This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, September 23, 2002, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.
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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: President Bush putting some pressure on Israel to ease up. Palestinian and Israeli officials meeting today in an attempt to end the demolition. My next guest spoke to Yasser Arafat just earlier today and says that he's optimistic about the United States' intervention. Joining me now on the phone from Bethesda, Maryland, is Palestinian lawmaker, Hanan Ashwari.
Hanan, thanks for coming.
HANAN ASHWARI, PALESTINIAN LAWMAKER: Thank you, Neil, my pleasure.
CAVUTO: You talked to Arafat, how does he sound?
ASHWARI: Well, I talked to him and he is certainly seriously concerned about the gravity of the situation. Other than the personal hardships of being in a place that is almost totally demolished and without water, without sufficient food and services. There is a sense that there is collective victimization of the Palestinian people, and there is a specific targeting and scapegoating of Arafat himself. So the situation is extremely critical, and it has dealt a serious blow to the process of reform and to the process of accountability, and cabinet reform that we have been demanding for a long time.
CAVUTO: But didn't the twin terror attacks last week that claimed 10 lives do more to damage that than whatever these actions are?
ASHWARI: Well, certainly, all acts of violence, particularly against the civilians, but all acts of violence are reprehensible, morally, politically, legally in every possible way. But the thing is this is not the issue, because for a long time, for seven weeks, there were no acts of violence against Israelis, and yet the Palestinians would all besieged, were all being made to pay the price. And at the same time, Israel did not accept any political overture, didn't object to the Palestinian initiative to put an end to any kind of targeting of civilians and to re-launch meaningful negotiations. So there is an anti-peace agenda there, and there is an attempt to personalize the issue and to settle old scores. Sharon, as usual, is behaving like a bull in a China shop.
CAVUTO: Well, Hanan, let me ask you just about those terrorist attacks first off, do you think those were either authorized or funded directly or indirectly with any of Yasser Arafat's men?
ASHWARI: Certainly not. We know that those who claimed responsibility for these attacks were the opposition, Hamas, and we have Islamic, not Arafat and not his people. I'm not saying this because I want to personalize or rationalize, I'm saying all attacks should stop. But these were carried out by specific groups that claimed responsibility that Israel knows and identifies. And Israel is in charge of all of the West Bank militarily and in terms of security.
CAVUTO: But Hanan, doesn't that tell you something, that if, let's say you are right and he had nothing to do with authorizing these or influencing these attacks, but he has prior to this said, no attacks, stop the attacks, someone is not listening, at the very least he appears impotent.
ASHWARI: Of course somebody is not listening because the situation is impossible, it is unendurable when you have a whole nation in captivity, when you have curfews, when you have Israeli military closures, and you have a siege and you have tanks on every street. And Arafat himself is being held captive. He is besieged. He hasn't left his compound since last December. What do you expect him to do? So, on one hand Israel continues to provoke, continues its acts of violence and violations against a whole nation. And you're expecting Arafat, who is an elected leader of the Palestinians, to crack down, to put an end to all acts of violence by the Palestinians when Israel continues its policy of unbridled violence against a whole population. That is a problem, both sides have to stop. This blood bath has to stop. And we need third party intervention.
CAVUTO: But can you blame some of the Israelis, Hanan, from looking at this saying, just when we thought we could believe this guy, that the attacks would stop, they started again?
ASHWARI: Well, that is looking at it from one side only. I mean, he has condemned the acts of violence. He has condemned suicide bombings. He's called on the Palestinians to stop. On the other hand many Palestinians are saying the Israelis are acting without any restraint or accountability. And that is the problem. Let's deal with the issue of the occupation. Let's bring about some kind of calming down on both sides. You cannot victimize the nation and expect them to lie down and die quietly like sheep.
CAVUTO: All right. And around and around we go. Hanan Ashwari, thank you very much, on the phone with us from Bethesda, Maryland. All right, now let's get the Israeli side of this and what to make of these latest moves and whether there is any progress being made in Ramallah. On the phone with us now, the former Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. He joins us on the phone from Jerusalem.
Mr. Prime Minister, thanks for joining us.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, FMR. ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Good evening.
CAVUTO: What did you think of what Hanan just said?
NETANYAHU: It's nonsense. It's hogwash. It's the usual junk, political junk. We are not just there because we are taking over Ramallah, or just unintentionally or with no cause we are dismantling the buildings around Arafat's compound. We are there because for the last two years, Arafat has either directly ordered terrorist attacks, including suicide attacks against us, or indirectly facilitated the attacks of Hamas. And he has not lifted a finger against them. He either discharges terrorist acts or he acts not at all to prevent them. And in fact, he is one of the responsible people, the most responsible, not the only responsible, Hamas is also responsible., but in taking action Israel is perfectly justified in taking action against him and his regime.
CAVUTO: But Mr. Netanyahu, what if he can't control it? what if he can't control it? At the very least then he looks impotent.
NETANYAHU: Well, I'm not saying that he can control everything. I'm saying we should throw him out. You know, it is like, does Mullah Omar control of the Taliban, the leader of the Taliban regime, did he control everything that Al Qaeda did? Probably not. Who cares? They did enough terror on their own to be thrown out. Israel shouldn't be responding, and I hope it isn't, just to a single terrorist act. It is not tit-for-tat. There is a terrorist war against you. When you have a war against you, and an army shooting at one point in the front, you don't necessarily respond just to that particular soldier. You seek the enemy. This is a terrorist enemy. It is the same techniques that are used against the United States. It's the same mentality that has attacked Americans, that is attacking us. The same suicide bombing techniques, the same mad mentality, the same corruption, the same dictatorship, so it has to go. We have to do I think what you did, we're late in the game And I'm not sure that laying a siege on Arafat is what's important. What we have to do is kick him out. You kicked out the Taliban regime. We should kick out Arafat's regime. And I fully agree with Hanan Ashrawi only on one point, we should also kick out Hamas, the fact is both of them are a carrying out terrorism and both of them have to...
CAVUTO: But let me ask you something, is any of this complicating our own moves potentially against Iraq? You know, Ariel Sharon has already made it clear that if any Scud missiles from Iraq make their way to Israel, Israel would respond and attack, unlike what it did 11 years ago. Do you support that?
NETANYAHU: Well, yes, I think Israel should respond if attacked. But the nature of the response, the extent of it and so on is something that will be considered I'm sure carefully by any Israeli government. Look, Israel is probably the only supporter in a very large radius, within the Middle East, of the American action in Iraq, unlike the Palestinians who danced, on the roofs, danced in streets, when the World Trade Center was bombed and the Pentagon was bombed, and who joyously calls Saddam Hussein their champion. Israelis identify automatically with the United States, with President Bush's efforts and the American people's efforts to stamp out this danger to the entire world. I think that we want to facilitate that. I think that ejecting Arafat as soon as possible would actually make it easier than waiting until the eve of battle.
CAVUTO: OK. Benjamin Netanyahu, thank you very much.
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