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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Amampour Interview with Saeb Erekat

FYI: This is who is the chief negotiator for the Palestinians who the US government is working with, so in light of that, the following is what he said in an interview with Cristiane Amampour: (If anyone reading here has the link for a video I would appreciate if you left it in a comment--Thanks!)SOURCE

Nov 4, 2009 (Al-Bawaba via COMTEX) -- ZZFNV | Quote | Chart | News | PowerRating -- Amanpour's interview with Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erakat; Helene Pelosse, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency; and Majid Jafar, Executive Director of Crescent Petroleum. See more of Amanpour. at HYPERLINK "" o "" t "_blank" ***ANY USE OF THIS MATERIAL MUST CREDIT CNN'S 'AMANPOUR' Full Transcript CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, HOST OF CNN'S

AMANPOUR: Tonight, fading hopes for peace in the Middle East and the challenge of moving past petroleum. In our special program from the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, we look at two vital signs shaping the future. Good evening. I'm Christiane Amanpour, and welcome to the program in Abu Dhabi, where we're helping to launch a new CNN center here and for a close-up look at the Middle East in flux. It's another week further away from achieving peace in the Middle East, but here in the Persian Gulf, it's another week closer to figuring out what to do when the oil runs out. We'll ask two people how to reduce the UAE's massive carbon footprint. But first, we turn to a man who spent two decades at the negotiating table. Saeb Erakat has been the chief Palestinian negotiator in talks with a succession of Israeli governments, and we welcome him back to this program. Things seem to be all in flux yet again. Prime Minister Netanyahu has said, "I urge the Palestinians to come to the negotiating table." Are you going to do that?

SAEB ERAKAT, CHIEF PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR: I urge him not to miss an opportunity. I urge Netanyahu to choose between settlements or peace. I hope that he chooses peace. He cannot condition us with 3,000 housing units...

AMANPOUR: Well, hold on a second. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that he's made, quote, "unprecedented concessions." What offer has he made on this settlement issue?

ERAKAT: Well, I think what we heard from Mr. Netanyahu is he wants to continue building 3,000 housing units, he wants to exclude Jerusalem where 59 percent of the construction takes place, and he wants to exclude public buildings and infrastructure. If this happens, it means, Christiane, that in 2010-2011, he will build more settlements that were built in 2008-2009. So I -- I think Madam Clinton should know these figures, because they're...

AMANPOUR: Did she bring this Netanyahu position to Abu Mazen, Mahmoud Abbas?

ERAKAT: No. She said that the United States considers settlements as illegitimate and the United States rejects and doesn't accept the annexation of East Jerusalem by Israel.

AMANPOUR: Except for the fact that, even though President Obama made a complete halt on freeze -- a complete freeze on settlement activity, a hallmark of his policy, they're now softening their tone on that, to the point that Hillary Clinton today has said what Prime Minister Netanyahu's done is unprecedented, and that means more settlements.

ERAKAT: Well, what I think we -- we all have choices, Christiane. Now it's 19 years later. We have accepted and recognized Israel on 78 percent of historic Palestine (ph) and accepted to have our state on the remaining 22 percent of the land. Now, it seems to me that Mr. Netanyahu wants to partition this 22 percent. If this is the case, this is a non-starter.

: I'm going to play you what Prime Minister Netanyahu said.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: This is a new demand. It's a change of policy, of Palestinian policy. And it's -- it's -- it doesn't do much for peace. It doesn't work to advance negotiations. It actually is used as a pretext or at least as something, as an obstacle that prevents the re-establishment of negotiations. ERAKAT: That tells me something, that Mr. Netanyahu did not read the roadmap of the Americans, which he claims to have accepted, because in that roadmap, Israel has an obligation to stop settlement activities, including natural growth. So it's not a Palestinian demand, even. It's not a Palestinian precondition. Now the issues of Jerusalem, border, settlements, we're supposed to negotiate. Now he's dictating the outcome of these issues by settlements, by -- by fait accompli policies.

AMANPOUR: OK. Where does this go now? Is there any likelihood in the next few weeks, before Palestinian elections, of -- of -- of the Palestinian president sitting down with the Israeli prime minister, direct negotiations?

ERAKAT: I think -- I think we all have...

AMANPOUR: No, but is there any prospect of that happening?

ERAKAT: With this, the continuation of 3,000 housing units that Netanyahu intends to continue, and to exclude Jerusalem, I think this is going to be a non-starter.

AMANPOUR: A non-starter?

ERAKAT: And I think, further than that, 19 years later, I think President Abbas must ask himself the question, if the Israeli government insists in continuing with settlement activities and dictation and fait accompli policies, is the two states possible anymore? Because the land that I'm supposed to have my state on, the West Bank and Gaza and East Jerusalem, is being eaten up by settlements and wars. And maybe -- and maybe it's time to -- Mr. Netanyahu, he made the choice. He had the choice between peace and settlements, and he chose settlements. And Abu Mazen must make the choice.

: Between?

ERAKAT: Between continuing following in order his dream and our dreams and our ambitions to achieve a state and the fact on the ground that Israel is undermining the two-state solution. And maybe we should go to see other options. Maybe the one-state solution is the option now.

AMANPOUR: Well, as you know for Israel, that won't be -- that's also a non-starter, a one-state. But let me ask you about Abu Mazen, the president of the Palestinian Authority. He's basically floating the notion that he will not context the next round of elections. He's said that he doesn't want to see -- he might not seek the presidency, nor, indeed, run in the elections. Is that right?

: Yes. And I don't blame him. To be honest with you, I don't -- I don't blame him at all. Not to...

AMANPOUR: Is this a ploy, or do you believe this will happen?

: No, no. Abu Mazen -- Abu Mazen is one of the most decent persons you could encounter in your life. He's not one of us. He's not a bargainer. He's not asking (inaudible) now he had committed all his obligations. He stood all his life for the two-state solution. He had recognized Israel's right to exist in peace and security. And in return, what he sees is more settlements, more of his land being eaten up, more dictation. What he sees is an Israeli government that wants to condition Jerusalem and borders and settlements without negotiations and then blaming him, assigning blame that he doesn't want negotiations.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about, obviously, a major complicating issue in terms of what the Israelis say and, in fact, now what the Palestinians are saying. The Goldstone report, from what I gather, Abu Mazen was asked, pressured by various people, including the United States, not to move this along from the Human Rights Council and that he got a considerable amount of support from other Arab countries and other -- other -- other nations not to. And now everybody's saying, no, you're wrong, you should have brought it to the Security Council.

ERAKAT: Well, it was really a very special cast in Arab and regional and Israeli and American politics. Goldstone report was there. There were 57 nations discussing this thing. There were a Palestinian-Arab-Muslim proposal. There was an American proposal. Abu Mazen thought we did not have the votes, so it was the motion of postponing the issue...

AMANPOUR: To postpone bringing it to the Security Council.

: Bringing it to the Security Council for three months or six months was brought up. Everybody agreed, and then everybody said we do not agree. So Abu Mazen was extremely under attack in the Arab world, in Palestinian circles, and he...

: But are you saying they had supported him?

ERAKAT: Well, nobody objected to the notion, and all those present in the Muslim bloc, the Arab bloc, the (inaudible) bloc, nobody objected to the notion of postponement when the Pakistani ambassador read the motion. But once the public opinion was an uprising against the postponement, everybody said, "It's Abu Mazen who did it, not us."

: So does he feel betrayed by his own fellow Arab leaders?

ERAKAT: He has this feeling, yes. Yes, he feels betrayed by Arabs, Israelis, some Palestinians, and to a certain extent by Americans.

: And to a certain extent by the Americans?


: In terms of the -- the -- I mean, I just want to ask you point blank. I heard you say this week something about a third intifada, and I want to know whether you really mean that and that this very, very crucial and difficult moment right now is going to be calmed down, or do you think that there will be violence erupting?

ERAKAT: I don't (inaudible) erupt. I don't want violence to erupt. I have spent my life in building a Palestinian peace camp, Christiane. This is not a job that I do. This is a life commitment. I don't want my son to be a suicide bomber. I don't want my son to be killed in conflict. I want peace. I want a two-state solution. What I said was, the Israeli provocations in East Jerusalem, you remember 2000? This is like pouring fuel to the fire, and we urge them to end it, because we don't want -- because, you know, desperation will lead to desperate acts. (Bill Clinton voiced this same opinion in Abu Dhabi today, read HERE)

AMANPOUR: Abu Mazen said that there was -- he was close to making an agreement with Prime Minister Olmert. Is that true?

: That's true. We never came so close.

: And yet he didn't go forward.

ERAKAT: No, that's not what happened. What happened was, Olmert gave a map. Abu Mazen gave a map. And for the first time, we had a very close map. We're talking about the high 90s, in terms of percentages of the West Bank and the swaps of land. We agreed to go to Ashant (ph) and on January 3, 2009, to lock in this agreement with Secretary Rice at that time. What happened, Olmert decided to go to Gaza, attack Gaza, and then he had the scandal at home. But I think -- this is why what we're saying to Mr. Netanyahu today, why do you want to eat the apple (ph) from the start? Why do you want to reinvent the wheel? Why can't you have a public statement saying, "I will resume negotiations where we left them on December 2008"?

AMANPOUR: OK, now let me ask you right now, given the unlikely nature of direct negotiations, do you think there will be sort of a go-between activity, indirect negotiations between the Palestinians and -- and the Israelis, perhaps leaving settlements aside, talking about territory, maps?

ERAKAT: Well, look, I think, at the end of the day, the required decisions are not required from Americans or Europeans or Arabs. Decisions must be made by Palestinians and Israelis. What we want Mr. Netanyahu to stand up, to stand tall and tell his people, what they -- what they need to hear, we tell him there was an Israeli government and we came so close with it. Mr. Netanyahu, do you accept to resume negotiations where we left them in December 2008? Because we cannot go back to point blank zero.

: You say you came very close during the Bush administration.

: Absolutely.
AMANPOUR: So who have been better negotiators or facilitators, the Bush administration or the Obama administration?

ERAKAT: Well, I -- I think Obama did not get his chance yet. It's really unfair to speak of President Obama and to jump to premature conclusions. President Obama has made it very clear that establishing a Palestinian state is a national American interest, and we want him to stay the course. We have no quarrel with Mr. Obama. We have a real quarrel with Mr. Netanyahu. Will you accept to resume negotiations on all core issues where we leave them in December 2008? Question, yes or no, Mr. Netanyahu?

AMANPOUR: So far he's saying no.

: If he says no, then he can do (inaudible) stance saying that he wants to negotiate and, you know, he wants to discuss things and we're saying no. If this is what he wants to achieve, this will not save lives of Israelis and Palestinians.

AMANPOUR: On that note, Mr. Erakat, thank you very much, indeed. Next, the beginnings of an eco-city in the heart of the Persian Gulf. How the region is planning the transition from oil to renewable energies. Stay with us


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