, so if we look into the bigger picture in the Middle East I think we will see, after the disengagement, I think we will see kind of a schism. We will see some moderate Arab countries that will try, like Egypt, like Jordan, there are some gulf countries that are trying to be more forthcoming and have better and closer relations with us. We see some Muslim countries that were mentioned in the press, which I am not going to repeat, that are also trying to send some messages of encouragement to us. And on the other hand we see the extremists. Mainly in Damascus and in Tehran, who are not changing the ways, on the contrary they are stepping up their operations. In order to scuttle, and in order to really sabotage any movement forward any peace processes, continued with intimidations and very venomous rhetorics. And of course with Iran relentlessly trying and continue cheat and try to achieve a nuclear program which would be a mortal danger as I mentioned to the entire Middle East, and much beyond. As they also develop delivery systems which can reach now Europe, and they are working on new phase of intercontinental ballistic systems, which ultimately would be able to reach the continental shores of the eastern United States. So this is the picture and I hope that the international community will really muster all its energies to really isolate those extreme elements. Both Damascus and Tehran, and I think today in the United Nations, and also in the Security Councils we have a window, we have a moment of grace, where things can be done in an almost near consensus, and this is very important. With a united front of the Western World, then rouge regime, like Assan's or in Tehran they understand the message. I believe that---and this is going to be my last remark---that the Iraqi war could have been averted had there been a unified message from the entire world community to Hussein. But we know now from intelligence, only twelve hours before the attack Saddam Hussein believed that he would be saved by those who opposed the attack in the Western World. So as you see there are great challenges ahead, but also many opportunities. I think that the disengament which was really a very bold and courageous move by Prime Minister Sharon. He took physical risks here. He took major political risks, but I believe that he overcame them. I hope that our elections, which will take place on November 6th will in time, and not be advanced, because there is a great workthere is a great deal of work to do, and we are ready to do it. I want to thank you all for coming and for listening, and if there are any questions, I will be happy to try and answer them, although if you don't have any questions I'll be fine too. So thank you very much. Fortunately for us Mr. Ambassador, there are numerous questions, so we will start in. What is Israel's position on the UN investigation regarding the assassination of Harari in Lebanon? Well we support it very much. I think that it is unheard of in this day and age that we would have a government interfering in other countries matters and also sending hired assassins to do it. We knew, right from the very beginning that we had the Syrian fingerprints all over the assassination of Hariri. It couldn't have been done without the Syrian's and help from the Lebanese security forces. You know for all practical purposes, Lebanon is a satellite of Syria still although all the armed forces of Syria is out, but intelligence is still there in a very intensive and messy way, and all political or most of the politicians in Lebanon are answerable to Damascus. So I think it was another testament of maybe a better effectiveness, an new era of better effectiveness in the international community, especially in the United Nations council, and I think that Datluf Marus is a professional, he is on the strait and narrow and I think that he is doing a very thorough and a very good job. And I believe December 15th when the full report will be presented, it will be now for the politicians to really rise up to the challenge, and to demand many questions to Syria from the Security Council, and I think it is high time to take it not just not the limited scope of the assassination itself, but also for have a Syria change its behavior visa a vis Iraq, visa a vis the Palestinians and the terror in Israel, and visa a vis the Hezbollah. Do you think the current rioting in France and elsewhere in Europe, will have consequences for European Jews and Israel? Well that's very interesting. I can tell you that we have noticed in Israel, quite a---I wouldn't say dramatic---but quite a move from the Jewish community in France. The Jewish community in France is the second largest in the world, after the United States. There are about five to six hundred thousand. I don't have the exact numbers, but somewhere in between, and we have seen in the last three or four years, we have seen many of them come to Israel, buy property there, send their kids for school there, for longer and for more frequent times. I think that people there are scared of what's happening. And certainly what we have seen in the last few days in France is not going to ameliorate their feelings, so the short answer is yes. I believe that many of them will seize this moment and come to Israel where they can be assured safety. How can Israel remain a Jewish state in the strict sense, if non-Jews become a majority of the population? What if any alternatives with structure might be necessary? Well, you know we are very proud to be a Jewish State, and also a Democratic State. And we have now about, almost seven million, out of which about 80 % are Jews, about 18 % are Muslims, 2 % are othersChristians. And we are very proud of everybody having the same rights, having equal opportunities and working together. I don't think that there is a demographic problem in Israel itself. The problem is the Palestinians in the West bank. Now that we left Gaza, I think 1.2 million Palestinians are no longer under our responsibility, and eventually and when we come to the real final settlement, the final state of agreement. We do not intend to keep the Palestinian population in the West Bank, and as we see the vision of two states solutions, we would like to see a complete political separation and I believe with this political separation, that we started already in Gaza and in the West Bank, it will assure that let's say characteristics and nature of the state will remain the same. Also we count on continued immigration. I believe that this is on the of the creation of, I would say the recreation of the Jewish State, back in our homeland, in our ancient homeland was to really bring refuge to all the broken souls and bodies from the Holocaust, from persecution of two millennia. And there's still anti-Semitism Europe, in the former Soviet Union Republics, in Russia itself. We are encouraged that the governments by and large oppose and fight it, but still there is anti-Semitism, and we also continue to rely on immigration of the Jewish people to Israel I believe like Swedes live in Sweden, and France, and the French in France and the British in England and Jews should live in Israel. We have several questions on Saudi Arabia, and I'll try to combine them into one. Are you encouraged, or discouraged with internal and external developments in Saudi Arabia, since the new King has taken the throne? And would you comment on the role of Saudi Arabia in fostering or encouraging terrorism as well as anti-Israeli activities? Well we have not seen much change since King Abdullah has taken the throne. In fact he was the defacto ruler for the last ten years since King Fallah had illnesses and he was not coherent, and he was not really in control, so we have seen much change. We do see a continued flow of funds--- not from the Saudi government, but from Saudi charities and organizations---to terrorists, and this is something which I think can be much more forcefully enforced by the government over there. Other than that Saudi Arabia is an enigma, at least for me. Saudi Arabia is a very closed society, you can't really understand what goes on in there, I mean except that Al Queda was very active there, and except that they paid a lot of money to the extremist Salafist or demcadize the schools to teach very extreme Islam. They are financing these madtas also in whether it's in Pakistan or Uzbekistan orand then they still do that. And what I would really expect Saudi Arabia, since it's in its best interest, to help the Palestinian peace process to develop, to have a peaceful dialogue, to help the Palestinians. Now with this windfall of oil revenues that they have, and I believe that the last estimate that I saw that this year that they are going to reap about 285 billion dollars from oil. That's opposed to 70 billion of last year. So with all this money, if they can make good on their pledge and promises they can revamp and change the economy of the Palestinians overnight. We have not seen a penny yet going from Saudi Arabia to the Palestinian Authority, and I think they have responsibility there, not just a moral one, but a political one. And I think this is in their best interest, and this is what we would like to see. Help the Palestinian economy, help and encourage the moderates in the Arab world. There is a lot that they can see, and they have great, great influence you know 280 billion dollar, many good arguments that they can use against those extremists. This listener would like to asks, "Is the Gaza withdrawal the first step or the last? What do you think will happen next with the Palestinian territories?" Well it's, it's a unique step. It's certainly not the last step, but now before we move forward, we would like see the Palestinians move ahead. And as I mentioned it was very, very painful, excruciatingly so for us. I think that also the Palestinians will have to come to grips with reality and also respond, as I mentioned, in kind. And basically all we expect from them is something which is in their own interest, their own good: is good governance, reforms and fighting terror. And then, we can start negotiating. I would say that Gaza was last in the sense of a unilateral move, ifyou can interpret in one way as like a down payment that we made. We are not going to go again, and do more down payments. Now it's up the Palestinians, either to make their own down payment in fighting terror and reforming, or at least negotiate with us together, and to come and try to and resume the Road Map to Peace. So again here, the short answer here, what is next? Is the implementation of the Roadmap, and it has to be adhered to I would say a very scrupulous way, because we have had too many experiences in the past. And we have example of the defunct or the failed Oslo process where there was lack of accountability, lack of responsibility, everything crumbled. Unlike the Oslo we have the Roadmap which is not bound by rigid, rigid timeline, or time table but progress according to development on the ground, so we have to make these developments together, with the Palestinians. We are ready to do that. What percentage of Israel's revenues come from tourism, and how has that fluctuated throughout the past ten years? How has terrorism affected this? Well I would say that during five years of this ongoing terror, and the Intifada and as you recall we have sustained sometimes two or three suicide bombings a day, tourists just didn't arrive. We had a drop. We had in the millennium year, in 2000 we had a better year of tourism about 2 million or more tourists that came. It was a record year, and it fell sharply in the following years until last year it fell by 60-65 percent, which was a major blow to our economy, and not only that but together with the slump in the global economy and basically in the high tech markets, and terror itself which cost a lot of money, we lost about twelve percent of the GDP over three years, which was terrible because GDP per capita just decreased. But the last two years have been very good. First of all we went up on the learning curve, and we became much more effective in countering and preventing terror. We have reached a phenomenal rate by our security and military forces of 95 percent of prevention rate. But this was not enough. It was the resilience of the population. The Israeli people who were not, you know whose spirit was not broken. You know terror is designed not just to kill life and terrorize, it also designs to wreak havoc on the economy, to paralyze the country, and to really melt the structure and the institutions. And I am very proud as an Israeli, that the Israelis responded by keeping their routine. The fact that the Israelis kept their kids in school, knowing full well that the busses were a first choice of attack of the terrorists, they kept showing up at work, they kept the country going. I think this is a true lesson of how a country should cope with terrorism. We did not see this in other countries. I do not want to mention some countries in Europe that did not act in the same way, and I think that this is encouraging terrorism. So we lost a lot of resources especially in tourism, but now we have become very effective against terror. Now with the disengagement, now that the atmosphere is much better, and the leadership, I think, of the government, and I think that Prime Minister Sharon. We also were very busy with restructuring our economy basically deregulating it, changing the tax codes, privatizing that also gave a boost to the economy, and we are now on the third year of real growth of 4.4 percent. The tourists are back, still not to the level of 2000, but almost, and although it's a very import source of revenue. . I think out of our GDP maybe---David, maybe you can help me, maybe 4-5 percent is tourism, and most of it our exports and basically intellectual property and hi tech. This is our main source of income. So what I would say, 4-5 percent is from tourism. Israel has constructed a long fence to help keep our suicide bombers. The US congress is studying a similar fence on our Mexican border. How effective is your fence, and what suggestions would you have for the US?