Interview with Yasar Arafat at His Headquarters in Gaza -- September 13, 1995
Pat asks Palestinian Authority ChairmanYasar Arafat about the peace plan pending at the time.
PAT ROBERTSON: President Arafat, we are talking about the peace process.
Are you encouraged or discouraged about the progress so far?
ARAFAT: I'm sorry to say that we are trying to do all our
best to over-jump and to bypass all the obstacles now which
have been put in front of us. As an example, you know, that
the agreement was supposed to be last year in July last year.
Now we are in September 95. This means that it already has been
delayed 14 months.
ROBERTSON: What seems to be the sticking point? What's holding up the progress?
ARAFAT: To speak frankly?
ROBERTSON: Yes, please.
ARAFAT: We are facing what has been said between the Algerians, and
the French, the OIS. And the two sides, there are fanatic groups
who are against the peace process. And for this, you remember,
I had called this the peace of the braves. Why? Because it means
we have to be very courageous to continue the peace process.
an example, we have some problems in Hebron. At the same time,
this terrorist activities by the fanatic kind of groups. Again,
it's out of sight. But what astonished me that there is called the nation between
the two sides. And here is the proof. These have been confiscated
from one of the fanatic groups. Look. This here for the Identity
Cards. (Presents Pat identity cards)
ROBERTSON: For the Israeli identity cards?
ARAFAT: Here. Here is your identity.
ROBERTSON: Now this is an authentic Israeli identity card. These are the
stamps. This is the seal of lsrael and so, is somebody is carrying
ARAFAT: These are the stamps
. They can ...and
ROBERTSON: It has a computerized number on the top?
ARAFAT: Computerized number.
ROBERTSON: Well now, if somebody was carrying that, then he or she becomes
an Israeli citizen.
ARAFAT: An Israeli citizen and can move anyplace.
ROBERTSON: Well now, they were made available to Hamas, but who gave them
ARAFAT: This is the point. Someone gave it to them. And it is not from
one department; this is from different departments. When I gave
these documents to the Israeli side officially. And at the same
time, I gave, I informed the American representative and the
Russian representative. They said that it had been stolen. How?
But, this is not from one department. It's from different departments.
ROBERTSON: But, Hamas wouldn't have access to those confidential documents
of many departments.
ARAFAT: Without the help ...they can't achieve these documents.
ROBERTSON: Well, you believe...
ARAFAT: Not one, Not two, Not five, Not 10, 1,500. From every document.
ROBERTSON: Authentic documents?
ARAFAT: Yes. Authentic Documents.
ROBERTSON: Well, do you believe that the so-called right wing Israeli is
trying to frustrate the peace process?
ARAFAT: The peace? Can you have it?
ROBERTSON: Yes. Indeed. Maybe I can make myself an Israeli citizen. (laughter)
ARAFAT: Military or civilian?
ROBERTSON: I can take my choice. Well, they might draft me in the army...
I'd better be careful. But this is a frightening thing. Who
ARAFAT: Not only that. I had arrested one of the heads of the Islamic
Jihad who is supported by the Iranians.
ARAFAT: He confessed in their courts, in our security courts, that he
had received help when he sent the two guys who made tourist
ROBERTSON: The massacre?
ARAFAT: Yes. And I offered this question freely with Mr. Prime Minister
Rabin. In the beginning he was not believing me. Then I asked
him to make a joint investigation committee together.
ROBERTSON: And did he agree?
ARAFAT: He said okay, but on investigation, and the only thing which
he has done --no major steps have been taken.
ROBERTSON: You, in your organization, are opposed to Hamas, are you not?
I mean you would like to see it go away or eliminated.
ARAFAT: Again, I am not, if they are taking a political position, I
am not against it. It is democracy. But using the armies and
using terrorist activities, definitely, I am against that.
ROBERTSON: But you were the hero of many Islamic republics and nations
around the world. And now, I understand, Kuwait is opposed,
Iran is opposed, Libya is opposed. You are having enormous pressure
put against you.
ARAFAT: For this, I have called it the peace of the braves. And, I used
to say if Rabin has one opposition, I have four oppositions,
or five oppositions for Islamic opposition, Arab opposition,
Palestinian oppositions. I have different kinds of oppositions.
But at the same time, I am moving because it had been done between
the Algerians and the French. And it had been done between Mandela
and deKlerk. Then we have to pull up the same here between me
ROBERTSON: But in the process --I remember Anwar Sadat --your life is in
danger? Is that right?
ARAFAT: Yes. Sadat had done it.
ROBERTSON: Yes, he did. He was a very brave man.
ARAFAT: And for your information, he was my old defense. I have known
him since '51. ' 51. We were together in the Suez Canal against
the British occupation in Egypt.
ROBERTSON: That goes way back. Yes, of course.
ARAFAT: The Resistance. The Resistance.
ROBERTSON: He was put in jail by the British. He was in prison.
ARAFAT: Because of that.
ROBERTSON: Let me ask you. I understand Kuwait, which was rescued by the
United States from the invasion of Saddam Hussein, has frozen
your bank account.
I have fought with the American administration officially about
this amount of money, big amount of money.
ROBERTSON: Why have they done that?
ARAFAT: I don't know. And at the same time, they are helping these fanatic
ROBERTSON: I understand Hafaz al-Assad has sponsored a radio station in
ARAFAT: A radio station in Syria and this radio station has been financed
by the Libyans.
ROBERTSON: To broadcast in...
ROBERTSON: ...the West Bank, against you?
ARAFAT: Yes, against all the peace process.
ROBERTSON: Are you optimistic?
ROBERTSON: You have to be.
ARAFAT: I am optimistic, because from the beginning I was expecting
to face troubles because it is not a joke with what we are doing.
We are making an historical, and very important, peaceful agreement.
Because peace is not only for the Palestinian needs. It is a
Palestinian need, it is an Israeli need, an international need.
ROBERTSON: Of course.
ARAFAT: And for this, we have to be courageous and brave enough to face
all these obstacles.
ROBERTSON: There was a time that the Palestinian Liberation Organization
called for the destruction of the State of Israel. Have you
ARAFAT: Yes, it has been. You remember, this has been over. If you remember,
in '88, our PNC took a very important decision in which we said
to state solutions. And I had the declared by the name of our
PNC, and the general assembly of the United Nations engineered
that, and directly after that, we opened the dialogue with the
American administration. You remember that?
ROBERTSON: Yes, I do.
ARAFAT: And then directly, we have this, because of that. When they
asked of me, "What about this covenant?" I said, "The
covenant after this decision became caduc." Caduc is a
ROBERTSON: Alright. Gone.
ROBERTSON: And so right now, on this television network, you're saying
that that does not exist any longer?
ARAFAT: Yeah. Defeatism, it became caduc. And, we had repeated it in
1991 when we gave our approval to participate in Madrid Conference,
according to President Bush initiative.
ROBERTSON: I remember.
ARAFAT: And we went. We participated in Madrid Conference. New conditions.
ROBERTSON: So, you believe that indeed there will be a Palestinian state
that will co-exist peacefully with the State of Israel?
ARAFAT: Either a Palestinian state or, according to also a decision
in our Parliament, the PNC, to have a confederation with the
Jordanians. But according to the free choice of the two people.
ROBERTSON: One last question. Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the eternal city,
and it does not look like Mr. Rabin will negotiate about Jerusalem.
Is that a sticking point to you?
ARAFAT: If there is a will, there is a way. We have some examples. Rome.
Rome is the capital of the Vatican, and at the same time, it
is the capital of the Italian government.
ROBERTSON: Well that's certainly true.
ARAFAT: Well, if there is a will, there is way.
ROBERTSON: So, you are flexing...
ARAFAT: But not, and not something similar to Berlin.
ROBERTSON: No that would be tragic.
ARAFAT: No. Open.
ROBERTSON: Speaking of open. There was a prominent cleric who made a statement
that was widely publicized in Israel today that if Hebron became
part of the Palestinian entity, that the Jews could no longer
worship in those shrines there. Now, was he speaking, he wasn't
speaking for you was he?
ARAFAT: No. Definitely, he's not speaking for me. But for your information,
we in Jericho, I think he had misjudged to suppress exactly
what he's meaning. He's meaning that these holy places on our
side have to be protected by us. And the holy places on the
other side have to be protected by them.
ROBERTSON: But open to worshippers of every kind?
ARAFAT: For all of, for everybody.
ROBERTSON: Christian, Jews, Muslims?
ARAFAT: Christian, Jews, and Muslims, not to forget we are cousins.This
is facts and realities, and this is history.
ROBERTSON: Yes. And with cousins, there will be peace?
ROBERTSON: Mr. President, thank you very much.