‘Donahue’ for July 30
Read the complete transcript of Tuesday’s show. Guests: Shimon Peres, Eliot Spitzer, Dennis Kucinich, Richard Perle
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PHIL DONAHUE, HOST: Good evening. Today in Jerusalem, another suicide bombing that injured four civilians and killed a bomber, leaving us to wonder when and how will it ever end. Joining me now from Aspen, Colorado, at the World Forum Economic Conference is Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.
Welcome, Mr. Foreign Minister. Sir, I don’t know where to begin with you. I’m left to wonder about how you get through the day. Do you shake Ariel Sharon’s hand when you go into those meetings?
SHIMON PERES, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, we are working together, and our aim is really to achieve peace. Though we may have some differences, what is the best way to do it?
DONAHUE: Well, the differences are very, very severe, sir.
Incidentally, “Der Spiegel,” the German magazine, this current issue, says
” quotes you as saying you have doubts about Ariel Sharon’s commitment to peace. Did you say that?
PERES: No, it was a translation from German language to French, from French to English.
DONAHUE: All right, you didn’t say it.
PERES: What I said is, they didn’t ask me if Mr. Sharon wants peace, but if he’s able to do it. And I says, I have my doubts because it doesn’t depend upon him alone. There are other parties to it. That was the mistake.
DONAHUE: Yes. Can anybody believe that Ariel Sharon wants a Palestinian state? He doesn’t. I don’t think he wants it in his lifetime. He doesn’t want it ever. And whatever he says, it looks like we’re playing a great big, hypocritical game for the public stage, making it more depressing when you think about whether we’re ever going to achieve peace.
Would you agree with my assessment of the prime minister?
PERES: No, I would not. Because I think Sharon is able to read a political map like anybody else. And, you know, peace is the only alternative for the future of Israel, for the future of the Palestinians. And we have to have two states, otherwise democracy will make out of us a bi-national state with a non-Jewish majority.
And also, time is running out. So all told, we have to reach the same goal.
DONAHUE: Yes, time is running out. And following Oslo and you receiving the Nobel prize, what a wonderful, wonderful honor. What mother wouldn’t want her son, the Nobel prize? And since Oslo, we’ve had a doubling of Israeli settlers. Now, how is there possibly light at the end of this tunnel?
PERES: Well, I didn’t work to get a Nobel prize. I worked for peace, and I’m continuing to work for peace. And I think peace remains the real option for the future.
Now, what happened is that both parties, particularly the Palestinian one, has committed some mistakes because the Oslo agreement lasted only for three years, instead of five years. I believe would it last for the whole five years, we would have already peace.
I do believe also that the vision of President Bush is a continuation of the Oslo Agreement. It’s actually the same way, the same purpose, the same attempt.
DONAHUE: All right. I want to show you the tape of the president announcing his plan for peace, and what we have to do-what Arafat should do. Now, watch this, it’s very brief. The president speaks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership, so that a Palestinian state can be born.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERES: I agree that that is what is needed for the Palestinians. And they have to do it. And there is a growing demand among the Palestinians themselves, either to change the leadership or to change the government, the system of governance among the Palestinians.
They do a great deal of harm to themselves. Terror brought practically an end to the Palestinian credibility in the eyes of the United States, the Europeans. The terrorists are killing the Palestinians politically. They may cause us some troubles physically, but politically, they are killing themselves.
DONAHUE: A major Israeli newspaper has you watching the president’s
speech and saying, quoting you, sir-”He is making”-he, President Bush
” “is making a fatal mistake. Making the creation of a Palestinian state dependent on a change in the Palestinian leadership is a fatal mistake.” Shimon Peres, did you say that? You were misquoted again?
PERES: You have an expression, read my lips. In that case, the journalists have read my face, which is very hard to read, by the way.
DONAHUE: You wouldn’t say that?
PERES: But I think I said something else. I said that until now, we have had a tunnel without seeing the light at the end of it. Now we have a light, we have to build a tunnel. In other words, I told that we have now a great deal of work to be done by all of us in order to reach the vision of the president, which I agree completely with, namely to have a solution of two states in a matter of three years, giving the Palestinians respect and independence. Because I believe that a good neighbor is better than a good gun.
DONAHUE: Yes. You have condemned the bombing in Gaza City that killed the bad guy and got nine babies with it. Ari Fleischer used the euphemism “heavy-handed” to describe this action. You think it was worse than that, don’t you?
PERES: Unfortunately, in every war, you have mistakes. The greatest mistake is war itself.
DONAHUE: We knew-that was an F-16. It was an apartment building. Mr. Foreign Minister, I respect you, sir, and I do not want to badger you, especially since we give you so little time. That is not a mistake, to fire a missile into an apartment building at midnight.
What, this terrorist is the only guy sleeping in that building? It is not a mistake. It was a direct action that you knew would cause civilian deaths.
PERES: I don’t feel as lonely as you are trying to say, because most of our leaders and most of our generals did say, would they know the results of the bombing, they would never do it. And mistakes happened in Kosovo, elsewhere. I mean, I wish we would have-we wouldn’t have a war. And if we have a war, we could have done it in such a way that no mistakes occur.
DONAHUE: In the seconds we have left, another unfairness heaped upon you by media, Yitzhak Rabin’s daughter has resigned-has resigned her post in the Israeli government, in protest over Sharon’s policy. Why don’t you do that?
PERES: Because I am asking myself, where can I serve better our people and peace, in the parliament as delivering speeches of opposition, or in the cabinet trying to improve things, or to add elements to the present situation.
Right now we are talking with the Palestinians. And in spite of all the terror, the death, the dangers, we are having a dialogue with the Palestinian people to improve the conditions in the territories and to build carefully, maybe, parallel to the war against terror, a new world of understanding.
DONAHUE: Mr. Foreign Minister, I have only time to thank you. Shimon Peres, a public servant, to be sure. And a Nobel laureate at that. Thank you, sir, for giving us your time.
PERES: Thank you very much.