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Ban Ki-moon on Haiti Recovery Efforts; Tzipi Livni on Peace Process

Aired January 18, 2010 - 15:00:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, the struggle to sustain survivors in Haiti. Amid a surge of relief, how to unclog the pipeline. The U.N. secretary general is just back from there, and we'll have an exclusive interview.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour, and welcome to the program.

This week, we focus on the devastation in Haiti, just one of the major global challenges facing President Obama after his first year in office. And later, we'll have an exclusive interview with the Israeli opposition leader, Tzipi Livni, on the Middle East peace process.

But first, it has been six days now since a major earthquake devastated parts of Haiti. And still basic supplies like food and water have yet to reach tens of thousands of victims. Emergency relief, including medicines, piling up at the airport have yet to make their way to towns and villages around the earthquake zone.

The U.N. secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, flew to Haiti on Sunday to assess the situation.


BAN KI-MOON, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY GENERAL: We cannot waste one minute, one dollar, and one person. We cannot have vital supplies sitting in warehouses.


AMANPOUR: And the frustration has been growing on the streets, something that many Haitians have been voicing for days.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't see them, so I don't know where -- where -- where they've put them, but I don't see them. Can you imagine that, four years ago (ph). So we don't have anything to eat, even have -- we don't even have some water to drink. That's -- it's a big problem, so we need -- we need food. We need something to drink. I'm speaking to you. I am hungry. I need food. I need something -- I need some water to drink.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many days have you been here?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And have you had any food?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Haven't any food, any water, nothing.


AMANPOUR: The U.N. is calling this the most difficult logistical challenge it's ever faced in a humanitarian crisis, but it's certainly not the first one to face the international community. Back in 1991, massive amounts of air -- of aid were airdropped to Kurds fleeing Saddam Hussein right after the Gulf War. And a few years later, relief supplies were again airdropped into besieged towns and villages during the Bosnia war.

Joining us now, right after his tour of the earthquake zone, is the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon.

Thank you for joining us.

BAN KI-MOON, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY GENERAL: Thank you very much. It's a great pleasure.

AMANPOUR: You heard that woman desperately saying, "I am hungry. I'm thirsty." What is happening? Why can't you get basic food and water to her?

BAN: I met many people, ordinary people, in main plaza in front of devastated presidential palace. I heard their concerns, and I told them that I'm here you help you, food and water. The United Nations is organizing massive humanitarian assistance.

AMANPOUR: You're in charge, right? The U.N. is in charge, is that correct?

BAN: Yes, United Nations has been playing a primary coordinating role, and we will continue to do, in close coordination with the major international community, including particularly the United States.

AMANPOUR: All right. Well, let's take it block by block. There are thousands of U.S. troops coming right now. The airport seems to be receiving thousands of tons of aid, but it's not getting out in sufficient quantities and quick enough. How to unblock that pipeline?

BAN: We are now trying to create structured system to effectively and coherent to a -- to deliver this assistance to needy people. We should not waste even a single dollar, single item of relief. This is what we are going to create, a cluster system (ph) in every directions, like water and sanitation, food, shelter, and logistics.

AMANPOUR: Yeah, I understand that.


But I guess what I can't figure out -- and people are having a really hard time figuring it out -- why, when there is so much at the airport, so much coming in from the Dominican Republic, so much on ships out to sea, it's not getting to the people? Why are, for instance, helicopters not being used to airdrop pallets of aid?

BAN: I have...

AMANPOUR: It can be done.

BAN: I have requested American government to provide as many transport helicopters, which they are doing. I have requested the European Union (inaudible) at this time, considering the magnitude of this humanitarian disaster, we need as many transport possible. We are now opening five road...

AMANPOUR: Roadways.

BAN: ... corridors. We are now trying to improve our port facilities. I am gratified to U.S. government, upon my request, that they are now improving port facilities in a -- a very relative short period of time. This will be extremely important.

AMANPOUR: And where are the -- what is the most critical thing that - - that you can do right now, the most effective thing that the U.N. can do?

BAN: First of all, we have to create effective system, framework, in close -- close coordination with international community. We have to have as many items as possible. We need at least to feed 2 million people in about a month time. United Nations World Food Programme is going to provide and feed 2 million people in about a month. This will include -- maybe within 15 days, we will feed 1 million people.

AMANPOUR: In terms of the -- the Haitian government, is there a Haitian government that can in any form or fashion take a lead or take a major role in the logistics and the coordination?

BAN: Of course, this...

AMANPOUR: Because all their ministries have been devastated.

BAN: ... sovereign, primary sovereignty should rest with Haitian government. I met President Preval yesterday. And I told him that we are here to assist your government.

Of course, major government institutions have been devastated, including presidential palace. That is why we are there, to help strengthen and rebuild the institution-building.

AMANPOUR: But can you tell me, because, obviously, some of the Haitian officials have admitted that they are incapable of doing this because of the devastation, because of how it's hit the ministries. Do you think Mr. Preval -- why is he, for instance, not talking to the Haitian people? He can give interviews to foreign journalists, but the Haitian people are saying that they haven't heard from him.

BAN: I'm sure that he will address the nation, and my special representative, Edmond Mulet, is now coordinating very closely with the president and particularly prime minister (inaudible) he -- they are now in charge, creating an institutional framework.

AMANPOUR: OK, another problem that we've heard of is sometimes U.N. doctors, sometimes other teams are being slow to get out to where they're needed the most because of a lack of security. I mean, do these humanitarian relief workers have to wait for security before they can push out into the hinterland or before they can establish a hospital for the night?

BAN: United Nations peacekeeping forces in the amount -- in the range of 3,000 soldiers and police are taking control of this peace and security and (inaudible) order. Now, this afternoon, I have requested Security Council to increase 2,000 soldiers and 1,500 police, to take charge of all this security, to help humanitarian assistance be delivered in a safe way.

AMANPOUR: OK. We know how the international community works. The U.N. is simply the aggregate of its member states. How long will it take to get those extra police, extra troops there, do you think?

BAN: I am very moved and touched by such overwhelming support from international community. Whole members of the international community have been rushing to give helping aid to Haitian people. How to organize all this aid in a coherent, effective way, that will be a challenge. That's what I'm doing, in close coordination with American government and other European states.

AMANPOUR: Did you go to any distribution center yesterday? Did you see firsthand what the challenges were?

BAN: I have not visited the distribution center because of my brief stay in -- on the ground, but I have met many people on the ground, and I have met many agencies, United Nations agencies, and I had very good meeting with Preval -- President Preval and U.N. leadership.

AMANPOUR: Now, I understand there's a lot of official work going on. You're having meetings. Other presidents and prime ministers are having meetings and galvanizing aid. But back again to the people who need it, what can be done immediately to open roads, to try to airlift where -- you know, if it can't be driven -- what can be done immediately to improve the delivery of aid?


BAN: Now, this is, again -- effective coordination, that's a great challenge at this time. Now we are (inaudible) considering this magnitude and the extent of what devastation. You can understand. I know that there is a frustration amongst Haitian people, but when I met them, from their faces, I have seen that they have great hope and they are great, resilient people. And I told them that to be more patient, because whole world are standing behind -- behind them.

AMANPOUR: You -- the United Nations -- have lost the most civilians, the most peacekeepers ever in one go. Tell me about that.

BAN: That was the hardest thing for me as a secretary general. And we have lost at least at this time 46 staff. I fear the number may increase in the coming days. Yesterday, when I came back from Haiti, I brought the remains of my special representative, Hedi Annabi, and his deputy. It was a heartbreaking experience for me.

It is the greatest single loss for the United Nations in its history. However, we are united. We are committed to carry on our duties, to help those people. This is the United Nations. United Nations is at its best at this time.

AMANPOUR: Would you tell me how long you think you have to be able to unblock the clogged pipeline? Is it 12 hours, 24 hours?

BAN: We are in an initial stage of this coordinating and organizing effective way of delivering aid, and we have to work for (inaudible) recovery, bringing in all this water supply and sanitations and power supply and communications, that we have to work for middle, longer term reconstruction.

Now, international community is already organizing and talking, discussing this matter. So we will have reconstruction conference. United Nations has issued a fresh appeal in the amount of $572 million. This assistance is very generous and outpouring. And I'm very much gratified.

But this is not enough. We need much more.

AMANPOUR: We'll keep watching. Thank you very much for joining us, Mr. Secretary General. Thanks a lot.

BAN: Thank you. Thank you very much.

AMANPOUR: And coming up, one team scrambling into action, pulling survivors from the wreckage of a building in Haiti comes from the Israeli military, representing a region better known for armed conflict than earthquake relief. We'll examine the legacy of the Gaza war, which ended a year ago today.



AMANPOUR: President Barack Obama has made Haiti a U.S. priority. And since this week marks one year since his inauguration, we'll focus on the long-term promises he's made to Haiti, as well as the other global challenges that he faces, from his outreach to the Muslim world to deciding what to do about Guantanamo Bay prison.

But tonight, on the one-year anniversary of the end of the war in Gaza, we look at the troubled Middle East peace process, which President Obama has also made a center point of his foreign policy.

And from Jerusalem, we have an exclusive interview with Tzipi Livni, head of the Israeli opposition party Kadima. She had served as foreign minister during the previous Israeli administration throughout the Gaza war.

Ms. Livni, thank you for joining us from Jerusalem.


AMANPOUR: Let me ask you, it's a year since the Gaza war. There's still a huge amount of controversy over it. What about lifting the Israeli blockade on Gaza? How come that hasn't happened one year later?

LIVNI: The idea of the military operation was in order to stop terror. And there is no dispute today, especially not in Israel, that the operation in Gaza regained deterrence. And Israeli civilians that couldn't live in the places which are close to Gaza Strip can live and have peaceful life.

AMANPOUR: So does that mean that the blockade will stay on?

LIVNI: The blockade on Gaza -- yes. But it's important to say that, when it comes to humanitarian needs, the gates are open.

AMANPOUR: Obviously, there's some humanitarian aid getting in, but there's, for instance, construction materials, all sorts of things that it needs to stand on its feet are not getting in. But I want to ask you, should Israel now, a year later, negotiate a full cease-fire with Hamas in exchange for lifting the blockade?

LIVNI: No, I don't think so. Basically, Hamas doesn't represent the national aspiration of the Palestinians. I believe that Israel needs to re-launch negotiations with Fatah, with the legitimate Palestinian government, with those who represent the legitimate aspiration of the Palestinians for a state of their own.

Hamas represents extreme religious ideology. Religious conflicts are unsolvable. And in this region, when the division is between extremists and moderates, we need to act in a dual strategy, on one hand, to act against terror, not to give legitimacy directly or indirectly with Hamas, to Hamas, and to continue the dialogue with the moderates, with the pragmatic leadership of the Palestinians.

AMANPOUR: You know the Palestinians say that a complete halt to settlement activity is -- is vital. You know the president, Barack Obama, and this U.S. administration started by saying that a condition would be a complete halt to Israeli settlement activity. What do you make of the fact that the U.S. President Obama made that his initial condition? Now it's no longer a condition.

LIVNI: Listen, it's not for me -- you know, to make opinions on this. But just to give you an example about the situation that we had about a year ago, we had negotiations with the Palestinians. We built trust. They understood that the Israeli government -- anyway, the former Israeli government -- wanted to achieve peace, and we are willing to make the concessions which are needed in order to do so.

And we believed that this is -- this is the same -- or this is what the Palestinians are standing, also, in order to end the conflict.

AMANPOUR: Do you think it could be done in two years?

LIVNI: So talking about...

AMANPOUR: If it starts, do you think negotiations can end in two years?

LIVNI: Less than that. Oh, yes.

AMANPOUR: Like Mitchell said?

LIVNI: Oh, yes. I think that -- I don't want to -- to refer to timeline. I mean, I negotiated with the Palestinians for nine months. And we had some achievement in this negotiation.


So it's not a -- not a matter of time. It's a matter of an understanding of by both sides, by both leaders, that time works against those who believe in two states for two peoples, that we cannot afford a situation in which the conflict transfers from -- or being transferred from a national conflict to a religious one, that we cannot afford to give excuses for radical elements in the region to recruit or to have more support in different part of this -- of this region.

So I believe that this needs to be started now, and the question of timeline is less important, as long as the two leaders -- two leaderships understand that time is of the essence.


LIVNI: There is no need to -- you know, to waste more time or to have a dialogue for a dialogue. It's time for decisions.

AMANPOUR: Let's go back to the Gaza war a year ago and the fallout from that. You've said the blockade will continue. As you know, the Goldstone report has said that Israel used disproportionate force and has called for an inquiry and has called for Israel to -- to -- to sort of hold accountable those who were responsible. Why is it that Israel will not hold a public inquiry? And do you think that it should?

LIVNI: Basically, I cannot accept any comparison between Israeli soldiers and these terrorists. I mean, there is no -- and this is something that Goldstone made in his report.

During the operation in Gaza -- and, as you mentioned, I was a decision-maker there -- and we took all the necessary steps in order to avoid civilian casualties, even though it's not easy when this is highly populated place, when terrorists hiding among civilians.

AMANPOUR: Ms. Livni? Why is it that Israel has not held and has not made any move to hold a public inquiry, a public investigation into these allegations? Even your own ex-justice minister, Barak, is saying that there should be such a probe of some sort. Why not?

LIVNI: There are -- there are different views on this in Israel, and I think that there is now a process of decision-making in the current Israeli government whether to take this or not.

But since I was there during the operation and I know what was done and the -- well, it's the military, and it's not public inquiry, but they checked all the different cases that also Goldstone referred to. And it's important for me to say whether there's going to be or not going to be an inquiry. The morality of the Israeli soldiers, for me, it's not in question.

Since I'm not going to accept all these comparisons between Israeli soldiers and terror, I think that this is part of the answer that Israel needs to give publicly.

LIVNI: But as I said before, there is now the internal discussion on this, in Israel, and the only question for me is whether this kind of an inquiry can give the support and can defend Israeli soldiers when they leave the state of Israel and visiting other places.

AMANPOUR: Well, I was going to ask you -- let -- let -- let me ask you, because there was an arrest warrant potentially out for yourself. Israeli leaders, even Defense Minister Barak have been likened to war criminals. There's a controversy going on in Turkey right now. Are you worried that, if you leave Israel and come to London or other such places in Europe, that you could be arrested?

LIVNI: Well, yes, this -- it's not -- it's not my worry on a personal basis. In a way, I would like this to have, in a way, maybe even a test -- a test case, because I'm willing to speak up and to -- to speak about the military operation in Gaza Strip to explain that Israel left Gaza Strip, we dismantled all the settlements, we took our forces out, Israel was targeted, we showed restraint, and at the end of the day, we needed to act against terror, and are willing to say so, including any court in London or elsewhere. But...


AMANPOUR: So you're saying you're willing to be arrested as a test case?

LIVNI: For me, this is not a question. I mean, yes, the answer is yes. I am -- I know that the decisions that we made were crucial to give an answer to Israeli civilians that couldn't live in the south part of Israel and later or even also in different parts of Israel. It was part of my responsibility, and this was the right answer. And I'm willing to spend for (ph) these reasons and to explain this to -- to the world and to any court.

But part of our responsibility is also to give -- or to defend the Israeli soldiers and officials that worked according to our decisions in the government. And if an inquiry helps them, this is fine, so I can support an inquiry, as long as this helps them.

It's not about me.


It's about the Israeli soldiers, because I want them to leave Israel and to feel free to visit different parts of the world according, you know, to -- like any -- like any other citizen of the free world and any other soldier...


LIVNI: ... and fight for the values of the free world in different parts of the world.

AMANPOUR: On that note, Tzipi Livni, head of the Kadima Party in Israel, thank you so much for joining us.

LIVNI: Thank you. Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And after the interview, Tzipi Livni told me that she did not plan for now to join the coalition government of Benjamin Netanyahu, nor does she know whether there were any plans to restart the Middle East peace process.

The Middle East is only one of the challenges facing the Obama administration, a set of international crises whose urgency has been compounded by the situation in Haiti, which we will be following all week on this program.

And for more on Haiti, we have an interactive map on our Web site, It pinpoints eyewitness accounts of the earthquake from different parts of the country.

That's it for now. Thanks for watching. And we'll be back tomorrow with the latest on Haiti, including a special report from one of the towns, Jacmel, that has yet to receive any aid. For all of us here, goodbye from New York.