'This Week' Transcript: George Mitchell and King Abdullah II

AMANPOUR: Let's go back to the beginning of this administration's endeavors on this decades-long crisis. President Obama made it very clear that the end of Israeli settlements would be the condition for new talks, but he also wanted the Arab countries to make faith-building, trust-building maneuvers towards Israel. That didn't happen. The Arabs didn't step forward. Do you think in retrospect it was a mistake to insist that settlements remained the precondition for talks?

MITCHELL: It was not a precondition. The mistake was to not make that as clear as we could have. The president's position was that Israel should stop new settlement construction activity and, at the same time, that the Palestinians should agree to come in to talks. They were not stated as preconditions, although, unfortunately, they were then adopted as preconditions.

AMANPOUR: Certainly the whole world took it as a precondition and that...


AMANPOUR: ... it was a new position by the United States.

MITCHELL: Well, as I said, we should have made that more clear, but we never stated it.

AMANPOUR: Why should anybody think that there is a way out of this? You know, what is the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again?

MITCHELL: Yeah, well, there's another definitions of insanity, and that's to give up on a valid goal because you've gotten discouraged and you can't succeed.


AMANPOUR: So, qualified optimism from Senator Mitchell, but the administration is still grappling with fallout from the president's speech. So let's bring in ABC's chief Washington White House correspondent Jake Tapper and Aaron Miller, a long-time veteran of the State Department, where he toiled over the peace process with six secretaries of state, and he's now a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars at Princeton.

Thank you both very much. So, behind the scenes, what was this '67 line about? And did they expect it to make such a problem?

TAPPER: I don't think they expected it to be as big a diplomatic kerfuffle. Obviously, they knew it would ruffle feathers, but I don't think that they thought it would be interpreted as, President Obama wants Israel to go back to the indefensible '67 borders, which is not, of course, what he said, but is how it's been interpreted by many supporters of Israel and many opponents of the president's.

The goal was to, in some way, jump-start the process and also, as Senator Mitchell pointed out, to try to avoid this U.N. vote in September about Palestinian statehood.

AMANPOUR: Is it going to jump-start the process?

MILLER: No. Jake's right. They did this for all the reasons he's identified, but they clearly -- and I'm empathetic, sympathetic with this. This is -- you know, Truman described this as a 100-year headache. That's exactly what it is.

But the reality is, how can you give a speech the day before the prime minister arrives, a guy you don't have a relationship with, a guy who sleeps not with -- just with one eye open, as most Israeli prime ministers, but two, when it comes to Barack Obama, and you open up an issue, June '67, which for Palestinians means redemption and for Israelis the way it's pitched means national suicide the way they interpret it.


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