In an interview broadcast yesterday, George Stephanopoulos asked Mahmoud Ahmadinejad if he would support a peace agreement signed between Israel and the Palestinians. Ahmadinejad answered, "Whatever decision they take is fine with us. We are not going to determine anything. Whatever decision they take, we will support that. We think that is the right of the Palestinian people, however we fully expect other states to do so as well."
The Israel Policy Forum's M.J. Rosenberg responded to this by writing, "This is a huge story. Kudos to George and ABC."
Well, kudos to George and ABC for getting the interview, but Ahmadinejad isn't really saying anything new. Last September, when David Bradley, the Atlantic's chairman, James Bennet, the magazine's editor, and I went to New York to interview Ahmadinejad with a small group of journalists (all a tin-pot dictator has to do to get attention from the American media is to deny the Holocaust), James asked him almost the exact same question. Here was Ahmadinejad's response: "If the people of Palestine make a decision, everyone must abide by that decision. What we say about Palestine is very clear: we say let the Palestinian nation determine its own fate, without anyone interfering."
In 2007, Ahmadinejad told Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes, "The decision rests with the Palestinian people. This is exactly what I'm saying." Pelley asked him, "And if that decision is a two-state solution, you're good with that? You could support a two-state solution?" His response: "Well, why are you prejudging what will happen? Let's pave the ground first for a free and fair choice. And once they make their choice, we must respect that. All the people, all the Palestinian people must be given this opportunity, allow them to make their own decisions."
Ahmadinejad's consistent position is that the state of Israel is an illegitimate state, and his policy has been to support terrorist organizations that seek its destruction. This isn't so hard to see. Unless you're the Israel Policy Forum's M.J. Rosenberg, who gives the benefit of the doubt to Iranian leaders, but not to Israeli leaders.
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