Excerpts from Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren:
“What is extraordinary, I believe, is that in spite of all this upheaval and violence and trauma, that a significant majority of Israelis still support a two-state solution… So that is the nature of my optimism and I hope I can persuade you this evening, both of the seriousness of the Israeli perspective but also of the no less serious chances for peace that we all can still benefit from.”
“We look forward to a time where there will be a comprehensive peace. We have always viewed the relationship with the Palestinians, not as only as an end in itself but as a means to a broader peace with all states in the Middle East.”
S. Daniel Abraham : (Chairman, S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace)
With that, I consider it a personal privilege to introduce Michael Oren, the Israeli Ambassador to the US. I know from the perspective of, having the privilege of, serving on Capitol Hill that there are few ambassadors in this city, of which there are of course many able statesmen and stateswomen that enjoy both the reputation and the degree of respect that Michael enjoys on Capitol Hill. And the reason for this is not only that there is of course extraordinary support in congress for the American-Israeli relationship, but it also is a direct result of Michael’s individual intellect but more importantly his willingness to engage in what are often contentious issues and to do it from a position of 100% integrity. And while people may agree or disagree or somewhere in between, I have never been witness to any situation in which anyone has ever left a conversation with Michael not appreciating the degree of sincerity and preparation that he has exhibited. And he does an extraordinary job of being an advocate for his government, which is the job that he proudly experiences, but even more so, brings to his job a degree of enthusiasm and pride that will become readily apparent to you throughout the evening. Our hope is that Ambassador Oren will open the evening with introductory remarks 10-15 minutes or whatever he deems to be appropriate, and then at that point my rather extraordinary colleague Toni Verstandig will take over the evening and we would encourage an informal discussion, ask what you wish, nothing is censored nothing is planned, and lets engage in a conversation.
I don’t pretend to be able to give the American perspective on everything that has happened, is happening in the peace process, or not happening in the peace process. I don’t pretend to give the Arab League perspective or certainly the Palestinian perspective, though I try my utmost to gain those gain perspectives, but what I think I can give you tonight is an Israeli perspective on where we stand.
And to understand that perspective you need to understand that first of all Israel, and Israelis, have been through a great deal over the course of the last decade, since 2000, certainly. We’ve had two, what we believe to be, sincere offers to the Palestinian leadership for statehood, and have had both of those offers rejected, first by Yasser Arafat and then by Abu Mazen. We have had in essence three wars. The Second Intifada, which brought conflict back to our cities which it had not been in a large scale since the 1948 conflict and cost 1000 Israelis dead, many thousands wounded, which included close friends, family members of everyone – everyone was touched by the second intifada. The Lebanon War of 2006 which brought all of Northern Israel under rocket fire. The Gaza confrontation of 2008, beginning of 2009, which brought all of Southern Israel under rocket fire. The emergence of an exceedingly aggressive Iran actively pursuing nuclear military capabilities, becoming the proxy behind Hamas and Hezbollah. The withdrawal from Lebanon first and the withdrawal from Gaza in both cases undertaken in the Israeli perception to generate conditions which we hoped would be more conducive to peace and not bringing about peace but rather bring about the opposite of peace. The overthrow of the Al-Fatah authority in Gaza, the takeover by Hamas. All of this is one long succession of traumas for the Israeli people.
What is extraordinary, I believe, is that in spite of all this upheaval and violence and trauma, that a significant majority of Israelis still support a two-state solution. In fact I would go so far as to say that had Yassar Araft or Abu Mazen accepted those two deals, even amidst the violence, a large segment of the Israeli population would have supported those arrangements. A large segment of the Israeli population continues to support the two-state solution, which is revolutionary in Israeli thought in and of itself because for most of Israel’s existence the notion of a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel was thought of as an existential threat to Israel, was posing an existential threat to Israel. And certainly since the Second Intafada, that notion has been flipped on its head. Now, the creation of a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel is perceived not as an existential threat but as the arrangement that will best guarantee Israel’s survival. Think about that, what a revolution that is in Israeli thinking. That’s the good news. The less-than-good news is that as a result of all these disappointments and setbacks in violence, many Israelis, a significant majority, almost the same majority that supports a two-state solution, is skeptical about the ability to achieve that solution; skeptical of the Palestinian leaderships willingness to step up and make that historical peace; skeptical of the willingness of the Palestinian people specifically, and of the broader Arab world to accept a permanent and Jewish state in the Middle East; skeptical about an end of violence.
To understand what has occurred certainly in the last year and a half since Ive been on watch during the course of the tenure of the Netanyahu government is an attempt by Israeli leaders and by the Prime Minister in particular to grapple and keep a pace of these [unintelligible] and often conflicting trends within Israeli society: support for the two-state solution and skepticism about it. For that reason, the Prime Minister was very cautious in moving towards his public espousal of the two-state solution – as the head of the Likud that was a major move for him – the Bar Ilan speech in 2009, but he attached caveats, not preconditions, but caveats to his acceptance of the two-state solution – that was that the future Palestinian state would have to be demilitarized and would have to recognize Israel in a reciprocal manner as the nation-state of the Jewish people, just as Israel would recognize the Palestinian state as the nation-state of the Palestinian people. That was not a tactical maneuver, it was very substantive, that was designed to put an end to all further claims and to end the conflict once and for all.
The Prime Minister issued last November the 10-month moratorium – again for the head of the Likud party, for the head of a government whose general political orientation is Center/Center-Right, that was an extraordinary move. It was a move that was, as Secretary of State Clinton said, “unprecedented.” No other Israeli Prime minister going back to Golda Meir, had ever attempted such a thing, and it was launched in an attempt as a gesture to the United States, but also as an attempt to induce and incentivize Palestinian leadership to return to direct talks. Again, from an Israeli perspective, the Palestinians did not avail themselves of that opportunity until very very late in the game – about 8.5-9 months down and by the time the talks did commence, and we got off to a very good start, it wasnt just optics, they were constructive, friendly, and promising talks that occurred in Washington about six weeks ago, and we were already confronting a situation in which the moratorium was winding down and the chances that the Palestinians would not be able to return to the table, whether the Arab League would endorse them.
Most importantly though, which I’m sure you’re going to have questions about this. About three days ago the Prime Minister came out with a statement in Knesset saying, that if the Palestinian leadership would recognize Israel as the Jewish state he would be willing to go back to the government and try to convince his cabinet members to try and extend the moratorium to a certain length. The Prime Minister is facing a situation in which 27 out of his 30 ministers oppose extending the moratorium in its current configuration. 80% of the Israeli public opposes extending the moratorium in its current configuration – think about 80% of Americans ever agreeing on something, it’s quite a high percentage – and it is an immense hurdle for the Prime Minister to overcome. There is also the matter of his word: having given his word on the ten months. And that word will be an important equity, an asset, not only for the people of Israel but for the Palestinians and for the United States as well. At the end of that year long process, and I understand [youre responsible] for that year long process. [Unintelligible.]
And the end of that year, he is going to have to be able to go to the people of Israel and say to them, “We are going to have to make excruciating sacrifices from areas that have been guarded by our people for the last 3,000 years as sacred, as our sacred patrimony. We are going to have to take immense risks in view of what had happened in Gaza, what has happened in Lebanon, we are going to create a Palestinian state that is going to be directly opposite our major population industrial areas, but, you can trust me. I’m going to give you my word that this is the best way to go.” And if we are already impugning his word at the beginning of the process, then that word is going to be worth much less at the end of the process. So this is definitely an asset that should not be treated cavalierly.
I won’t dissemble the fact, I don’t think I could dissemble the fact, that we are at an impasse tonight. We are each in our own corner – the Palestinians, the Israelis, the Arab League, I think the administration also – and we’re looking for the right bell that will get us out of these corners and get us to the middle but not swinging, talking. And I would be misleading you to indicate in any way that I have the magic formula, that anybody has the magic formula for this. I can only assure you, again, that this government and the Prime Minister are deeply and unequivocally committed to this process. When he said a year, he meant it. I told you the story, when we got back into his car, one of his advisors said do you realize you just said a year? And he said yes, I said a year because I meant it. And he sticks by it. And he is committed to getting into that room with the Palestinian president and concluding this historic deal.
To do that, we understand that there are difficulties all around, but please understand that the Prime Minister and his government face political constraints which are at times gargantuan and not the least of which is this skepticism, and I think today from an Israeli perspective it is the greatest obstacle we face – this Israeli skepticism. Because if you look around, rarely can we look back and find a situation, which objectively speaking, is so conducive to peace. We have a strong, deep, and widely representative stable Israeli government. We have excellent economic conditions in the West Bank and continuing to improve. We have security, we have law and order, in the West Bank such as we have not know for a very long time. We have a Palestinian leadership that is committed to a two-state solution. There is the Arab Peace Initiative, there is an Obama administration which is acutely focused on the peace process and committed to the two-state solution. And for the first time in the last 62 years the vast majority of Arab states view another nation, and not Israeli, as their principle concern.
I remain optimistic. Not Pollyannaish, but optimistic. I believe that the momentum here towards peace, while if not irreversible, if not [unintelligible] is still considerable. And that once these two leaders do get in a room they can find themselves going places that they never previously imagined. Again, we know from history that Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadaat got in a room, they entered a peace process that had its own momentum, and they found themselves going where they thought they would go before; and in a very relatively swift time. So that is the nature of my optimism and I hope I can persuade you this evening, both of the seriousness of the Israeli perspective but also of the no less serious chances for peace that we all can still benefit from.
So let me offer take the prerogative of the chair before we begin, as Robert and Danny both said will be an informal dinner conversation which we can hopefully begin to understand one another. So, I’m interested to hear your thoughts – you did touch on the Arab Peace Initiative. Robert and I just returned from Abu Dhabi and I was struck by both the newness of thinking – the [unintelligible] that is there, across the board, in terms of what theyre doing on innovation and their own society. But their angst about the future. And the future as you well pointed out the existential threat posed by Iran is shared not only the perception by Israel but others in the Gulf.
But I’m also interested to know your thoughts as you look at peace making, you spend a lot of time talking about the Israeli/Palestinian track. Can Israel – because time, I think there are a number of clocks that are ticking. There is the technological clock in terms of – as I just said Iran – the introduction of sophisticated weapons in both Gaza and also in Lebanon. There is a demographic clock, as it relates most particularly to the Palestinians. There is a biological clock and that clock – as my distinguished friend [Ziad Asali] and Ill have him put his medical hat on knows all too well won’t be stopped. There are many leaders in the region who are aging. And we have seen the tragedy of great peace makers, both Yitzak Rabin and King Hussein, when they are no longer on the scene. And the impact that that had. And so, there is our own political clock. You talked about Israel’s politics but we obviously have our own politics. So I’m interested to know do you think that its time – when you to talk about end of conflict – can Israel achieve a true comprehensive peace, engage on a Syria track? And what are the circumstances that you would see that complimentary the two tracks?
I might suggest that what I have in mind here is that we cannot see the hopes of the Palestinians continue eroding and their life situation deteriorating as it is if we are to sustain this. There has to be an improvement. There has to be a steady improvement in the day to day life of the Palestinian people. And of course you referred to the economic situation and the security situation which is a wonderful thing and more of this needs to continue. We are concerned. Concerned about the impact of the negations, the lack of progress in negotiations, progress that has been made that you refer to, needs to be shielded. So there has to be some kind of an effort during this transition that is less lofty than the strategic achievement of a state in one year or so. But that covers the transition. I wonder if you have any thoughts about that.
The government has tried to the degree that it can to limit the impact – knowing the sensitivity of the settlement issue for the Palestinians, to limit that impact. It has undertaken not to build any additional settlements, not to appropriate any territory for outward expansion of settlements, not to incentivize Israelis to move to the settlements – I got to catch a breath here – not to have any construction. This is after the moratorium that any construction would be limited, restrained, and responsible and would not impact the peace map – that is a quote unquote. And not impact the peace map. I think you understand what we mean when we say that. And would not exceed levels of construction that occurred during previous rounds of Israeli-Palestinian rounds of negotiations such as the Abu Mazen and Olmert negotiations in 2008 – that is going very very far for this government. And to think for any Israeli government. And hopefully that would take this settlement issue and put it into a certain context.
We have issues that we know are final status issues for the Palestinians. And we dont want to put them upfront either. And knowing that the only way to get through this process is to start dealing with the issues that we can deal with now. Because I fully agree with you. There has been substantive progress made on the ground and we are liable to lose that progress. We are likely to lose that bottom up progress unless we get a top down horizon. And we are aware of this. And we see very much eye to eye on that.
In addition to removing final status issues from the front of the table, I think its very important that the negotiations be held away from the public eye far from the media. I had the privilege and pure of fun of accompanying President Peres a few weeks ago to New York and he addressed this issue several times. I think you heard him Toni, and you were there too Robert when he talked about this. “There are two things you should never do in front of the camera: romance and peace negotiations in the Middle East.” Quote Shimon Peres. And I think that this sentiment is taken. The swifter we get away from public scrutiny of everything these leaders are doing. They will have more latitude to be able to address these issues and then move onto the substantive issues as we go. But see, I fully agree with you that we are liable to lose the bottom up progress unless we get the top down going.
: (President, Fahmy Hudome International)
And so why I would wager – and I have no scientific empirical basis for saying this – but Israelis are generally not aware of what is in the Arab Peace Initiative. But they are aware that the Arab world is not taking any steps, even symbolic steps towards normalization. And those steps would have immense impact on Israeli public opinion. That we all agree on. And if the Saudis were tomorrow to either host a peace conference or to allow our planes to head East that would have immediate resonance in the Israeli public opinion. And it would greatly reduce – and Im saying this without the scientific knowledge, but a deep sense of that this would be the case – that would greatly reduce some of the skepticism.
And going back to the duality between Israel’s security interest and the need for Palestinian pride, it’s a sense of – whats the word you used – dignity, much better word than pride. We are aware of the need to address the need for dignity. And we have to strive to make to the best degree possible consonant with our need for security. And to understand that making those two interests dovetail, may take time, way be a stage process, and cannot be addressed by signing a piece of paper.
: (Founder, Foundation for Ethnic Understanding)
The question Michael that you made reference to the Israeli public being skeptical about the sincerity of the Palestinian government and the Palestinian public. To cut to the chase, my experience, what Im sensing, less so in the U.S. but around the world, that Muslims and Jews don’t trust one another. In fact, I’m now writing a book with Imam, a head Imam of New York, Imam Shamsi Ali, the title of our book is “Can We Trust the Other?” So to try to combat this lack of trust, we have engaged in an international campaign of twining mosques and synagogues and to literally bring this lack of trust to the people and to build these bridges of understanding and caring. My question to you is what is being done in Israel – lets put the Palestinian leadership aside. What is being done in Israel people to people in terms of trying to foster a kind of trust so when we do realize peace between Israel and the PA that the people themselves, the masses will element and that sense of comfort in terms of dealing with Jews and their brethren?
And then came Sept. 2000, and the cultural/religious barriers that we had confronted previously when then now compounded manifoldly by physical barriers. Israelis could not travel into the territories. It was actually an act of law. If they were traveling in the territories, they could be killed. Conversely, Palestinian labor stopped coming into the state of Israel. So we had a generation that was growing up in the late ’90s, early part of the century of young people who had never encountered one another except through violent circumstances. Young Palestinians in Gaza, some Palestinians in the West Bank have never seen an Israeli other than an Israeli soldier. And Israelis who have never really seen a West Bank Palestinians or Gaza Palestinians expect as people who were being arrested, suicide bombers who were blowing up.
Now, the situation is improving. Slowly but substantively. There are now circumstances where Israelis can travel into the territories. Recently, there was the first delegation of tour organizers into Bethlehem, and they spent the day in Bethlehem which is quite an extraordinary feat. Jenin has been opening up. Jenin shopping areas have been reopened to a certain extent for Israeli shoppers and on a personal level I am always encountering Israelis who travelled to Ramallah and come back wowed by Ramallah. And we have, this is not the Ramallah I remember. Its beginning but its beginning slowly. And its important that we proceed cautiously.
In addition to the undertakings, we talked about earlier vis-a-vis the settlements the government of Israel has taken far reaching measures to ease the burden of transportation and communication. Particularly in the West Bank by removing hundreds of check points and road blocks. And it’s a risk. Every road block you pick up and every check point you do away with, the next day there is a terrorist attack there and then youve gone one step forward and five steps back. And it was quite a challenge for the Prime Minister because the day he arrived here for direct peace talks, there were four Israelis who were killed back home where a roadblock had just been removed. It was very difficult for the Prime Minister not to restore that roadblock. To the best of my knowledge, he did not. And so I think its in the interest of both sides. Yes, I believe its important we pursue the people to people, as an integral part of the bottom up process. On the other hand, I think we have a mutual interest in proceeding cautiously and assuring as we do reengage that we do not enhance the chances for violence.
And Hezbollah has now quadrupled under the auspices of 1701, quadrupled the number of missiles in its arsenals. In 2006, it had about 12,000. It has more than 45,000 today. These missiles are now of longer range. They can hit every city in the state of Israel including Eilat. They are much bigger pay loads. They are much more accurate. Accurate to four yards. These are not the rockets that were fired willy nilly at Haifa in 2006. A very different situation and we feel that at least 15,000 of these rockets are south of Litani. They have been deployed within villages. Villages that become basically fortified strongholds and in the north particularly. Having internalized the findings for the Goldstone report, Hezbollah has placed many missiles under homes, hospitals, and schools, knowing that if we try to defend ourselves against these missiles, we will once again be changed with war crimes. Its a very grievous situation for us. Its a strategic threat to the state of Israel. And our ability to observe Hezbollah has been instrumental in persuading other countries including this government of the dire natural of the Hezbollah threat. That’s very crucial for us.
As for the village of Ghajar. For those of you unfamiliar with this, it occupies a tremendous amount of our time. Rarely does a cable relating to this Ghajar issue not come across my desk. It is a village that was divided. Half of it in Lebanon, half of it in Israel. It is mostly an Alawite village. But most of the inhabitants were keen on becoming Israeli citizens. And they become Israeli citizens. And yes it is true 1701 calls for the return of the Ghajar territory, as citizens of the state of Israel these people have rights. And we have worked out with UNIFIL the arrangements for a deployment there. In Ghajar, and I have members of my staff who are more updated on this than I am, but generally speaking we have worked out our differences with UNIFIL and so our problem – and if you can call it a problem – is the fact that Israel is a democracy. And that the inhabitants of the city have appealed to the Supreme Court. And basically have said that the state of Israel has no right to sign a treaty that would forfeit their citizenship and transfer them to the sovereignty of another state. And that’s where its stuck. It’s stuck in the Israeli legal system. As you know its a very robust and activist system, and so I can only assure you its not from want of trying but the problem there is democracy. The problem, in italics.
By the way when I say, the government is not incentivizing Israelis to the settlements, it doesnt mean that its ignoring the natural life needs of the hundreds of thousands of our citizens who live there. And they have natural life needs. If they need to build a school – they will build a school. That’s the government positions.
Let me go back to your earlier part about recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. Israel is not a theocracy. Israel is a Jewish state in a national sense. It is the nation state of the Jewish people. The way Bulgaria is the nation state of the Bulgarian people. Germany is the nation state of the German people. The United States does not happen to be a nation state, so it doesn’t fit that paradigm. But most nations in the world are nations states – Israel’s one of them. And when we asked the Palestinians to recognize us, as the nation state of the Jewish people, it means many things. First of all, most fundamentally, it means we are here to stay, that the Jews are indigenous to the Middle East. That they have a 3,000 year history there and that the two state solution is going to be a two state solution and not an interim solution to something else a one state solution. Or as Ehud Barak is fond of saying, a two state solution will not be a two stage solution, with the next stage of Israels dissolution. Thats what recognizing a Jewish state means.
We also understand that here is a final status issue, a classic one that recognizing Israel as a Jewish state means that Palestinian refugees will not be resettled there. They will be resettled in the Palestinian state and not in the Jewish state or in any other state but not in the Jewish state. The demographic integrity of Israel will be preserved. Recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, is not a tactical issue for us. It is the most fundamental issue for us. Its the absolute core of the conflict. Its what created the conflict to begin with.
There is security in the fact that settlements act as an area where Israeli military forces can be situated for intelligence gathering it has been important for our security. Look what happened in Gaza, we pulled the settlements out of Gaza and look how our security went downhill very very quickly. So, therefore, in addressing the territorial issue, besides the deep sentimental connection we have to this land, settlements per say are a sub-category of borders and a sub-category of security particularly if you address the security needs of the State of Israel our ability to show flexibility on other issues will be greatly enhanced.
: (President, AMIDEAST)
How much does the Israeli public know about suffering on the other (non-Jewish) side?
As for being aware of the suffering on the other side, I think that that awareness was particularly brought home by the First Intifada. The First Intifada in many ways convinced many Israelis that, first of all brought the issue for what it meant for West Bank Palestinians to be under Israeli control, what that meant to them and what that experience was, and the political consequences of the First Intifada in Israel were profound because a direct link between the First Intifada and the Oslo process, they were still engaged in the Oslo process, and that the status quo was not sustainable. And that same shift from viewing that Palestinian state as the ultimate existential threat to being the existential salvation, if you would, took place during that period as a result of that awareness.
During the Second Intifada the Israelis were less aware because we were so focused on our own suffering, it was very difficult to think about what was going on down the road, in many cases it was literally down the road when you yourself are under fire – very difficult, thats the human trait. But since then Israel has given birth to a great number of human rights and civil rights groups, watch groups, which are very very active and very very focused on the Palestinian condition and not so much on the Israeli condition, or less so on the Israeli condition. Its a factor. It’s a factor in our politics and in our policy making.
: (Chairman, S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace)
So I would like to start to move our discussion, because we are all people of good will, we’re all friends, we’re not enemies, nor are the Israelis and Arabs enemies, we’re all people of good will. We want to live in peace, we want to raise our families and our children in a world of peace and development and employment. We have one of the greatest areas in the world in the Middle East. It was in the past the center of civilization. And it certainly has a role to play today to bring this world to a better place, but we must resolve the question of the Arab-Israeli, Israeli-Arab conflict – the whole spectrum: the Lebanese, the Syrians, and the Palestinians. We must get to an end of this conflict. I think we all know what the end is going to be: ’67 borders with modifications and 1:1 swaps; security for Israel; a divided Jerusalem as capital for both states; the Holy Basin as some type of civilized city, which is at peace and open to all peoples to pray freely without conflict. We know what the end is going to be, so why cant we bring it to the end now?
[Paraphrase] – I dont want Israel to be a Jewish state because I am secular just as I dont want Palestine to be a Muslim state and America to be a Christian state.
We have to deal with all sorts of challenges on both sides. All I can tell you is I dont share your pessimism, but having said that, with my guarded optimism, I know that the situation looks differently from here where were six to seven thousand miles away than it does there.
And to say that there should be no [settlement] building whatsoever, is first of all, for a Jewish state, which is built on what it regards as sacred Jewish territory, to tell Jews that they can’t live there or build there, no Israeli government, right, left or center, could ever do that – not Yitzchak Rabin, not Tzipi Livni, not Ehud Barak. And that this Israeli government has said that there will not be any outward expansion of settlements, that it won’t impact the peace map, that this should not be the issue that prevents us from negotiating, and if we can negotiate then we can start moving towards some aspects of Dannys vision – I think that’s a very sound and fair policy. The demand for cessation of construction as a precondition is a new Palestinian demand that was not made in previous rounds of negotiations. I share your frustration that we are not moving forward, but I stick with that optimism that if we can get over this hurdle and beyond this impasse, and Lord knows this is not the first impasse in this process, then we can move forward, because as I mentioned earlier, objectively, circumstances surrounding these negotiations will be more conducive than any time in the past.
Now having said that, this government takes a position that to the best of my knowledge, no Israeli government has taken before. It says, as every Israeli government has said since Levi Eshkol, that Jerusalem will remain the undivided capital of the State of Israel. But this government says that we understand the Palestinians have a different position, we understand that the Palestinians are going to bring that position to the negotiating table, and were willing to discuss it. And this governments position on Jerusalem cannot be tested unless we actually sit at the table, and again, we could all find lots of reasons not to sit at that table.
Right now, Palestinian sensitivity to the limited amount of construction going on in the settlements, or in Sheikh Jerah, or what’s happening in Silwaan, and when I first moved to Jerusalem there were Jews in Silwaan, and now none of those original Jewish inhabitants remain. They were all, in one way or another, forced to leave. There is no way we can get there if each of our sides just keeps putting out pre-conditions. Almost
ad nauseum we have talked about this year framework because the Prime Minister is serious about it, but that can’t be tested either, unless the Palestinians join him at the table. I understand your perspective, but we have ours as well. And I think the way to move forward is to sit and talk.