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Rivlin: 'Palestinians trying to impose peace'

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Rivlin: 'Palestinians trying to impose peace'

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The long awaited UN General Assembly in which the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, presented his request for full UN membership, came and went with very little hope of any change in the Israeli and Palestinian positions.

Mediators from the so called ‘Quartet’ are now trying their utmost to bring the two sides back to the negotiating table, but nothing tangible has come out of it, yet.

Euronews’ Fariba Mavaddat has spoken to Reuven Rivlin, the Speaker of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.

Fariba Mavaddat: “Mr Rivlin, what will it take to bring the Israelis back to the negotiating table with no pre-conditions?”

Reuven Rivlin:

“Of course, we are insisting upon negotiations with no pre-conditions. Of course, one of the conditions is to bring an end to the conflict. We are looking forward, and we are eager to find peace, not illusions because we had in the last 25 years a lot of promises that brought us to a lot of illusions and that is very dangerous.”

euronews: “The Quartet in which you have put your trust has made references to the borders of 1967 and also a halt to any settlement activity.”

Reuven Rivlin:

“Well, first of all you have to understand that the problem and the conflict will be brought to an end only between the two parties. There is no way to short-cut the understanding that in order to find a solution, in order to bring to an end the hostility between the Palestinians and the Israelis, both sides have to be able to live together because we are living both of us in the same tiny space of earth.”

euronews:

“The very fact that Mahmoud Abbas referred to a ‘two state’ solution means that he has implicitly accepted the existence of Israel, doesn’t it?”

Reuven Rivlin:

“He accepted two states for the time being. One Palestinian and one state of all its citizens. He is ignoring the understanding, not the demand, the understanding that Israel is a Jewish state. But you have to understand there are two peoples, and there is a conflict between two peoples. Both of them believe they are on the right side.”

euronews:

“We’ll come back to the Jewish state, but let me again go back to the occupied territories. You mentioned that it is the Israelis’ homeland. Why don’t you accept that it is the Palestinians’ homeland too, and that they are entitled to their independent state?”

Reuven Rivlin:

“Of course. First of all, 20 percent of the Israeli population are Palestinians, Palestinian Israelis. Seventeen of them are serving in our Parliament; we are both in the same land. We both believe that this is our homeland. We are living together. No agreement will change the demographical problem and no agreement will change the geographical lines between the two sides. But the Israelis have accepted the Oslo agreement; the Israelis have accepted the Quartet roadmap; and they have accepted the American roadmap.”

euronews: “So does it mean that Israel is prepared to leave the occupied lands, to go back to the borders of 1967?”

Reuven Rivlin:

“We are ready to get to an understanding with Palestinians and to live side by side. Unfortunately, the Palestinians believe that the occupied land is Jerusalem, is Tel Aviv and Jaffa, is the land of Israel. They are not accepting the idea…”

euronews: “I am talking about the West Bank, I am

talking about the borders of 1967.”

Reuven Rivlin:

“Every one, every thing in Israel is the West Bank. You have to understand everything that is situated on the west side of the river Jordan is the west side.”

euronews:

“I am talking about the borders of 1967 as referred to by the Quartet.”

Reuven Rivlin:

“If the Palestinians will believe that to bring to an end the conflict we will have to find a way to really fix the final borders between two sides, then we will have a solution. But if they believe that for the time being, they are ready to accept ’67 in order to really fulfil the ideas of the step-by-step strategy, that afterwards they will talk about the 1948 borders. Then you have to understand we will have problems.”

euronews: “You have to start somewhere…”

Reuven Rivlin:

“Of course.”

euronews: “And you cannot make your decisions on the basis of speculation, or “maybe later”. The fact remains that Israel occupies and holds annexed land occupied after the war of 1967, and that does not legitimise that piece of land as part of Israel.”

Reuven Rivlin:

“Unfortunately, we are not running negotiations with the people of Europe. We are negotiating with the Palestinians. More than half of the Palestinians — the Hamas people — believe that there is no way to recognise Israel at all. When they are ready to bring to an end the conflict, when they are ready to bring to and end the past, when they say: ‘well, we are looking forward to the future’, I am sure that negotiations, direct negotiations will bring us to the understanding that we’ll have to live side by side and with an open border.”

euronews: “It is a two way thing, not “they” but “we” I would say.”

Reuven Rivlin:

“First of all, I demand from the other party only what I demand of myself. Unfortunately, Mahmoud Abbas believes that he can go to the international family of nations and make demands, to avoid, to short-cut, the understanding that we have to negotiate together. They want to impose peace on us, and that is something that we cannot accept at all.”

euronews: “Do you accept that by recognising an independent Palestine, the military arms and extreme activities of Hamas and Hezbollah will be cut?”

Reuven Rivlin:

“I am not so sure. We have learnt, and the experience of Israel shows, that after letting the Hamas people become a political movement, they gained the majority, and are ruling the streets of Gaza. People are saying that in the next election they will rule the places of Judea and Samaria, which means the West Bank.”

euronews: “Making peace requires a lot of courage. Is Israel prepared to exercise and show that courage, and take the final step and put an end to it all?”

Reuven Rivlin:

“Oh, we are praying for that. For the time being we will talk about ’67, afterwards we will talk about ’48, afterwards we will talk about ’47, after that…”

euronews: “Are you prepared to take the first step in a thousand mile journey and withdraw to the borders of 1967?”

Reuven Rivlin:

“If you are asking me what will happen afterwards, after I have withdrawn to the borders of ’67, will I have peace? We will have to decide upon that in the Knesset. But I can assure you that more than 80 percent of the members of the Knesset — I’m not talking about myself — 80 percent of the members of the Knesset will vote in favour of an arrangement that will bring to an end the conflict.”