Back from the grave. A transcript of Yasser Arafat’s last television interview is unearthed.

24 September 2020 By Paul Martin

It was conducted in Ramallah by editor-in-chief of correspondent.world Paul Martin along with intrepid Swedish author and war reporter Maria Cedrell.

The interview sheds a significant light on the uprising that Arafat led in which thousands of Palestinian and Israeli lives were lost and, analysts on all sides say, no political or strategic benefit was gained by the people Arafat led.

There were some dangerous aspects to interviewing Arafat.

At 2 minutes 34 seconds of a highlights (or lowlights) video , the top Australian Broadcasting Corportation (ABC) reporter for 60 Minutes describes how she and her team were threatened with violence if they asked Arafat qustions to whivh he objected. In his final TV interview, Arafat also accused one fo the two interviewers (Maria Cedrell) of being an agent of Israel when she asked two tough questions.


WTN / WORLD NEWS & FEATURES


00.02.01 
Paul Martin: The intifada has gone on for three years, what chances are there this will now end? 


00.02.04 

Yasser Arafat (Palestinian President): They are declaring, this government that Oslo had died – not me, Sharon himself had mentioned this, insisting to say what had been signed between me and my partner Rabin, Oslo agreement in the White House under the supervision of President Clinton & with the participation of the whole world / they are saying now there is no Oslo agreement. 

00.02.51 
YA: The road map which had been offered to us by the Quartet committee, we had accepted it, openly, clearly, not only us Arab Palestinians, but it had been accepted by the Arab summit conference and also in the Security Council.


00.03.29 

YA: The peace groups in Israel also were accepting it, but this government, who killed, who are representing the fanatic groups who killed my partner Rabin with who I had signed the peace of the brave, are putting me in this closed prison. 

00.04.07 
YA: They are continuing, they are reserving all our purchase taxes, and we have a real problem every month, how to pay our salaries for our people, for our hospitals and our schools, and all our infrastructures have been completely destroyed and no voice. 


00.04.43 

YA: The Americans went to Baghdad under the big umbrella of uranium, until now, after more than one and a half years, they did not find the uranium in Baghdad, why? we had discovered from the beginning that these fanatic groups who are in power in Israel are using this depleted uranium.

We asked the Quartet committee observers and their technical missions & here, you can have it (shows the report), what is written, the depleted, for you, the American report. 

00.05.50 
Maria Cedrell: Do you accusing the Israelis of using depleted uranium against Palestinians? 


00.05.55 

YA: How this can be done? Why? This is forbidden internationally, against our people. Do you know the cancer has been raised amongst our people, become similar to Nagasaki & Hiroshima, the infertility of our families has been increased, who knows what more will happen against our people from this depleted uranium? We don’t know. This is what we have discovered and this to be silence, no voice? 

00.06.55 
MC: What is your plan now?


00.06.57 

YA: What is the plan? We are insisting, to follow up, the implementation of what we had agreed upon, the peace of the brave. Since Oslo, it was Netanyahu and Sharon, why did they not implement it? 

00.07.36 
MC: What is wrong, why not? 


00.07.38 

YA: You have to ask him, we had accepted all the steps. 

00.07.46 
MC: Why do you think the Americans & the Egyptians tried to eliminate you from negotiations & cut your role?


00.07.55 

YA: No one can replace me, I have been elected by the Palestinian people – (pointing) are you against democracy. (MC: I’m only asking your opinion) (getting angry) Why you are asking me? You are not accepting I am the only President who has been elected under international supervision and you are now asking me this question. You are representing them fanatic groups in Israel or who are supporting them from outside? 

00.08.39 
MC: I believe the world ought to know from you what is your opinion about it. 


00.08.40 

YA: I am elected, I have to respect my people and everyone has to respect this international election, international supervisors, including President Suares of Portugal, President Carter, the Prime Minister of Japan and all the European you are not remembering this, more than 2500 observers. 

00.09.33 
MC: Why do the Americans not like you at the negotiating table? 


00.09.35 

YA: Not to forget that I have signed Oslo agreement in White House and many of our negotiations have been done in the White House / we are asking now for the international observers, the Israelis are asking them to go outside / (the European) they are working very hard to protect the peace. (MC: are you disappointed in the Americans?) Not to forget that the Americans had offered to us with the Quartet committee the road map & now we are waiting for the implementation of the road map. 

00.11.00 
(MC: what is your opinion of the Egypt meeting) 


00.11.01

YA: We have a very good relation with Egypt, with all the arab countries (MC: do you believe they want to remove you from Ramallah to some other place?) I have the right to ask my freedom, but more importantly, not only my freedom, but the freedom of my people, from the crimes of this military escalation against my people, against peace, not only here, the peace of Palestine, the peace for the whole area, not to forget this, this is the holy land. 

00.12.13 
(MC: If they try to press you to leave Ramallah, would you do it?) 


00.12.19 

YA: No one can stress upon me what I don’t want to do. I have the right to ask them, to ask international powers, the Quartet committee, to move again amongst our people, to implement the peace of the brave again which we had started. 

00.12.59 
(MC: Do you ever believe that Sharon is willing to sit down with you & make peace?) 


00.13.04 

YA: Ask him why he stayed with me & why / the agreement between me and him & Netanyahu, the Hebron agreement, why he sent to me on many occasions his son, and I am appreciating this step from him and we are ready for the peace of the brave again / not to forget after the disaster that happened, south of Gaza in rafah, you observe it and the whole world observe it, the peace groups make big demonstrations, more than 200,000, in the square of Rabin in Tel Aviv on what is going on there.

00.14.18 
PM: You keep talking about peace and saying that if there is a full Palestinian state there will be peace in the area, but thousands of people have died in this uprising that you launched three and a half years ago. Do you really want peace, and if so, how are you going to show & prove this to the Israelis? 


00.14.38 

YA: Please ask Sharon about it, they don’t want peace, they are insisting to carry on. (MC: Why didn’t they kill you?) Don’t forget he had mentioned many times, the last one was one of his most important ministers, we will dump him with one bomb, two bombs here, not to forget they were crying, how this all around had been destroyed, even my bedroom upstairs had been bombed, but the most important thing is the peace. In Beirut he was trying to kill me 13 times, he mentioned it openly (MC: why don’t the) who knows? Why are you not asking me about my people (MC: I did) what is important for me is my people who are suffering day and night, who are human beings, who are in the holy land and who are not asking for the moon, who are asking what had been agreed upon from Oslo agreement to the road map, to be implemented. (MC: Without peace, people don’t feel good) Not only us, the peace here, the peace for the whole area, we are ready and we are appreciating too much the efforts of the group of the peace in Israel & we are co-ordinating with them. 

00.17.40 
PM: Are you pleased that Israel is planning to pull out of the Gaza strip? 


00.17.55 

YA: Till now I have not received any new plan. The Quartet committee: after Bethlehem we had agreed upon with the Quartet committee, we send those who are inside the church to Russia & Europe. I have right to ask you why, and re-occupy again Bethlehem and declare it a closed military area, why? / make a big noise about their withdrawal from Bethlehem, why did he not go to the Knesset, reminding you the Oslo agreement with my partner Rabin had been accepted by one vote. 

00.20.00 
PM: Do you see peace coming to this area & under what conditions? 


00.20.05 

YA: This land is the Holy Land, peace will come sooner or later. I am a religious person, this is the land of the whole world.

00.20.45 
PM: When you look back over 40 years of fighting for the Palestinian cause, what are you most proud of, least proud of? 


00.20.55 

YA: the most important thing, that our people are here on this land and, in spite of all the crimes and the military escalations and all the attempts for the transfer by this fanatical groups to them, we are still on this Holy Land, protecting our Holy sacred Christian, Muslim places and for the peace of the brave amongst Palestinians and amongst the peace groups of the Israelis, for our children and their children. 

Ends: 00.21.50


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From Paul Martin
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