Steven - Now on Israel, do you consider yourself a Zionist?
Newt - Well, I believe that the Jewish people have the right to have a state, and I believethat the commitments that were made at a time…remember there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire. And I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs, and were historically part of the Arab community. And they had a chance to go many places. And for a variety of political reasons we have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940’s, and I think it’s tragic.
Steven - You were instrumental in the Oslo peace process in applying a number of restrictions relating to the embassy, funding and so on. It’s now been 17 years since that process started, how do you think it’s going?
Newt - Well, I think it’s delusional to call it a peace process. I mean, we have an armed truce with a Palestinian Authority that’s relatively weak. And on its flank is a Hamas authority which may become relatively weak, because it can’t deliver anything. But both of which represent an enormous desire to destroy Israel. And I think unless you start with…and frankly, given their school system and the hatred they teach in their schools, often with money that comes from us through the United Nations, I mean I think there’s a lot to think about in terms of how fundamentally you want to change the terms of debate in the region.
Steven - Now, for a lot of Pro-Israel voters in America, one of the most controversial policies to come out of the Republican primary so far has been the foreign aid funding starting at zero. Where do you feel that Israel falls into that?
Newt - Well, first of all, we have a 10-year commitment that we have to live out. So I think because we’ve made this long-term commitment, you wouldn’t be able to go back to zero.
Steven – Do you renew that commitment?
Newt – Well, it runs for another seven years, I think. You know, I don’t think you need to renew it right now. But I think the intellectual principal that we should rethink from the ground up every commitment we have is a good one. The world is changing very dramatically. There is no Soviet Empire. We were in the habit of throwing money away everywhere. And very often, we’re giving money to a dictatorship that votes against us in the UN, and despises us. Well, why are we doing that? So I think the idea of rethinking it all is a totally reasonable idea. I think, as Governor Perry himself said, you know it’s very, very likely that Israel’d be fine. But there’s nothing wrong with saying, “let’s critically think about everything we’re doing,” when you’re talking about two, or three or four billion dollars a year.