- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 14, 2003

JERUSALEM — Pentagon adviser Richard Perle yesterday denounced an unofficial peace plan negotiated between Israeli opposition leaders and moderate Palestinians, saying it would damage Israel’s security, undermine its government and “would be illegal in the United States.”

He added: “In a democracy we elect people to represent us and [opposition groups negotiating with external opponents of the state] seems to me fundamentally undemocratic.”

The pact would commit both sides to renounce any new claims for territory and would replace all previous U.N. resolutions. It foresees the creation of a Palestinian state conforming to the boundaries of the Palestinian territories before the start of the Israeli occupation in 1967, with some modifications.

Mr. Perle was speaking to reporters and delegates at the inaugural “Jerusalem Summit,” a gathering of Israelis and mainly American Jewish and Christian analysts and politicians opposed to conceding a Palestinian state.

Mr. Perle, who was honored at the event, commended Israel for striking last week at a Palestinian camp inside Syria in response to a suicide bombing of a cafe in Haifa that killed 20 persons.

The attack, he said, was an appropriate application of a doctrine originated by President Bush that calls for striking not only at terrorists but at any country that harbors or protects them.

“I am happy to see the message was delivered to Syria by the Israeli air force, and I hope it is the first of many such messages,” Mr. Perle said to applause.

Mr. Perle, who recently resigned as chairman of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board but remains on the panel, also suggested that the United States could provide increased support for students protesting the rule of Iran’s hard-line clerics, but offered no details.

Addressing the Israeli-Palestinian impasse, Mr. Perle said achieving a Palestinian state “may take a long time,” and suggested that negotiations with the Palestinians are a fruitless exercise under present circumstances.

“Negotiations before the Palestinians have democracy will fail,” he said, calling for a “change in fundamental values” among the Palestinians rather than “the concoction of formulas.”

He said an opposition agreement with Palestinian representatives continued a fundamental problem with Israeli-Palestinian negotiations so far — “arranging the surface issues without going below the surface.”

Rather than offering to share Jerusalem and hand the Palestinians a demilitarized state, any discussions should have focused on getting the Palestinians to “address the practice of teaching Palestinian children to hate Israelis,” he said.