Shimon Peres, Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, April 4, 2002. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews. 

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: At this point, efforts of peace seem a little bit impossible — that's putting it mildly — dwindling more as Israel's military offensive increases its grip. Earlier today, I had a chance to catch up with Israel's foreign affairs minister, Shimon Peres. I began by asking him if he thinks Israel may be isolating itself within the global community?


SHIMON PERES, ISRAEL FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER: I know that we have a problem, because judging by what one sees on television, you got an uneven impression because, you know, when you have a clandestine organization attacking a legal army, you see the movements of the legal army. You don't see the actions of the clandestine organization.

But we were really left without a choice. You know, in the last month we lost the lives of 126 people, children, women, elderly people, people while praying, people while attending religious dinners, the Passover. And who does it? You know, they send a girl at the age of 16 that hardly understands what's going on around, a boy at the age of 13. They put on him an explosive belt, and tell him to go to kill himself and kill others.

You know, we are returning to an impossible age when you use human life as a sacrifice, for a purpose that can be achieved without it. And, unfortunately, we have had to take measures that we wouldn't like to take. If you could have spare it, avoid it. And even today, we prefer to enter the political talks and negotiation, and if you permit me to say, with my experience, I believe that we can reach an agreement around a negotiating table. There is no need for all this killing, suffering and hatred. It is totally unrational and totally unnecessary.

CAVUTO: But do you feel your government, and especially Ariel Sharon, has put itself in a corner, sir, and that the only solution might be a new government?

PERES: Well, this is too political a judgment. But I believe, right now, the best bet would be that all parties will accept the proper rules of General Zinni. The general is an envoy of the United States of America. He based his proposal upon the Tenet agreement that was accepted by all of us. And when you compare the list of requests that he put before Israel and the Palestinians, you will see immediately that Israel was asked to take some tangible material measures, and the Palestinians were asked to take declarative, atmospheric measures.

We cannot understand why did the Palestinians reject it and I think that the whole world really should tell Arafat, look, if you want to go out of it, if you want to really have a cease-fire, let all parties take the Zinni proposals as they are, without further negotiating, and, without any bazaar, in the political sense.

CAVUTO: Maybe, sir, you need someone higher than Zinni to do that. You would welcome, as some have speculated, one or several of the former presidents of the United States coming, or for that matter, maybe this being bumped up to the secretary of state, that this needs higher level U.S. mediation?

PERES: As far as we are concerned, for us, the problem is not the level of the negotiators, but the content of the negotiation. And we have accepted fully Zinni proposals. I mean, everybody will be welcome to our country. But, I think the real problem today is, again, the obnoxiousness of Arafat. We don't understand why he is intransigent...

CAVUTO: But could I ask you, sir...

PERES: ... since if he really want...

CAVUTO: Could I ask you, would you just prefer Arafat be out of the picture entirely, if not exiled, dead?

PERES: No. I think it is not for us to decide who will be the leader of the Palestinian people. We are not the one to elect him. We are not the one to fire him. And nobody can guarantee that his successor will be more forthcoming or different. So we have to negotiate with the person or the persons that the Palestinians are electing, whether it is easy or difficult. That is a fact of life.

CAVUTO: Finally, Mr. Peres, do you think this is war?

PERES: No. I would call it rather a strike. War means an army against an army. The Palestinians don't have an army and our army is not fighting the Palestinian people. What we are fighting really is terrorists, not a people. And we are facing something which is unprecedented in the confrontation, even in the military sense, namely, the confrontation of suicide bombers.

It is a new experience. It calls for a new strategy. It is extremely difficult and costly, and we really have to tie our hands how to develop right answer to this horrible danger.


CAVUTO: All right. Shimon Peres, the foreign minister and the former prime minister.

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