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Benjamin Netanyahu and Hanan Ashwari
Benjamin Netanyahu and Hanan Ashwari
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW: BENJAMIN NETANYAHU FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER and HANAN ASHWARI PALESTINIAN LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL SEPTEMBER 16TH, 2001

DAVID FROST:
Now this week's terrorist outrage is having profound consequences in the Middle East of course and joining me now from Jerusalem is the former Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Good morning.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU:
Good morning David.

DAVID FROST:
Thank you for joining us. People here are very disappointed that Mr Sharon cancelled the meeting with the PLO today, do you think that was a mistake?

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU:
No I think it was absolutely right, President Bush had said that the battle is against terrorists and those who harbour terrorists and those who launch car bombs and those who launch all these heinous attacks. Well who, but Yasser Arafat who pioneered the art of terrorism, can move the territory that he controls and merges all this terrorism with Islami groups, Islamic Jihad, his own Fata forces and of course the Hamas have been supporting Bin Laden, have been in touch with Bin Laden, Bin Laden has had operations in fact, has had several attempts in the last year to work more closely with the Palestinian groups. I and Hiz'bollah this is a network of terrorism which includes not only the, Bin Laden's own enclave in Afghanistan but also the terror regimes of Iran and Iraq and the Palestinian terror regime led by Arafat. So I think this would weaken the principle. The way to win this war is to be very clear on the principle and to build a coalition around the principle not the other way around, that is define the mission as eradicating terrorism everywhere and terrorism in one part of the world emboldens terrorists everywhere. I think the car bombs that have exploded in Israel that Arafat has perfected has been the same inspiration for the car, the plane bomb that struck the twin towers. Go after terrorism everywhere, don't legitimise it in any way, whatever the conflict, whatever the grievances terrorism is out and anybody who harbours terrorism, like Arafat, cannot be given any legitimacy.

DAVID FROST:
But a lot of people say that they think that it's the, Israel's treatment of the Palestinians and bombing and attacking the Palestinians that provides the fuel for the Islamic Fundamentalist campaign, that that is, that is, that is one of the key things behind it and they couldn't do what they, if Israel had solved the Palestinian problem then maybe they wouldn't exist?

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU:
Well I think that's tragically mistaken for two reasons, first the Palestinians were offered everything they say in the West and their spokesmen, spokeswomen say they want in the West, a West Bank State with half of Jerusalem as its capital, that was offered a year ago by Prime Minister, former Prime Minister Barak at Camp David, Yasser Arafat chucked it out and he said, no I want a state not next to Israel, I want a state instead of Israel and then proceeded, after all these offers were made, to launch a war of terrorism. So Israel is protecting itself against destructionist ideology just the way Britain would. But I think it's mistaken for a larger reason, the Palestine-Israel conflict is merely a small branch of a much larger militancy fuelled primarily at its centre by an Islamic militancy that I think distorts the great religion of Islam. These people view history as being derelict, they have to change history and their antagonism towards the West goes back centuries, indeed a thousand years. What we're facing today, what you saw in America is a will by this militancy to destroy America and bring back what they view in their twisted fantasies, the resurgence of Islam, they will attack America again and again and again and in fact they hate America, they hate America not because of Israel, they hate Israel because they see it as an outpost of America so even if Israel didn't exist Bin Laden would attack again and again and again.

DAVID FROST:
Alright I must leap in there, thank you very much indeed for joining us this morning. And now joining us live from Ramallah on the West Bank is the Palestinian legislator Dr Hanan Ashwari. Would you, did you, were you able to hear what Mr Netanyahu was just saying?

HANAN ASHWARI:
Yes sadly I was able to hear and I was very dismayed.

DAVID FROST:
Why?

HANAN ASHWARI:
Because in this moment of tremendous pain, in this moment where the whole world is reconsidering where it went wrong and how we could join together in order to reaffirm our humanity we hear nothing but hate language, labelling, stereotyping, maligning a whole nation, a whole religion and of course war-mongering. To come here this morning I had to go through shooting, my husband took his mother to chemotherapy, they had to drive through tanks and shelling, nobody slept last night, we are besieged and we are being shelled and killed and houses destroyed and by an Israeli occupation and military occupation. And yet he sits there and accuses us of being terrorists when in the, the last year we had over 700 Palestinians killed, civilians, and over 20,000 injured. Since the bombing Israel has killed 24 Palestinians and wounded 200, they're all civilians. The occupation is the cause of all this and Israeli behaviour has generally undermined human values, has undermined American legitimacy and credibility and has given rise to terrorism as a state terrorising a whole population with full impunity.

DAVID FROST:
And in terms of the two images we saw this week, Palestinian images, the one of some young Palestinians jumping for joy and the other, the other was the picture of Yasser Arafat giving blood for the American effort?

HANAN ASHWARI:
Yes

DAVID FROST:
Which of those two was closer to the feelings of ordinary people, ordinary Palestinians?

HANAN ASHWARI:
I think most, most Palestinians, the overwhelming majority and I could say now there is a unanimity, feel a sense of outrage, horror and grief. Initially last Tuesday on the 11th people didn't understand what was happening, there were a few kids who reacted because we are a wounded nation ourself and people reacted thinking well now the US understands what it feels like to be victimised. But once they understood the full import of the horror Palestinians all sent their condolences, all expressed their grief, we have children lighting candles, candle vigils, laying wreaths and flowers at the American Consulate. There was a day of mourning, every day, yesterday at the legislative council we expressed our grief and horror and extended our condolences and we openly expressed, as a people, as a nation, as a leadership, our willingness to join in a global human effort to combat terrorism. We did not talk about war, we did not talk about creating more victims or aggravating the situation but we talked about a real effort in the same spirit, I think, as Jim Wolfensohn was talking about, of trying to deal with the underlying causes and of preventing further human grief and suffering.

DAVID FROST:
Alright well, apparently Mr Netanyahu wants to come back for 20 seconds so then I'll come back to you for 20 seconds. Yes Mr Netanyahu?

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU:
Well Arafat can shed crocodile tears and donate blood, he's shed more innocent blood and more American blood, bombing American aircraft, killing American diplomats, bombing and killing American citizens in the heart of Jerusalem and in fact the demonstrations with people carrying pictures of Bin Laden yesterday were going to be transmitted by the news media for example by the Australian media¿

DAVID FROST:
I'm sorry I've got to come in there because we're, we're running out of time but I wanted to give you that extra time and therefore Hanan Ashwari must have that extra time to respond to that?

HANAN ASHWARI:
It's absolutely dangerous to start, not just war-mongering but presenting the situation in a skewed way. Guilt by association, stereotyping, racism and avoiding the consequences of the most brutal and immoral form of enslavement and subjugation which is Israel's military occupation.

DAVID FROST:
Thank you very much, thank you to both of you there.

END


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