Gordon L. Bowen, Ph.D.
Political Science and International Relations disciplines
Mary Baldwin College
Staunton, VA USA 24401
CNN "Live at Daybreak" transcript from November 9, 2001Discussion with Chief Palestinian Negotiator
GUESTS: Saeb Erakat
BYLINE: Paula Zahn
The White House is saying no to a meeting between President Bush and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat this coming weekend, even though both of them will be
attending meetings at the United Nations.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. Twenty minutes after the
hour. The White House is saying no to a meeting between President Bush
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat this coming weekend, even though both of them will be attending meetings at the United Nations.
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice says it's because Arafat
has not done enough to reign in Palestinian extremists. Yesterday I spoke
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about what it will take to move the peace process forward. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: If the Palestinian
leadership abandons the goal of destroying Israel and communicates a
message of peace to its people and stops terrorism and dismantles the terrorist infrastructure, then we have to, I believe, enter into negotiations that would leave the
Palestinians with all the powers to govern themselves and none of the powers to destroy us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat joins us now from
Ramallah in the West Bank with his perspective on the situation. Good morning.
very much for being with us, sir.
SAEB ERAKAT, CHIEF PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR: Good morning, Paula. Thank you.
ZAHN: So you no doubt heard what the former prime minister said, that there would be a consideration of a creation of a Palestinian state if Yasser Arafat was able to stop the work of extremists in the Palestinian community. Your reaction?
ERAKAT: Let me tell Mr. Netanyahu, Paula, that we don't want to destroy Israel. On the contrary, we have recognized the state of Israel within the secured and recognized boundaries of the June '47 borders (emphasis added by Prof. Bowen). And we want and we call upon the Israeli government to join us at the negotiating table immediately in order to see to it that Resolutions 242 and 338 implemented.
The focus here should be, Paula, is on the Israeli occupation.
Israel is the last country on earth that still possesses the tact of an
occupying power. And it's the
Palestinian people who are being subjected to the worst kind of harassments, collective punishments, assassinations, closures and siege.
But nevertheless, we believe the shortest way to peace, security and stability for Palestinians and Israelis is to resume the permanent status negotiations, is to end the Israeli occupation and is to establish a Palestinian state next to the state of Israel.
ZAHN: But you know what Mr. Netanyahu had to say about that. He essentially said that the incursions into these West Bank towns were down in self-defense and he went even further yesterday. He compared Yasser Arafat to Osama bin Laden. Let's replay that part of the interview now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NETANYAHU: Yasser Arafat, Paula, is the only man on earth that I know who meets both the criteria of being a Taliban and being a bin Laden. He's the only one whose forces directly perform terrorism. His 4-17 bodyguard was caught in the act of terrorism. And he harbors terrorists like Islamic Jihad. So I think the message that should be sent to him is first, stop terror, or you will face the consequences.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: All right, Mr. Erakat, Mr. Netanyahu is not alone in his condemnation. Yesterday National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said this, "You cannot help us with al Qaeda and hug Hezbollah. That's not acceptable. Or Hamas. The president continues to make that clear to Mr. Arafat and there are no plans to meet with Mr. Arafat in New York."
Your reaction to that?
ERAKAT: Well, first, Paula, my reaction to Mr. Netanyahu, it's
really very unfortunate and unacceptable that he would say such a thing.
I don't think that the
American innocent people who were killed in the New York and Washington horrific terrorist attacks had anything, any territorial ambitions on Afghanistan. They
are not building settlements in Afghanistan. They are not occupying the Afghani people. They are not subjugating the Afghani people against their will to their
occupation for the last 34 years.
So I don't think Israel can compare itself to the United States, the innocent people who were killed in the United States.
As far as the statements of Ms. Rice, I can assure you that President
Arafat has done more for peace, more than anybody else. He is continuing
to exert in every
possible effort in order to sustain the cease-fire, in order to revive hope and in order to revive the peace process and to get back at the negotiating table.
But the focus of the American administration should be at this
particular moment, for the sake of Palestinians, Israelis and the region,
to build an international
coalition for peace in the Middle East, a coalition that will see to it that the Israeli occupation will end, that Resolutions 242 and 338 will be implemented. And that's the shortest way to peace, stability and security in the region.
ZAHN: You say Mr. Arafat is doing what he can to create peace
and yet Ms. Rice made it very clear in these comments that she doesn't
believe that Yasser Arafat
has control over extremists in Hamas or Islamic Jihad. Can you tell us this morning that, in fact, Mr. Arafat can control those extremists?
ERAKAT: Well, I think she said that he is not doing enough and
I want to know what defines enough? What are the measurements of the term
enough? We have a
partnership on the ground with the Americans and the European Union, and they can vouch for us. And I'm saying that President Arafat is exerting every possible
effort in order to sustain the cease-fire and we call upon the Sharon government to immediately, unconditionally come back to the permanent status negotiations and they are blocking every door.
I know that I'm no match to them as far as the media, as far as
many things are concerned. But in order to save the lives of Israelis and
Palestinians, we have only
one way, and that way is to ensure the Palestinian people and the Israeli people that peace is doable through ending the Israeli occupation, through establishing a
Palestinian state next to the state of Israel on the June '47 borders. And I believe this is the shortest way. We should focus on this and focus on ending the Israeli
occupation. And I don't think anybody who will continue treating Israeli occupation as a country above the laws of man, I don't think they will stand any moral
It's time to end the Israeli occupation. It's time to resume the peace process and the focus should be there now.
ZAHN: Well, how troubled are you, then, by the administration's view right now? We know that Yasser Arafat is coming to town this weekend. Colin Powell will sit down with him. The president of the United States will not.
ERAKAT: Well, I don't think, you know, a meeting is an objective
by itself. President Arafat is traveling the world over and doing everything
possible in order to
save lives of Palestinians and Israelis. President Arafat wants to resume the negotiating table. President Arafat has done more for peace for Palestinians and Israelis
more than anybody else in this region and in the world. President Arafat has recognized the state of Israel to exist and live in peace. And I think the efforts should be concentrated now focusing on building this international coalition for peace in the Middle East, to resume the negotiations and to book mechanisms to implement
Resolutions 242 and 338. And the key here to stability and peace is to end the Israeli occupation.
ZAHN: Let me ask you this, there's a great deal of speculation as this peace process moves along ever so slowly about who the leaders in the future might be down the road in Israel and if a Palestinian state is created in Palestine. If for some reason Yasser Arafat is unable to continue serving during -- due to a health reason or some other reason -- what Palestinian leader could you point to who you think could really deliver on this plan for peace?
ERAKAT: Paula, President Yasser Arafat was elected directly by
the Palestinian people in an election in 1996. And I think he has planted
the seeds of democracy
and I think any Palestinian leader who would come in the future will have to be directly elected by the Palestinian people.
ZAHN: Can you name some names this morning of who that person might be?
ERAKAT: I think whoever will the Palestinian people vote for,
the majority, will be the future president of the Palestinian people. President
Arafat had planted the
seeds of democracy and I can tell you now, no Palestinian president in the future will come other than through being elected directly by the major -- by the
ZAHN: And I need a brief answer to this. What kind of message will Yasser Arafat be carrying to Colin Powell this weekend?
ERAKAT: He will be carrying a message of peace, not only to Colin
Powell, to the Israeli people, to the American people, to the world. And
he will ask the
international community to help him in his endeavor of achieving peace for Palestinians and Israelis through the implementation of the U.N. Security Council
resolutions, through ending the Israeli occupation and establishing a Palestinian state next to the state of Israel.
ZAHN: Saeb Erakat, as always, good of you to join us. Appreciate your time this morning.
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