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OTR Interviews

Israeli ambassador to the US: A lot of people are confused about the nature of Israeli-Palestinian conflict

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 16, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

 

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Amidst the rising violence news today that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with Secretary of State John Kerry next week. And Israel's ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Ron Dermer, joins us.

Good evening, sir. And I realize that they are working on all the last details to make sure this meeting happens, but --

RON DERMER, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: Good to be with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Nice to have you. What do you anticipate a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Secretary Kerry will bring about?

DERMER: Well, hopefully, we'll be able to make it happen. But you may recall last year, you also had sort of mini wave of violence. At that point, they called it the driving the car in Tifata, because there were number of people who will ran over by Palestinians and their cars. And that was also fueled by this lie that Israel was trying to destroy the al- Aqsa mosque.

And at the time, as Secretary of State Kerry, King Abdullah of Jordan and Prime Minister Netanyahu actually met in Amman and they were able to deescalate the situation. So if we could succeed in doing that again, I think that would be good for everybody.

VAN SUSTEREN: For the life of this one -- I mean, this latest round of violence is predicated, as I understand it, upon two lies. One is that al-Aqsa mosque. It's the first and the Jews want to take that over. The Israelis want to take that over.

And the second is that the Israelis executed a Palestinian boy. That didn't happen either. Why is there not -- maybe I'm asking the wrong person. Why is there not a strong condemnation from many nations? At least let's get the facts straight before we get into a fight.

DERMER: Well, unfortunately, Greta, that's exactly what's happening. There is no push back by the international community. They don't call President Abbas out. They don't say, hey, you need to condemn all these terror attacks against Israelis. He hasn't condemned a single terror attack against Israelis. None. For the last two --

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, he did condemn the fire today.

DERMER: OK. Well, that's good that he did it and it should remind people that was a sacred site to Jews, Joseph's tomb, and that was lit up. That was torched.

Now they are making the claim that we are trying to harm their sacred sites, which we're not. Actually, Israel is the only protector of these sacred sites. You know what would happen if Israel were not there in Jerusalem. Do you know what would happen to the old city, to the church of holy sepulcher, what would happen to the western wall, what might even happen to Muslim holy sites, you know, what happen, exactly what the Taliban did in Afghanistan and exactly what ISIS is doing in Iraq and Syria.

We live in an area where the forces of militant Islam are on the march and they destroy all those things that they disagree with and cultural heritage that goes back thousands of years. Israel is different and thank God we're there to protect the religious sites and religious freedom of all.

VAN SUSTEREN: How does this ever end? I mean, is there ever -- I mean, it's like presidential administration after administration after administration here deals with this problem and, you know, Israel is one of our great allies. How does this ever stop?

DERMER: I will tell you how. First of all, people have to stop the confusion about what is the source of the conflict and they have to stop the conflict about what is the source of terrorism. Those are two very separate things.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I think, you know, actually, as I look back, I must say that I don't think I have seen in all these skirmishes and fights and wars, I don't think I have ever seen Israel take the first -- throw the first punch.

DERMER: No. We don't.

VAN SUSTEREN: I know I have never seen -- I have never seen Israel throw -- so I mean, I do find that significant.

DERMER: Look, a lot of people are confused about the nature of this conflict. If you ask most people around the world today, they will say the reason there is a conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is because Israel is in the territories that captured in the 1967 war. They'll say Judea and Samaria, the West Bank, or they'll say for building settlements.

Well, here is the problem. Israel and the Palestinians had a conflict for 50 years between the 1920s and 1967 before there was a single settlement, before Israel was in control of those territories. So what was that conflict all about?

Greta, the conflict is very simple. And the world is basically been putting their heads in the sand for a very long time. And if we want to solve a conflict, we have to deal with it. And that is the Palestinian refusal to accept a Jewish state in any boundary. (INAUDIBLE) Jewish people.

Wait --

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: So then how would you enforce it?

DERMER: One other thing, that's the conflict. But the people are confused about something else. They think that because there is a conflict, there is terrorism. And by that, I mean, the deliberate targeting of civilians.

There are conflicts all over the world. There are political conflicts. There are social conflicts. There are national conflicts. But you don't see people running around with meat cleavers and knives and guns and killing innocent civilians.

13-year-old boy stabbed to death multiple times. A 79-year-old grandmother getting on the bus. The root cause of terrorism is a totalitarian mind set. It is not despair. It is not hopelessness because people like to say that thinking well if we get people another refrigerator or another car, all of a sudden they won't be terrorists.

Terrorists tend to actually be wealthier than the populations they come from. People don't understand that. Terrorism is the product of a fanatical mind set. And what you have in Palestinian society is years and years and years of incitement.

Actually, in some cases, decades of incitement to spread these lies to create a culture that glorifies violence. Who are the heroes within Palestinian society? They're not the doctors, the firefighters, the athletes, the heroes are mass murders. You have public squares named after killers.

The problem that we have is that the world has basically stood on the sidelines, allowed the Palestinians to glorify terrorists and murderers, not said a word about it and then they are surprised that a new generation of Palestinians are raised to become terrorists and murderers.

If we want to actually deal with the conflict and deal with the terrorism, let's go to the root cause of the problem. If we do that, hopefully, some good will come out of this very difficult situation.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ambassador, thank you for joining us. Nice to talk to you, sir.

DERMER: Thank you.