BBC’s Stephen Sackur, host of HardTalk, interviewed Saeb Erekat, PLO Secretary General and veteran chief negotiator on November 4. The 24 minute-long interview gives a rare glimpse into the gravity of the situation in Israel and Palestine.
Once you take the hope outside the mind of people, what do you expect?
I really could care less about what you want to call them or not call them, Stephen…The question is why such people do such things? Who took the hope from their minds? Who’s telling them in Israel that you have no hope and no future whatsoever?…We have tried for 20 years to achieve peace, and restore hope in the minds of Palestinians and Israelis, and then came this Israeli government, Stephen, and destroyed the possibility of the two-state solution, destroyed hope in the minds of Palestinians…What if your sons were under Israeli occupation, what if they were deprived of their right to live, to have jobs, to have dignity, to have a future like you and your sons. What would you do, what would they do? This is the question is that this occupation is the source of evil, the source of desperation.
I challenge any Palestinian, any political party, to say that we’re organizing what’s happening outside…I’ve never seen such developments before. All I’m telling you that Palestinians are giving up on me, on people like me, on people who promised them 20 years ago, who told them we stop violence, we don’t use any act of violence, we recognize the State of Israel, we gonna get independence through negotiations, and they believed us, they gave us all the time in the world, for 23 years. What they’re telling me now, ‘we had 200,000 settlers in the year 1993, today Dr. Erekat, we have 600,000 settlers, that’s the result of your peace process, that’s the result of your negotiations.’ The only way to begin a deescalation and deconfliction program is by restoring hope in the minds of the Palestinians.
It aches my heart to say yes…What have I delivered 22 years later? Yes, [Netanyahu] won over us, he defeated us.
Mr. Netanyahu, I hope that you are listening to me. Look in my eyes, walk me through the day after. You managed to destroy the two-state solution, you managed to destroy hope. Does this bring you security or peace? What have you done? Where have you taken us? And to those in Europe and the United States, stop treating Netanyahu as a Prime Minister above the laws of man.
I think we have a new leadership called the Israeli occupation. Mr. Netanyahu restarted, and reestablished his occupying forces…It’s time to invite Mr. Netanyahu to take over, because he’s destroying the Palestinian Authority…He destroyed everything.
I cannot get a Security Council resolution reiterating your right to statehood or to freedom, I cannot get you an investigation committee from the international Human Right Council to investigate what takes place on the ground. I cannot get you any hope whatsoever.