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Ehud Barak, former Israeli Prime Minister
Ehud Barak, former Israeli Prime Minister

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: The need to build an international coalition that includes the Arab world against the Taliban is causing nervousness in Israel. President Bush is said to be determined hatred between Israelis and Palestinians will not undermine his coalition. He's let it be known that he favours an eventual Palestinian state as long, of course, as Israel's right-to-exist is also recognised and a bitter war of words broke out this week between Washington and Jerusalem with Ariel Sharon accusing the Americans of being about to appease terrorists. His predecessor as Prime Minister, the man who got so close, it seemed, to peace talks is Ehud Barak and he joins me now from Tel Aviv. Good morning to you.

EHUD BARAK: Good morning David.

DAVID FROST: Nice to have you with us. Do you feel that in, in terms of his remarks about America and Czechoslovakia in 1938 and appeasement, do you feel that Ariel Sharon went too far?

EHUD BARAK: Well first of all I believe that the whole thing is already behind us it was just like cloud like the kind of ┐snow storm over Afghanistan, it's, it's already behind us. I believe that we have really no better ally than the United States and I believe that we are the only real outpost of Western civilisation in this area. In regard to the, the wording that, that Sharon chose, maybe, maybe it's quite exaggerated, after all until now President Bush is acting more like Roosevelt or Churchill rather than a Chamberlain. But I can understand his worries, the worries of Prime Minister Sharon that somehow the categorisation of two different types of terror, the global-reach terror and the local terror will not emerge as something that will be with us for the, in the long-term.

DAVID FROST: And if you'd won the last election Ehud, and come back, come back into government, would you have continued those negotiations and do you think you could have had success?

EHUD BARAK: Oh I think that, that this point of time and I believe that Dr Kissinger put it in an accurate way, Arafat should not be rewarded for his last year of turning deliberate, turning into terror and violence both his own and closing his eyes to the terror of Hamas and Jihad. He should not be rewarded, the world should be setting a clear standard for him, namely Mr Arafat we will support resumption of negotiations but we expect you to leave terror behind you, namely to re-arrest the terrorists on the list that you have been given by the CIA and other intelligence agencies, you have to put an end to terror by your own people and you have to stop the incitement for terror and violence on the public media of the Palestinians. We will be free with free hands to deal with it in two, three or for four months I hope after a major strike on the, on Taliban and Osamar bin Laden and then we will judge you according to your behaviour. If you will do what is, what you are expected to do it makes sense that Israel will be asked to respond in, negotiation, but if you don't you cannot be rewarded for turning to terrorist violence.

DAVID FROST: But of course the figures that we all see around the world do show that in the last year, you know, Israel has killed four times as many Palestinians as Palestinians have killed Israelis?

EHUD BARAK: Oh come on you cannot draw a moral equivalent between the, the victims of terror and the kind of results and the collateral damage of any steps of self-defence. The real difference between us and the Palestinians is that the Palestinians some how they sent exactly like bin Laden and the Hezbollah and some others, they are sending terrorists deliberately, even this morning, to kill people inside Israel, innocent civilians without any kind of differentiation. When we are hitting or trying to intercept terrorists before they are coming to explode themselves in our streets, sometimes it could happen that even innocent civilians is hit, it's a tragedy we are painful but we, we are the victims of terror not the sources of it.

DAVID FROST: Tell me something, in terms of the Palestinian state, obviously in your negotiations, your offers to Yasser Arafat, you, you in fact were offering a Palestinian state divided into four pieces, one of them Gaza. President Bush has talked about a Palestinian state this week, of course Ariel Sharon doesn't agree with you on this point, I mean he's still opposed to a Palestinian State really, isn't he?

EHUD BARAK: No in fact he said, three days ago he said that we are ready to offer Arafat a Palestinian state, maybe what he has in mind is something like the, the version that you have described of three or four but let me tell you very frankly, the offer that was put on the table by President Clinton and we were ready to negotiate Arafat refused, was not one about it was a contiguous Palestinian presence over some 90 per cent or maybe more of the West Bank and the fact that the Palestinians are lying to their own people about the nature of the offer is quite telling and casts certain doubts about what, what they really had in mind even during Camp David.

DAVID FROST: Thank you very much Ehud Barak, we thank you for joining us, it's good to see you, thank you.

EHUD BARAK: Thank you David and we hope everything will be well on this struggle against terror.

DAVID FROST: Absolutely, absolutely.


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