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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  July 17, 2020 12:30am-1:00am BST

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has passed two million. the country has been hit especially hard by the disease. many people have blamed presidentjair bolsonaro, who has consistently played down the severity of covid—19. nearly 77,000 brazilians have died from the virus. russia has dismissed allegations that it's attempted to steal research into a coronavirus vaccine — and meddled in last year's general election in britain. the uk, the united states and canada say russian hackers have targeted teams of scientists trying to find a treatment for covid—19. real madrid have won their first la liga title in three years with a game to spare. they beat villarreal in an empty stadium — giving them an unassailable lead over barcelona. the side has won all ten of their matches since spanish football re—started. now on bbc news — it's hardtalk.
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welcome to hardtalk. i'm stephen sackur. it is not clear when or even if israel's prime minister, benjamin netanyahu, will deliver on his pledge to annexe a major chunk of the occupied west bank. even less clear is how the palestinians will respond if that happens. well, my guest today is the palestinian ambassador here in london, husam zomlot. does the palestinian leadership have the vision, the imagination and the credibility to mount an effective response? husam zomlot, welcome to hardtalk.
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you palestinians were preparing onjuly 1st to hear the announcement from the israeli government that they were going ahead with the annexation of a major chunk of the west bank. it hasn't happened. do you have any reason to believe it won't happen? no, i don't have any reason so far to believe it won't happen. the calculus with netanyahu, the calculus in israel is still the same. the net gain for this government is clear for neta nyahu. it's simply a way of assuring his re—elections, his control of the system, dodging criminal charges, and he's been achieving that. also, it serves as a key strategic function, which is destroying the two—state solution, and he's been public about it since he was elected first time in 1996. he's hostile to the very idea of a sovereign, independent palestinian state and it serves a political function, a distraction. i mean, everybody now is up in arms about annexation, when in fact annexation is only one
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of the many acts that has been undermining the peace efforts. everybody is up in arms about him stopping annexation when, in fact, the discussion should be on ending occupation. so now he's comfortable and, therefore, the world did not produce sufficient consequences for netanyahu to stop annexation. you've just given me an answer which dug deep into the politics, as you see it, of mr netanyahu and the israeli government. what you didn't give any sense of there, but i wonder if you appreciate it, is the degree to which for netanyahu and for his government, this isn'tjust a matter of politics, is it? it is a matter of who they believe thejewish people are and what fundamental rights based on law, history and even the bible writes that they have and have a right to pursue. can you imagine a world where such a premise would be the basis of international relations? can you imagine a world where issues
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of land and territory and sovereignty has to do with merits and explanations and emotions and feelings? do you accept the romans to come back and say, "we have a claim on the isle of wight here in the uk, because they started there? do you do you really want to revisit the whole notion of a rules—based international system? why did we establish the united nations? because of the horrors of the second world war. because what we did to each other, because of never again. so we decided to establish rules... i just... the rhetoric i've heard before. i just want to know whether when, for example, danny danon, the outgoing un ambassador for israel, when he says to me, as he did just the other day, when he said, "we cannot annexe what is already ours." when you hear people representing the government of israel say things like that, do you...? is there any room for dialogue? no. and that's what we have been saying. you see, there are two ways to look at this situation.
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either a political legal way, which we, the palestine liberation organization, the plo, the rest of the world have been seeing, defining israel's occupation of the 1967 areas is a military occupation. it is temporary. the international law applies. israel must cease that occupation. that's the political, legal. and hence we entered in various peace processes to find only mechanisms to back—roll that occupation. the second way to look at it is that biblical, religious. but let israel be reminded that 66.7 million israelijews are defining it asjewish land, 0k? out of biblical claims, they forget that they live in between 1.2 billion muslims who define the entire historic land of palestine as an islamic waqf. thatjerusalem was the first qibla, the direction of prayer for all these muslims. they forget that billions of christians also have a claim on the land. and therefore you're talking about armageddon. you're not talking about peace processes. you're talking about
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the word of god. so people like danny danon are dangerous. the fact is, though, ambassador, that danny danon and others close to mr netanyahu can espouse their belief of the legitimacy of what the international community calls annexation, because you palestinians, time and time again over the last few decades, have rejected peace plans which would have given you so much more than you can possibly imagine getting today. it's your rejectionism that has landed you in this place. how on earth have we rejected anything? i mean, the only thing... do you want me to list all the different moments, the different peace plans when the palestinians have rejected and walked away from essentially getting 95%, 97% of what they wanted in terms of occupied land? you know, prison guards need only 2% of the prison area to control the lives of the prisoners. and this is exactly every single
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peace offer that came our way over the last 30 years. today marks the [list anniversary of the first visit of yasser arafat to europe. it was to vienna in 1979, injuly. he met the chancellor there, then bruno kreisky, and the engagement started the pressure by europe and the international community to accept the plo, accept the two—state solution. the argument was, should you arm yourself with international legitimacy and law, you will get a state on the 1967 borders with eastjerusalem as its capital, and all of your historic issues, legitimate issues — like the issue of refugees — will be resolved. that was the argument. so that was never, the two—state solution was never a palestinian demand. it was a palestinian concession to ally ourselves with international law. this moment is more about international system, international order than it is about us. i think we have compromised enough. you were the palestinian representative envoy in washington
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until the trump administration decided it didn't really want you around any more. so here you sit as the palestinian envoy in london. therefore, you know better than me the realities of politics and diplomacy today. donald trump with his peace plan has, in essence, given a green light to benjamin netanyahu to complete this annexation policy. that is a reality that you cannot change. but we can stand up for, and this is exactly why our office was shuttered that it was sent off, not because they didn't like me, but because we, the palestinian people and the leadership, stood up, said, "no. these are the contours. "these are the rules. we will stick with it. "and what you're doing is simply illegal." you cannot give a cover for israel's illegal annexation. and you know, stephen, sometimes in our situation, and you just said that i was the ambassador to the us — i know i was in the crossfire. i know the sheer pressure on us, the palestinian
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people and leadership. to stand up is not a small measure. but the fact is, i'm looking at all of the different european and arab reactions to the netanyahu annexation plan. they're all, of course, saying, "don't do it. "and if you do do it, there will be serious consequences." just to pluck one out of the air, borisjohnson, "i profoundly hope that the annexation does not go ahead. "if it does, the uk will not recognise any changes "to the ‘67 lines except those agreed between both parties." you like all of that. but the bottom line again is that washington is the place that counts. and you've just heard secretary of state mike pompeo say that the us administration no longer regards jewish settlements in the west bank as illegal. that, again, is the diplomatic reality. and we don't accept that. well, you may not accept it... hold on... but unless you have plans to somehow remove donald trump, mike pompeo and the entire team,
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that's the diplomatic reality you live with. if you tell me that trump and netanyahu decides the terms, defines international rules and international law, then we should find that other discussion. that's not the united states behind netanyahu. that's trump. and few, four, of his team in the white house were behind netanyahu. we are also following the huge opposition in the us in the congress, the democratic party, the jewish community, in the civil society, in the media, in the elites, in the think tanks. no, that's not the united states. that's one person that is trump. and, yes, sometimes you cannot be offensive in your ideas and strategies. you have to be defensive. and sometimes you need to protect yourself, protect what you believe in, and ally with the people that you think will one day create better chances. and, yes, we agree with mrjohnson that the 1967 borders is the mark, that nothing should be recognised beyond that, that international rules are very clear. but we also would like to see more actions. and we have been saying this to the government here. neta nyahu will not listen
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out of just statements. he needs to know that there will be severe consequences. and the state of palestine need to be recognised now, because if you don't recognise it now, level the field, give hope about the two—state solution, then if you do that later, it might not serve any purpose. well, i want to come back to diplomatic moves later and the international scene. but i, for right now, want to focus on what you palestinians are going to do next. let us assume, and the israeli cabinet is suggesting it, the annexation plan hasn't been shelved. it may come to fruition in latejuly. we don't know yet. but if it comes to fruition, the palestinian authority, which you represent, seems to be suggesting that it will respond by cutting all funding, all support for its own activities across the piece, from security, through health care, schooling, everything. it seems to be saying, "we will close down as a palestinian authority. "we will not act as an agent of israel "in our own places." what is the point of this self—harm?
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it's a fundamental point. it's a point about definitions. this is not about self—harm whatsoever. it seems perverse. it is going to create the most almighty humanitarian crisis for your own people. you're absolutely right that we should preserve and even, you know, build more of our national institutions, improve our services, our delivery, our consultations and democratic process. but all this was meant... the palestinian authority was meant to take us from occupation to independence. that was the key function — why we, with the international community, established the palestine authority. israel wants the palestinian authority to remain as a service provider under occupation to our people, and therefore it serves israel to maintain the status quo. and we know that we need national institutions. we need the palestinian authority. it does crucial functions in the health arena. look at us today with the coronavirus pandemics. in the education arena, only two days ago, our high
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school certificates. and it's a pride we have one of the highest phd graduates worldwide. but you're talking about abandoning your own people. yes, but... hussein al—sheikh, the official in charge of relations with israel, he says, "if they go through "with the annexation, then they can go back to being "the occupying power throughout the whole west bank." israel cannot have the cake... betrayal of your own people. israel cannot have the cake and eat it, too. our people want one thing. they want liberation, freedom, justice. they are seeking ordinary life... do you think your civil servants and your security personnel want their salaries to be cut? and, you know, not with bread, a human being can only live. we live with dignity. and it's fairly easy for you to say in a comfortable place here in london representing the palestinian authority. what about the tens of thousands of people who will have no salary if the palestinian authority refuses to pay? the tens of thousands of people know that the issue is not economic. they know that they are not poor because of a natural disaster.
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they know that they live and own one of the most rich lands on earth. and by the way, before this all happened, before the foundation of israel, we were one of the richest in the region. and we remain to be one of the riches in the region. this is not an economic issue. well, it's an economic issue for lots of people. what about the gaza strip, for example? the palestinian authority may not care so much about the gaza strip because of course it's controlled by hamas not by fatah. thr truth is... i am a gazan. and by the way... so what do you say...? ido not.... i was born in gaza to a refugee family, and we know exactly what has been happening in gaza. it's primarily an israeli blockade. hang on a minute. when your colleague, hussein al—sheikh, says that they are going to slash the $105 million that the palestinian authority sends to gaza each month to cover things like utility fees, medical fees, everything else. when he says he's going to slash that money because, on principle, he won't operate as an agent of israel, how do you think the people of gaza, with the 53% poverty rate,
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the 50% unemployment, are going to feel it? i'm misreading of this. nothing would be slashed. and the responsibility of the leadership on the people in gaza, in jerusalem, in the west bank, in the refugee camp outside is solid and clear. it is our responsibility. you ask me that i represent the palestinian authority. i don't. i represent here the palestine liberation organization, my office in london is called the plo office. my office in washington was the plo. the palestinian authority has no diplomatic arms. the plo remains to be the umbrella, the institution of the palestinian people. the plo shall continue being responsible on providing for our people in gaza, injerusalem, in the west bank and everywhere else outside, in the refugee camps. the issue is about the palestinian authority as an institution that was meant to last for five years, from 1994 to 1999, as per the agreements we signed with israel, as per the commitment of israel. that five—year period was meant to build the capacity of the palestinian authority to become a full—fledged state. in these 27 years since we last
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signed the oslo agreements, israel has made mockery of all these agreements. the other thing that has been said by officials in the pa is that they will end all security cooperation with the israelis. we have already ended. you've already ended? so we are now talking about chaos. we're talking about insecurity, which could spiral out of control. is it that you want a new intifada? no, this is not what we want. what we want is enough status quo. enough 27 years of israel simply... we are tired. we are sick and tired, stephen, of telling everybody that israel is disingenuous. it's not serious. with every brick it has built since 1993 after signing the peace agreements, and look at it now. we started the peace accords with less than 125,000 settlers. today we're talking about 750,000 settlers. and the extremist government in israel are talking about a plan of one million in less than two years. but what do you think will happen when you withdraw all security
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cooperation with israel? you said you've already done it. the un envoy in the middle east says that he fears that there will be a trigger, conflict and instability will spread across the occupied west bank and in gaza, too. i put it to you again. is that what you want? no. what we want is what the representative of the un wants. we want accountability. we want the implementation of international resolutions. we wantjustice for the young man injerusalem who was killed last month, al—hallaq, autistic palestinian. and this morning, just this morning, his family was told by the israeli authorities injerusalem that the cameras around were not functioning. they requested a copy of the cameras. you know why? because they wanted to shield the killers. stephen, we decided to stop coordination. we announced that we are absolved of all agreements for two reasons. the first, israel has nullified all agreements. the moment it has announced its own government formation,
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from the far right to the left, from the settler movement through the likud to labor, that they will illegally annexe occupied territories, they nullified all the agreements we signed. it's over, so we can not continue committing to this. 0k. so here's where i have a profound problem with your position. you say it's all over. you say there is nobody to talk to in israel. and yet, at the very same time, your only strategic offer appears to be to get mr netanyahu to reverse course on the annexation. and then, you say, according to your senior officials who've just put this in writing, you want to go back to the negotiating table, you want this so—called quartet, the international powers, to become involved and resume a negotiating process which you've just said to me in the course of this interview has got you precisely nowhere over the last 27 years. what kind of strategic vision is that? well, if for anybody who wants to see an implementation of the two—state solution, here you go, three things. first we need a framework. and that framework has got to be
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the international framework. that's why we came to the peace process. and by the way, this whole international resolutions was a pressure by israel. israel wanted a two—state solution. with respect, you say you want to go back and have the international community involved. but donald trump, you've said in highly personal comments, has blown up the entire peace process. he's killed oslo. you've accused him of the most heinous political crimes. and now you say you want the quartet, which, of course, involves the united states, to oversee new negotiations with mr neta nyahu. it seems to me, and i dare say to many palestinians, that your strategy doesn't make sense. you see our strategy. we had a strategy. the strategy was two states based on international legitimacy and that the world will come, will guarantee it. we will move to it. that strategy has failed because of israel. let me quote you the key line from the palestinian authority message to the quartet that was released just a few days ago. "we palestinians," it says,
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"are ready to resume "direct bilateral negotiations where they stopped in 2014." that means, after everything you've said to me about mr netanyahu, about his motives, about what he's done, about what israel is doing to the palestinian people, you are simply prepared to go back and resume negotiations. your own people are going to say, "what on earth is the point? who are you kidding?" no. if international framework is the reference, if there is a multilateral mechanism for mediation... not the us. the us has been discredited. ..and should this process has a timeline, i believe this is to our interest. we are oriented towards a solution. we are not fatalists, stephen. we are the ones who are losing our kids by the day with no accountability. we are the nation that is losing its land by the day. yes, of course we want a solution, but not any solution. you're saying we're not just rejectionist? isn't the truth that you're led by a man, mahmoud abbas,
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who's been in power since 2005? his term in office actually expired in 2009. he no longer has any democratic legitimacy. he isn't accountable. he's been accused of cronyism and corruption for years. "there is at the heart of the palestinian leadership," and i'm quoting hani al—masri here, the head of the masarat think tank in ramallah, "a sense that the leadership is working in a haphazard way "without a clear strategy." that's what it looks like. seriously. we just blame the victim all the time. but this is a palestinian saying this. i can quote you other palestinians. we think... diana buttu, a former member of the negotiating team says it's that the palestinians are acting like they have no legitimate counterproposals to put to an end this israeli occupation. what counterproposals? we have made the biggest counterproposal in our history. it took us so many years, the ‘60s, the ‘70s, the ‘80s, to come to terms with the counterproposal that was brought to us by the world, that we must accept a state
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on 22% of our land. and you know what? this annexation thing is an opportunity. actually, it serves some useful functions to revisit everything we have done. and it's going to take us time. from the balfour declaration of the uk in 1917, promising ajewish homeland in palestine, and at the timejews owned 2%, to the partition plan of 19117 offering israel 40...55% when in fact they owned 70%. and it took us so long to accept the two—state solution. don't expect us to come up with a strategy instantly. what diana buttu is getting to is that... we need to consult our people. not this figure or that figure. hang on a minute. we need to go back in a democratic process and tell our people, "here you go. here we are "and let's go together to a new destination." do you still believe in this tired old phrase, the two—state solution? i don't think israel is interested in any solution, be it one state or two... with respect, i asked you whether you believe
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in a two—state solution. i believe that a two—state solution on the 1967 borders would have provided a beginning for addressing the real issues. she.. what... equity, justice and the different interaction between the two sides. yes, i considered ending israel's occupation, establishing a sovereign state to be a milestone in ourjourney as two communities to actually build a different future. polling across the palestinian territories shows support for the two—state solution at its lowest since surveys began around the time of the oslo accords in 1993. huge numbers of gazans in particular have left and left for good, it seems. 35,000 last year went through egypt and didn't return. 150 young doctors in gaza appear to have left and made new lives overseas. it looks like young palestinians in particular have lost faith
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in the notion that there ever can be this two—state solution. can you blame them? i mean, they are there. they see everything on the ground. they see the encroachment of the settlements around their houses. they see the unabated colonial exercise that is intending not only to take over the land, but to replace the people, the palestinian people. you can't blame them. but this whole thing, one—state, two—state, stephen, is a distraction. it's a distraction. the reality is we are still under military occupation. colonial expansion that is not seeing us as part of the land. we are still besieged in gaza. you know, during the coronavirus, we tried to distribute food in israel. we have 350,000 residents, palestinians. and anybody who would voluntarily distribute food would be arrested by israel. this is the reality. the reality is grave injustice. we need to think about how do we stop these injustices. i now care less as a person about the form of the solution. i want these grave injustices that
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have lasted for 100 years to stop. husam zomlot, we have to end there. thank you very much for being on hardtalk. hello again. well, some places stayed cloudy on thursday. there was more sunshine more widely, and it was a warmer day as well. the temperature reached 26 celsius in hampshire during the afternoon. well, the temperatures weren't far behind actually in the north east of scotland, helped by over eight hours of sunshine. let me set the scene for you, because at the moment, we've still got warm and humid air
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across the uk. that weather front is bringing some patchy rain and drizzle. to the north of it, it's cooler, fresher air. that will move southwards over the next few days as the band of cloud and patchy rain moves southwards. and that rain is pushing its way down into scotland and northern ireland. england and wales still dry early in the morning. quite warm and humid start to the day. that cloud and mostly light rain will continue to trickle southwards across scotland, across northern ireland, eventually into northern england and later into north wales. to the north across northern scotland, it'll brighten up. there'll be some sunshine. not quite as warm as it was on thursday, but still 20—21. further south, there's a rain band across england and wales, some sunny spells, turning out to be quite warm. 26 or even 27 in the south east of england. now, that weather front bringing that cloud and rain will continue to move southwards overnight and into the start of the weekend. it's a painfully slow process, mind you, and we'll see that rain moving away from much of northern england as it heads into wales, through the midlands, perhaps lincolnshire and eventually the south west of england. the rain does tend to die out in most places.
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still dry towards the south east, still quite warm here. temperatures perhaps 2a degrees or so, but further north, we've got that cooler air moving down and temperatures will continue to just drop away a little bit. for the second half of the weekend, we see that weather front continuing down towards the south east. as it arrives here on saturday night, the rain could turn steadier and heavier. once that rain clears away, we're all getting into that cooler and fresher air from the north—west. but still some rain to begin with on sunday morning across east anglia and the south east. once that clears away, we'll have some sunny spells. maybe a few showers around, mostly towards the north west of scotland. many places will be dry in the afternoon, but the air is cooler and fresher everywhere. we've got temperatures typically 16—20 celsius. that's a little below par for this time of the year, and we'll keep those sort of temperatures for the early part of next week. maybe one or two showers around, but many places, i think, will be dry. we're going to find some spells of sunshine at times. goodbye.
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