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CNN SATURDAY MORNING NEWS

Interview With Hasan Abdel Rahman, Alon Pinkas

Aired April 6, 2002 - 09:08   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: And joining me once again with their perspectives on the state of the Mideast crisis and the U.S. diplomatic mission to come, Israeli Consul General Alon Pinkas in New York, and joining us now by phone from Washington is Palestinian Representative to the U.S. Hasan Abdel Rahman.

Gentlemen, thanks again for being with us.

HASAN ABDEL RAHMAN, PALESTINIAN REPRESENTATIVE TO THE UNITED STATES: Thank you.

ALON PINKAS, ISRAELI CONSUL GENERAL: Good morning, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Mr. Rahman, I'll have -- we'll begin with you. We didn't get a chance to talk with you last hour or the hour before, so why don't we hear how you feel about Powell's visit, what you expect from Colin Powell, and indeed, do you think it's very important for him to meet with Yasser Arafat?

RAHMAN: Well, we welcome the initiative by President Bush to send Secretary Powell. But I must say that the credibility of the seriousness of President Bush depends on his ability to put an immediate stop on this massacring by Israel of the Palestinians.

I'm sure that the public and your staff is watching the footages coming from Nablus, Ramallah, the refugee camp, where Israel is waging a war of annihilation against the Palestinian people.

If he is going to wait eight more days before demanding from Mr. Sharon to stop this massacre, I think that his credibility and the usefulness of his mission is going to be in question.

PHILLIPS: Mr. Pinkas, you want to comment on that point of credibility?

PINKAS: First, I would look, if I were Mr. Abdel Rahman, I would look up the word "annihilation" before I use it so liberally. He knows that it's not annihilation, and he knows that there are no concentration camps, which he accused us of a few days ago, and he knows that no matter how many lies you can use, at some point people are going to call your bluff.

And part of that is the -- you know, it astounds me, Kyra, to listen that the Palestinians are questioning the credibility of President Bush. I mean, the onus is on Bush from their point of view rather than on Arafat.

It's not about Bush's credibility, and it's not about George Bush's leadership, and it's not about his diplomacy. It's all about Arafat's credibility, his leadership style or lack thereof, and his total failure as a statesman to come up with the major decisions that had to be made a year and a half ago at Camp David.

I say this for the third time this morning. But it all goes back to Camp David, when they rejected an offer made to them, a comprehensive offer made to them that was fair, equitable, reasonable, practical, and realistic, made to them by then-Prime Minister Barak and President Clinton.

PHILLIPS: Zinni and Arafat, General Zinni did meet with Yasser Arafat. Mr. Rahman, let's talk about that, and do you believe that that is one step toward potential of peace here?

RAHMAN: Let me say something about the accusation that Mr. Pinkas launched at me and let fly. I think that no one lies on television more than Mr. Pinkas. And Mr. Pinkas have not said one truth so far in all the time that I have heard him. He twists all the facts, and he, in fact, never addresses any of the facts.

Let's look at the fact of this Israeli invasion of the Palestinians. There is a blanket bombing today of the cities of Nablus and Jenin, and it is on television. I'm not lying. Look at the reports coming from the region.

There are hundreds of people killed, the whole Palestinian population today is under a state of siege. Sick people with (UNINTELLIGIBLE), they cannot go to hospitals. Children, they cannot go to their school. People cannot go to their supermarkets.

There is a state of siege, which is reminiscent of what the Nazis did to Czechoslovakia the Second World War. Mr. Pinkas, regardless of how are you going to paint this aggression against the Palestinians, you stand alone, the whole world is outraged by those war crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinians.

You are going to tell me that the question, the credibility of the mission of Mr. Powell, I did not question the credibility of President Bush or Powell. I said the credibility and the seriousness of the mission, if you do not put an immediate stop on this massacre that's being carried on by Israel today against refugee camps, which are there because of the ethnic cleansing conducted by Israel when Israel was created, you moved everyone who was not Jewish out of Palestine in order to create a place for people like yourself and others who came from Russia, from Germany, from Czechoslovakia, and from Brooklyn, New York, to settle in the country of Palestine.

So don't talk about lying and credibility.

PINKAS: Kyra, what you heard now is an example of a -- the quintessential product of the Pal -- of the beautiful Palestinian education system. You could be wrong, we could disagree, we can have differences of opinion. He may be right, I may be wrong on a whole host of issues.

RAHMAN: But you started accusing me...

PINKAS: But the ignorance -- let me...

RAHMAN: ... of lying.

PINKAS: I'm not accusing you of being lying, I'm just...

RAHMAN: You said that.

PINKAS: ... exposing your lies.

RAHMAN: And therefore you have to watch your words.

PINKAS: Mr. Abdel Rahman, right next to where you live there are bookstores. I suggest you go there...

RAHMAN: Well...

PINKAS: ... and read, and read some, read some, read some history books, Mr. Abdel Rahman.

RAHMAN: Ah, I suggest you read the history books too.

PINKAS: If -- Mr. Rahman, if you avoid listening to Arafat's speeches and reading the writings of Saddam Hussein...

RAHMAN: Hey, listen, don't give me (UNINTELLIGIBLE) about Arafat...

PINKAS: ... perhaps...

PHILLIPS: All right.

PINKAS: ... perhaps...

RAHMAN: ... I don't want Mr. Sharon that. I don't think anybody...

PINKAS: Mr. Rahman, Mr. Rahman...

RAHMAN: ... Mr. Sharon is...

PHILLIPS: Let's, all right...

(CROSSTALK)

PHILLIPS: ... Mr. Rahman, let's let Mr. Pinkas respond. But I must say, I mean, the issue of this violence and the control and who's in charge and who do you turn to, I mean, for the first time this morning, I saw the videotape, and we ranned it. Now the media is being approached by Israeli soldiers and without explanation and wondering what's going on and being forced from certain areas, you're starting to -- you -- it is reaching a point I guess you don't understand until you feel it yourself. And now the media, I think the journalists are really starting to see what is happening there on the ground, and it's hitting them.

PINKAS: Well, part -- you're right. Part of the problem is that in several of those areas, we've declared closed military theater of operations, we're closed to the media. And there were some instances were soldiers pushed journalists back or even fired over their heads, and we apologize for those instances. The last thing we want to do is to prevent journalists from doing their -- to perform their job.

I think that the media, that the media, international media, American media in particular, is gaining almost unparalleled to what we're doing. Otherwise, you'd have to believe Mr. Abdel Rahman that there are executions and ethnic cleansing and Nazi-like operations, and the rest of his inexcusable ignorant remarks.

The media is -- look, this is a military operation, Kyra, it is not a pretty sight. Mr. Abdel Rahman is right, they are under siege. But you know what? It's a price you pay for 75 suicide attacks since Camp David. It's a price you pay when, instead of respecting life, you glorify death and you idealize martyrs.

We don't have any interest in abusing or being unfair to the civilian population there. The last thing we want is to bring about a new generation of people who hate us or people who don't believe in the peace process. These people need to direct their grievances to the leadership that failed them, and I'm quoting President Bush, this is not my own idea here.

PHILLIPS: Alon Pinkas, Israeli consul general from New York, thank you very much. Also Hasan Abdel Rahman, representative to the U.S. for the Palestinian side. We appreciate you both being with us. We'll continue to follow this story, continue to follow debate, taking both sides and adding balance.

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