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BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW: SAEB EREKAT, JUNE 17TH, 2001
Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used
DAVID FROST: The cease-fire brokered in Israel by the CIA's director George Tenet this week has got off to a shaky start but appears to be holding, can it last? In a moment we hope to be talking to the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Israel's Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, who spent last few hours with Ariel Sharon in the Israeli government's weekly cabinet meeting. But first I'm joined live from Ramallah by Yasser Arafat's Chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat. Good morning.
SAEB EREKAT: Good morning Mr Frost
DAVID FROST: Everybody says the cease-fire, though casual, is holding, is that your view?
SAEB EREKAT: Yes that's my view and unfortunately up to this moment the George Tenet understanding has not been implemented by the Israeli side, meaning they're tightening their closure around the siege, meaning they, they're giving the green light to settlers to take the law into their own hands.
Yesterday they burnt 3,000 trees, the international passages are still closed, I'm glad that Mr Peres is going to be with you and I will tell Mr Peres please if you want to speak in English about public relations, about making Israel look good that's fine, that's your job but when you speak in English about making peace and maintaining the cease-fire please give the same orders in Hebrew to your soldiers so it can be maintained.
I believe Mr Peres, that this is the last chance Palestinians and Israelis will have, the opportunity provided by the Tenet document could be the last chance for us and we need to have Mr Sharon comply with the, removing the closure and the siege, stopping the treatment free point to a million Palestinian hostages in this collective punishment and at the same time stop the settlers and arrest them and apprehend them.
They killed a Palestinian, wounded eight and the closure's still imposed on the international passages and all what we hear is English language Israeli version about peace and the need for peace and the orders in Hebrew are the same. It's very fragile and we really need to put this Israeli government on its compliance with what is agreed with the American side.
DAVID FROST: Yes but at the same time they would argue, because obviously each side finds breaches in what the others have or have not done, but they would say that Mr Arafat has not yet moved against the people responsible for the suicide bombs, 20, 20 on one list, people from Hamas and so on, and that there is still sporadic gunfire and so on from your side. So both, both sides have that same appreciation or lack of appreciation of what the other is doing?
SAEB EREKAT: David if it's my word against their words I don't stand a chance, neither in the Congress, neither in the Tenet, neither in the international media, so we requested to have international monitors, not by the UN, anybody, British, Americans, whoever Israel may agree with us with so they can come to the flashpoints, the friction points, to the Palestinian towns, cities, refugee camps and tell the world who's doing and who's not doing.
But first we know the next step after the Senate document is supposed to have Mr Sharon declare a freeze on settlement activity, declare a resumption on theżnegotiations leading to end the Israeli occupation by implementing Resolutions 242+338 Mr Peres knows very well and he told the Israeli Labour Party that they have accepted the Mitchell recommendations as a whole, 100 per cent, and now we know that Mr Sharon is not going to comply with the freeze of settlements, he doesn't want to make this without a fight and lose the rest of the Likud and the Israeli right-wing.
But at the same time if we allow him to continue finger-pointing at us, saying we didn't do and we didn't do, he's not the one to appoint himself as the examiner, as the judge, we need monitors, any monitors on the ground in order to say to the world, to vouch to the world as who's the side that's doing and who's the side that's not doing. Sharon cannot put himself and impose himself in a position to say I'm the examiner, I'm the one who's going to put the condition, it's all conditionality - if I say they do this, then they do this - if I say they don't then they don't. That's not fair, that's not going to work.
We all know that this government has no programme other than the destruction of the peace process and to continue the settlement activities and none complies to the agreement signed and that's why an element of international monitors is particularly needed now if we want to save the lives of Palestinians and Israelis aside from point-scoring, aside from propaganda and aside from public relations.
DAVID FROST: And what about in this, in this situation in terms of, since Mr Peres isn't here, you were talking about the, the settlers being out of control, the Israeli settlers, do you have, does Mr Arafat have, control over the Hamas, or is that, is Hamas out of control and beyond your powers?
SAEB EREKAT: Well in the last four days since Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday - five days, today is Sunday, I think President Arafat showed the world that he is exerting maximum effort, I'm not saying he has a magic stick to change things on the ground the way we want it but we are fully committed to what we agreed with Mr Tenet, we are fully committed to bring the peace process back on track, we are fully committed to maintain the ceasefire and we are fully committed to apprehend, incarcerate and question those Palestinians who will plan attacks against Israelis.
But the Israeli settlers have already staged attacks against Palestinians. Two days ago they killed a 42-year-old man in Hebron, they wounded eight Palestinians so far, they burnt 3,000 olive trees yesterday and the day before yesterday, what is the Israeli government doing to them, aside from the Israeli Army giving them their full protection?
We need monitors, I think the key to success, to this last chance, of the Tenet understanding is to provide the side with monitors so they can tell the world, they can tell David Frost, they can tell anyone who's doing and who's not doing but as far as our commitment, we are fully committed to implement all our obligations emanating from the Mitchell recommendations and emanating from the Tenet understanding and the world should stop treating Sharon and Israel as a country above the laws of man, if we want to have a chance at this endeavour to succeed, because after all it's all about saving lives of Israelis and Palestinians alike.
DAVID FROST: Thank you very much indeed Saeb and we're, we're waiting on Mr Peres coming and I'll put, put what you've been saying to him in a moment or two after the news if he arrives. But you were there and we thank you.
SAEB EREKAT: Thank you.
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