Return to Transcripts main page


Violence Despite Libya's Cease-Fire; Japan Raises Nuclear Crisis Level

Aired March 18, 2011 - 21:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, three explosive flashpoints.

Libya -- President Obama threatens force.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If Gadhafi does not comply with the resolution, the international community will impose consequences.


MORGAN: Gadhafi says there's a cease-fire, but the fighting rages on.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no cease-fire. Please tell the world there is no cease-fire. He is killing people in Misrata now.


MORGAN: Japan's nuclear nightmare -- it turns out the danger is greater than first thought.


NAOTO KAN, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The situation surrounding the accident is still very grave.


MORGAN: And tonight, a man inside the Fukushima plant when the earthquake hit. I'll ask him how he got out alive.

And Israel -- more from my exclusive interview with a surprisingly emotional Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: They're given a pass, the Palestinian Authority. And I say, stop giving them a pass.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MORGAN: And I'll ask the chief PLO representative to the United States if he can make peace with Netanyahu.

This is a special live edition of PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT from London.


MORGAN: Good evening.

We begin tonight with a showdown in Libya. President Obama is warning Moammar Gadhafi the international community will go ahead with airstrikes if Gadhafi does not abide by cease-fire.

CNN's Arwa Damon is in Libya tonight.

Arwa, what do you think is happening now? When do you think we may see some military action?

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Piers, that's what everyone here really wants to know when it comes to that cease- fire that is meant to have been implemented immediately, the moment the U.N. resolution passed. That has not materialized on the ground here, nor has the cease-fire that the Gadhafi government itself declared it was going to be implementing immediately.

We have seen fierce battles raging in Misrata. We ourselves saw and heard some the fighting happening in Ajdabiya. We spoke with fighters as they were coming off the battlefield. They spoke about the intensity of the artillery bombardment.

They even told us about airstrikes, which we could not independently confirm. But if that's the case, it's another clear violation of that U.N. resolution.

One ambulance worker we spoke to said it was so intense they could not reach the wounded or the dead bodies. And so, everyone here wants to know when it is going to be that that resolution, the no-fly zone, any other military action, especially the airstrike that they're looking for, are actually going to materialize.

People fear that the longer the implementation drags out, they feel as if that's just giving Gadhafi a carte blanch to do as he wishes -- Piers.

MORGAN: I mean, it would seem to most impartial observers here that he's calling everyone's bluff as usual, isn't it?

DAMON: Yes, and that's pretty much the way people here feel, too. They feel like he's mocking the world. He's taunting them. He's challenging them to actually take this action against him.

On the one hand, we hear him declaring a cease-fire. On the other hand, we see that the fighting continues to intensify.

Civilian lives continue to be lost. Bearing in mind that these are the civilian lives that that U.N. resolution was intended to protect.

But it is almost as if he's daring the world to take action, and that those who oppose him would tell you it is characteristic of his behavior. He wants to see how far he can push the limits. He feels as if he's not going to come under attack because to a certain degree, he views himself as being completely immune to any sort of justice, any sort of ramifications for his actions.

But the longer it takes for that resolution to be implemented, the more anxious people here grow.

MORGAN: And, Arwa, finally and quickly, if you don't mind, what is the situation in Yemen where more than 30 people were killed today? It seems to be that that's blowing up, as well.

DAMON: It most certainly is, and it is absolutely tragic. There we have an example of yet another regime that is resorting to force to try to bring demonstrators and demonstrations that began peacefully under control. This is yet another situation that is at some point in time going to call for the international community to take even greater decisive actions.

I think what we're seeing in all of these uprisings across the Middle East is the sort of scenario that is going to force global leaders to make a moral decision. Either they side with populations asking for freedom and democracy, or they continue to support dictators in the Middle East.

MORGAN: Arwa Damon in Libya -- thank you very much. And please stay safe there.

Is the U.S. response to Libya's civil war to little too late?

Joining me now is General Richard Myers, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and General Mark Kimmitt, former assistant secretary of state for political and military affairs.

Let me start with you, General Meyers. It would seem that we are very, very close now to airstrikes against Gadhafi. Is that your reading of what's going on?

GEN. RICHARD MYERS, FMR. JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: In reading the president's statement, I think for sure a no-fly zone and perhaps strikes against some of the Libyan capabilities being used against the opposition -- yes, I think that's what you read into it for sure.

MORGAN: I'm going to play a very short clip here from what the president said today.


OBAMA: The resolution that passed lays out very clear conditions that must be met. The United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Arab states agree that a cease-fire must be implemented immediately.

Let me be clear: these terms are not negotiable. These terms are not subject to negotiation. If Gadhafi does not comply with the resolution, the international community will impose consequences. And the resolution will be enforced through military action.


MORGAN: General Myers, there are reports coming out tonight suggesting if there are airstrikes, they'll be a U.S. and NATO combined attack. Is that what you would expect?

MYERS: Well, I think, specifically, what I -- what I've read in a statement, in the president's statement and in talking to others, that the U.S. will provide the enablers, the jamming aircraft, the tanker aircraft perhaps, the airborne radar control aircraft and perhaps some aircraft to map the ground, do the ground radar mapping so they know where the enemy forces are -- the enablers. While the United Kingdom and France and perhaps the UAE will provide the fighter aircraft that will actually do the work. That's -- that looks like how it's shaping up at this time.

MORGAN: And Brigadier General Kimmitt, let me come to you on this. I mean, this is, whichever way you look at it, a risky thing to be doing, isn't it? We've seen various revolutions blowing up in the Middle East in which America has not gotten involved. Clearly, Gadhafi has forced President Obama's hand, but this will not be without risk.

GEN. MARK KIMMITT, FMR. ASST. SECY. OF STATE: No, that's exactly right. It is clear that we're going to be putting coalition airmen at risk. We're going to be putting other people at risk to carry out these operations. There's still some lack of clarity inside this entire mission.

Are we looking at simply a no-fly zone, or are we looking at a protracted air campaign? If the latter, there will be casualties on both sides. And I think that it's important for the president to be very clear with the American people and the leaders of all the nations that will be involved in this that there will be casualties taken and risk that will be undertaken to complete this mission.

MORGAN: General Myers, how much time do we give Gadhafi here? I mean, from all the reports out of Libya from our correspondents, it would seem that his people have carried out various bombardments around the country against the protesters. So, he's clearly just mocking the world. What do you give him, days, hours?

MYERS: I think -- I think the time I've given him -- I mean, I think he's going to continue to attack. I think that's his only strategy, really his only hope. And I think any of these comments that, hey, we're going to abide by the cease-fire, I think your reporters have already said that's -- that's not happening.

So, I don't think you give him any more time. I think he's had enough time. This whole thing has started, you know, almost 30 days ago. And so, time is over.

And I think what President Obama was saying today, it's essentially over. So, I think probably the wheels are in motion to start the first steps.

I think the thing we don't know is what's our end strategy? A no-fly zone in itself, humanitarian assistance, protecting innocent civilians is -- only goes so far as the strategy. There has to be more to our strategy than that. And I'm guessing that's consuming a lot of time at the White House and at the Pentagon.

MORGAN: And, General Kimmitt, I mean, it would seem that the overriding question here is -- yes, we want to protect the people of Libya, but we also want to get rid of Gadhafi. So, presumably, we are looking at a fight to the end of his regime and him, aren't we?

KIMMITT: Well, and that's where I see the contradiction in our plans at this point. We say perhaps a no-fly zone, perhaps an air campaign. We want to say it has to do with the protection of the civilians and it's a humanitarian operation.

But, quite frankly, what many would like to see is let's be -- let's be very clear, regime change.

So, the question is: is a protracted air campaign going to achieve the end state of a regime change particularly when we've said we're not prepared to put boots on the ground? So, there are some mismatches between means and ends. And unfortunately, those mismatches may have the unintended consequences of making this a far longer operation than we'd like to see. And certainly, what most of the people in our nations are prepared to undertake.

MORGAN: General Kimmitt, General Myers, thank you very much indeed.

We're turning now to the other big story of the night: Japan's nuclear crisis. The government now admits the situation at the Fukushima nuclear plant is more dangerous than it first thought.

And here's my colleague, Anderson Cooper, live in Tokyo.

Anderson, they've upgraded the severity of the incident now from a four to a five. What does that actually mean?

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Well, it's essentially, it's kind of retroactive. They're not saying that it's gotten any worse over the last 12 hours that made them up it. They're basically saying based on now their assessment of the data, they were wrong all along, and are more in agreement with what the United States nuclear officials said two days ago when they said the Japanese had been underplaying this and it's actually more severe.

So, they've upped it to a level five on a scale of one to seven on the nuclear scale that they have, seven was what Chernobyl was rated. A five is what the Three Mile Island disaster was rated -- although, you know, most outside observers say what has happened at the Fukushima Daiichi plant is already worse than Three Mile Island. Here, you have a number of reactors that they're having problems with.

And, right now, there's essentially several battles going on. There's the effort to restore electricity, a new electrical cable to reactors one and two. That has not been going as planned. They hoped to do it on Thursday. They hoped to do it on Friday. It's now Saturday morning here. They hope to do it today.

But even if they do, it's not clear if the pumps to pump water and the cooling pumps, it's not clear they will even work if they do have electricity. So, that's an unknown.

The major other thing that's going on, they've been using seven fire trucks manned by Japanese personnel by members of the military and firemen to actually just pump water, regular fire trucks to pump water on to the spent fuel rod cooling pools in reactor number three. But it's not clear how successful that has been. They've -- no way to tell how much water is actually staying in those pools.

And there's a disagreement about reactor -- the pool in reactor number four. The United States two days ago said they believed that spent fuel rod pool was empty of water or had very little water. Japanese officials last night from the nuclear agency here said they believed there was water in that. So, that's an unknown.

But again, it seems like right now the biggest efforts are restoring electricity and trying to cool down these spent fuel rods in reactors three and four.

MORGAN: And, Anderson, very quickly, it was an extraordinary photograph that emerged today of one of the people that owns this plant or runs the plant, who was sobbing as he came out of a press conference as he acknowledged that because they had not, in his view, acted perhaps quickly enough and graded this properly, that it was now a fatal dose of radiation that was leaking and people were going to die.

COOPER: Well, you know, they're saying that basically this level five went all the way back to Tuesday. So, they're kind of looking back now and saying, you know what, since Tuesday, this has been a far more serious issue than we have previously thought. I think it's clear, that man -- those officials are overwhelmed, from TEPCO, which is the company that has been in charge of this operation, which actually runs this plant, and Japanese officials have been frankly overwhelmed.

They haven't requested enough help early on. And early on, they weren't giving out information in a timely way and weren't giving out the right information.

MORGAN: Anderson, thanks very much.

Joining me now is Noriyuki Shikata, who is the spokesman for the Japanese prime minister.

Let me start by offering you obviously our very sincere condolences on this terrible tragedy that's befallen your country -- an earthquake, a tsunami, and now this nuclear crisis. The whole world is watching and praying that you can come through this without further catastrophic loss of life. Can I start by asking you about the current situation at the nuclear plant? Because it would appear that it is more serious than we thought. Is that correct?

NORIYUKI SHIKATA, SPOKESMAN FOR JAPANESE P.M. NAOTO KAN: Well, we are talking about the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. And now, we are intensifying efforts to spray water, pump water into the reactors, especially unit number three. And this is intensive efforts that has been going on.

MORGAN: Then, can we be confident that you know exactly what the situation is, or is it very difficult to properly assess given the dangerous level of radiation?

SHIKATA: Well, as far as we have monitored radiation levels in the vicinity, those figures indicate overall the radiation levels are not as serious as we had expected. But still, we have to watch out how the radiation levels fluctuate.

MORGAN: There has been some criticism today that perhaps the Japanese government hasn't acted fast enough in relation to the nuclear crisis because it's been so overwhelmed. And this would be perfectly understandable by the appalling earthquake and tsunami. And the shocking death toll that came with it.

Do you accept that criticism as valid?

SHIKATA: Well, you know, this is -- the tragic and gigantic disaster, you know, combined with quakes, tsunamis, and nuclear incidents. And we think that this is really a serious situation.

But at the same time, as far as a nuclear power plants are concerned, we are united with operator TEPCO, Tokyo Power Electric Power Company, and the government, and we are working very, very close now.

MORGAN: Can I ask what the situation is now in regard to the Japanese nuclear energy program in general?

SHIKATA: Well, as a matter of our energy policy, nuclear power plants have been very important. And about 30 percent of our electricity is provided from a nuclear power generation. And now, of course, nuclear power plant, electricity is limited now. And we will be discussing how we will review our program in the future.

MORGAN: I realize it's a very unpredictable situation, and this might be an impossible question to ask. But I still want to ask it. Do you have any idea when you may be able to bring these nuclear plants under some kind of proper control?

SHIKATA: Well, we are making every effort to control the situation, and we are assisted by international experts, including the International Atomic Energy Agency and the U.S. experts. And I think that we will be able to overcome by being united with the global experts. MORGAN: Mr. Shikata, thank you very much indeed for your time. And again, I extend on behalf of everyone at CNN and everyone watching -- our deepest condolences on this terrible disaster that has hit your country.

SHIKATA: I thank you and for all the people across the world to extend assistance to Japan.

MORGAN: Well, we wish you every luck in resolving this crisis. Thank you.

When we come back: how great is the danger to Japan's people? And should Americans be worried?



MORGAN: Incredible new video just in for the moment. The tsunami struck in Japan, a man's car is engulfed in the wave as he keeps driving. The whole extraordinary scene caught on tape.

And joining me now is CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta on the nuclear danger in Japan.

Sanjay, we saw the grading of this nuclear incident upgraded today from four to five. Anderson explained earlier that this wasn't necessarily a reflection on the danger increasing so much as they misdirected this danger earlier in the week.

What is your assessment of the current danger of the radiation leaking?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think most of the danger is confined to the area, obviously, in the plant and certainly of the surrounding areas, the 20-kilometer evacuation area. You know, the workers themselves, Piers, I know we've talked about this a lot, are obviously putting themselves at potentially great danger to be able to do their work.

The area surrounding the evacuation zone, and presumably there's nobody in the area, but the dust, the radioactive particles can settle to the ground in that area and potentially be problematic for a long time to come. I mean, people haven't talked about this as much as of yet, but the cleanup in the area and what that area is going to look like for a long, long time to come, uninhabitable essentially, and dangerous from the sense that, you know, food products, anything that might come from that area will have to be treated probably for some time as contaminated.

Those are -- those are things that the Japanese officials are starting to think about.

MORGAN: Sanjay, obviously, the world attention is on the situation in Japan. But today, they have monitors in Sacramento and California picking up traces -- albeit very, very small traces -- of radiation in southern California. Should we be concern about this?

GUPTA: Well, I think all evidence points to no. Not as of yet. And I think that it shouldn't become a concern at some point as long as radiation levels here don't spike or something, you know, more catastrophic happens -- a big explosion that really throws a big plume, for example, up into the air. That could potentially be of concern.

But, you know, radiation detectors have been in place at airports for some time, long before this event. The planes are screened, cargo is screened, mail is screened. Now, passengers may be screened, as well, as part of a change in field testing protocol by customs, border and patrol. So, you know, it's likely that when we eventually go home, we'll get screened, as well.

But the radiation levels they have found, Piers, I should stress, have -- while elevated above what they normally find -- are still so low as to, you know, really not pose any kind of threat at all to human health. And we've heard that not just from the Japanese officials but also from, obviously, the scientists and the people who are monitoring these screenings, really all across the United States and in many places around the world now.

MORGAN: Sanjay, thank you very much indeed.

Japan's nuclear crisis raises the question: is nuclear energy safe?

Joining me is Congressman Ed Markey, ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources.

Representative Markey, are you overreacting? I mean, there's lots of speculation and rumor about the future of plants? Surely, we shouldn't be considering the end of nuclear energy, should we?

REP. ED MARKEY (D-MA), HOUSE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES: Well, I think that the nuclear industry has met its maker in the marketplace. In other words, it's not protesters but investors that are going to be wary of investing tens of billions of dollars in a technology which obviously has demonstrated itself to have some problems when natural gas, wind, solar, geothermal, biomass will be much safer investments. And I think, ultimately, it will be Wall Street that makes the determination that it's just too risky going forward to expose their investors to this kind of an investment.

MORGAN: How safe do you think the American plants are? I've spoke tonight quite a few people in the last week on the show who have very varying degrees of confidence in what would happen here if we were hit by a similar sized earthquake sparking similar sized tsunamis. What do you think?

MARKEY: Well, I was able to pass legislation in 2002 requiring the distribution of potassium iodide, that is the protection against thyroid cancer out to a 20-mile radius. The Bush administration refused to if beyond ten miles. Right now, the citizens of Japan are picking up serious traces of radiation, out to 19 miles. So, obviously my amendment was right on the mark.

So, I would call upon the Obama administration to distribute potassium iodide out to a 20-mile radius. That led to thousands of cancers after Chernobyl because that kind of an antidote was not made available.

And I also think that we should be taking a close look at the -- at the fuel storage facility and the nuclear power plants, especially those that are inside earthquake-prone areas in the United States -- and to do that, in the very near future.

MORGAN: Finally, there seems to be a lot of concern mounting now that the Japanese government simply can't keep a handle on this triple blow to them -- the earthquake, tsunami, now, the nuclear crisis. And as a result, the nuclear crisis may be worse than they're letting on because they simply don't know. They're just too overwhelmed with other distractions.

Should America now be getting more forcefully involved over there to try to get proper answers?

MARKEY: In the Soviet Union, the government was not transparent during the Chernobyl crisis. They should have asked for more help. They should have asked for it earlier.

At Three Mile Island, the utility swore that they had the capacity to be able to handle that emergency, but ultimately President Carter had to order in federal experts in order to help to shut down that plant before it became a catastrophe.

Obviously, the same thing is happening in Japan. There is overconfidence which is leading to, in my opinion, an exacerbation of the catastrophe. I would hope that the Japanese government would be open to having the most brilliant nuclear physicist in the country -- in the world -- coming in and helping them to close down this disaster so that they can focus on the tsunami-related disaster that have affected the lives of the families all across the northern part of Japan.

But I understand it because it's human nature to say that you have the capacity to be able to deal with something like this. We saw it in the Soviet Union. We actually saw it in the United States. Hopefully, they are now realizing that they should spare no effort or any pride in asking for the best to come in to help their people.

MORGAN: Ed Markey, thank you very much indeed for your time.

MARKEY: Thank you.

MORGAN: Coming up: an incredible story of survival. The American who was inside the Fukushima plant when the earthquake hit and outran a tsunami.


MORGAN: We're getting breaking news right now about an incredible survival story from Japan, a young man rescued in the rubble eight days after the quake and alive. This according to Japanese broadcaster NHK and the Japanese military, a quite extraordinary tale of survival.

And now here's another one. Chris Hope was working inside the Fukushima plant when the quake struck, and he made an incredible escape. And he joins me now.

Mr. Hope, what an extraordinary experience you've been through. Tell me exactly what happened when this quake struck the plant that you were working in.

CHRIS HOPE, INSIDE FUKUSHIMA PLANT WHEN QUAKE HIT: Well, I was working in the old administration building at the Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Power station. And at the time of the earthquake, you know, I was just getting ready to tie up some loose ends to end the workday. And all of a sudden the quake struck.

And at first I was thinking, wow, this is kind of neat, you know. I hadn't really experienced that many earthquakes before and was a little fascinated by it. But then that feeling quickly changed to terror as the earthquake became very violent and monitors were falling off the desks, and roof tiles were falling from the roofs.

And my Japanese co-workers were diving under desks. And we knew that this was not your typical, you know, small Japanese earthquake that we'd experienced previously.

MORGAN: Did you think at that point that you were going to die? How bad was it?

HOPE: Well, definitely. As soon as the quake started to get to the point where it was extremely violent, we knew that we needed to get out of the building and were a little afraid of possibly the building collapsing on top of us.

So we made a break for the hallway. As we entered the hallway, we noticed that these large steel fire doors had come closed and had locked us in the hallway. So we tried to budge the fire door that was closest to us, and it wouldn't move. So we made our way to the end of the hall.

And the whole time, you know, just everything was shaking, I mean, so violently that you could barely stand up. And just the -- the dust was choking us. And, you know, at this point I was very afraid. And we made our way to the fire door at the end of the hall.

And one of my Japanese co-workers knew that it was going to be tough to open. So he just ran at it as hard as he could and hit that thing. And we were able to budge it and eventually open it to get out into the foyer of the building.

And as we entered the foyer, I was shocked to see just these large granite tiles that were on the wall were cracking and breaking and stuff was falling from the roof. And there was these two glass doors that had locked us into the building. And we were trying to pry them apart. And I was actually thinking about just grabbing one of the bricks that had fallen and smashing it through the window.

Fortunately, we were able to pry those glass doors open and escape on to the road. And as we entered on to the road, still the earthquake was happening. And I was able to look around. And I saw part of the hillside behind us there that had fallen away and blocked off part of the road.

I could see the large smoke stacks of the nuclear power plants just, you know, swaying back and forth. I saw cracks open up in the ground and cracks in buildings were opening up. Glass was breaking. I could hear sirens and people shouting.

And, you know, eventually the -- the earthquake stopped. And at that point -- there had previously been an earthquake drill just the week before at the plant. So my Japanese colleagues knew exactly what to do. They -- we started taking a roll call and trying to figure out where everybody was. At that point, we noticed that our phones were not working. So we were a little concerned at that.

After the roll call, we decided that we needed to get to some higher ground because we knew that there was a tsunami coming. And so we started making our way to a safer location, and eventually were able to meet up with all of our co-workers and make sure we were safe.

MORGAN: And it was I think more than a day before you were able to make contact with your wife back home in America. That must have a pretty emotional moment when you got through.

HOPE: It was. And actually we were only able to talk just for a few minutes, maybe two -- two minutes. But all together, I spent approximately two days in refugee camps and, you know, made it home by taking taxis and buses and trains and even having to walk quite long distances to reach certain locations.

It was definitely quite a harrowing experience.

MORGAN: Finally, have you been tested for radiation since you got back?

HOPE: Yeah. That was one of the first things that I did when I returned home. I was able to go out to the Idaho National Laboratories. And they did a full body count radiation test on me to verify that I hadn't ingested a particle or I didn't have any particles on me or I hadn't received any large doses of radiation.

And after we did the series of tests, I came back clear on all of them. so that was a large sigh of relief both for myself and my wife and my family and friends.

MORGAN: Well, there aren't many people who survive an earthquake, a tsunami, and a nuclear crisis like the one you did, Chris Hope. And I think it's great to have such an inspiring and happy ending amid all this despair that we've been seeing and reading about.

So great to have you back.

Next, more from my exclusive interview with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His tough talk about the Palestinians and their response.


MORGAN: I sat down with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday for a candid interview. He had some strong words about the Palestinian Authority. Here now to respond is the chief PLO representative to the United States, Ambassador Maen Rashid Areikat.

Ambassador, thank you for joining me this evening. I want to get your reaction to last night's interview in a moment. First, I want to remind our viewers exactly what Prime Minister Netanyahu thinks of the Palestinian Authority.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: I think that Palestinian society is split into two: those who are openly calling for Israel's destruction like Hamas, and those who are not calling openly for Israel's destruction, but refuse to confront those who do, and that's the Palestinian Authority.

I think they're timid. I think they're afraid to stand up to these killers. I'm prepared to negotiate a final agreement, but I need a partner. That partner right now, because of the international reflexive attitude against Israel, that puts the onus on Israel's side -- Israel is proven guilty -- is judged guilty until proven guilty. The Palestinians are deemed innocent.

And I say stop giving them a pass. You want peace? You have to get both sides to compromise. And above all, you have to get both sides to sit down and negotiate.


MORGAN: Ambassador, how do you respond to Prime Minister Netanyahu's allegation that you're too timid to stand up to Hamas?

AMB. MAEN RASHID AREIKAT, CHIEF PLO REPRESENTATIVE TO U.S.: I don't think there is truth to this allegation. The Palestinian side has been -- have been engaged -- has been engaged with the U.S. administration in proximity talks, in direct talks. We have offered proposals, ideas, suggestions that until today we have not received one single response from the Israeli side.

And compromises -- we have made historic compromise in 1988 when we accepted the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza, with East Jerusalem as its capital. That's 22 percent of what used to be historic Palestine. I think, once again, the Israeli side is resorting to pretext and excuses not to confront the stark truth that there has to be an end to their military occupation of the Palestinian people.

Now, we're hearing the no partner slogan again, the same thing we heard when the late President Arafat was engaged with the Israelis. I think they are all pretext to avoid engaging the Palestinians and reaching a solution to end this conflict.

MORGAN: What do you think of his general view that Hamas is simply not an organization that he can ever have anything to do with? And if you insist on putting any Hamas representatives into government, then there simply can't be any deal?

AREIKAT: Well, this is an Israeli viewpoint. Hamas is a political force within the Palestinian society. The Palestinian president has launched an initiative to end the division between Hamas and Fattah. We have to preserve the democratic process within the Palestinian society, a process that has been on hold since January, 2010, when Hamas rejected to hold elections.

And the idea is to create a caretaker government, transitional government, to prepare for legislative, presidential elections and to let the Palestinian people decide who their representatives are. We don't interfere in Israeli internal politics. We don't tell the Israelis who to elect and who to choose.

We have repeatedly said that we are willing to talk to whatever government the Israeli people elect. And Israel should also be ready to talk to whatever Palestinian leadership the Palestinian people are willing to elect.

MORGAN: And there is a suggestion that if there is no peace deal with the Israelis in the near future, that the international community that's growing increasingly frustrated with Israel may consider endorsing a Palestinian state without Israel's involvement. What would you say to that?

AREIKAT: Well, I think the international community is tired and running impatient with Israeli attempts to preserve the status quo. Yesterday, William Burns -- Mr. William Burns, under secretary of state for political affairs in the United States, testified in front of the Foreign Relations Committee -- the Senate Foreign Relations committee, in which he said that the United States should pursue peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis, because the status quo cannot simply be preserved and maintained.

Israel wants to keep that status quo. They want to prolong their occupation of the Palestinian people. And they want to deny the Palestinian people the chance to establish their own state. I think the international community is exerting effort to help the two sides to reach a negotiated settlement.

But there has to be some effort to put an end to the Israeli occupation. And everybody now is focusing on the September deadline in which the international community is expected to recognize a Palestinian state.

MORGAN: Ambassador, thank you very much, indeed, for your time.

AREIKAT: Thank you, sir.

MORGAN: Coming up, back with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His emotional moment remembering his late brother.



MORGAN: There was an extraordinary moment at the end of my interview with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as we looked at the famous Netanyahu map in his office and talked about Israel's challenges. Take a look.


MORGAN: Prime minister, this is the famous Netanyahu map that everyone talks about in your office. And I guess what is fascinating to me is when you look at this in scale, is how small Israel seems by comparison to the Middle East.

NETANYAHU: How small it is. I mean, the Middle East starts here, sort of there on the edge of the wall. That's Morocco. This is Tunisia. This is Libya, which is about 100 times the size of Israel. Egypt, about 40 time the size of Israel. This is the Sinai desert.

Saudi Arabia, God knows how many times. Iraq, Syria, Iran. You want to see Israel now? Here's Israel. My finger covers it, with the West Bank, everything. So it's a tiny country, tiny, surrounded -- well, shall we say living in a very tough neighborhood.

Now if you're small, it's not necessarily a problem. I mean, Luxembourg doesn't have a security problem.

MORGAN: Can I ask you a stupid question --

NETANYAHU: But if Luxembourg were surrounded by the kind of neighborhood we are surrounded by, that's another matter.

MORGAN: Can I ask what may sound a stupid question? Do you ever wish Israel wasn't there? Do you ever wish it was stuck near Luxembourg? Would that have made life easier for everybody?

NETANYAHU: Well, you know, it might make our life easier. But it wouldn't materially make the difference. You can still Belgium in here and the same thing would happen, because the people who want us out, they don't want any Western presence here.

And guess what? Increasingly, they don't want any western presence here either. They have dreams of reestablishing the Caliphate.

MORGAN: Finally, prime minister, this I believe is you and your brother who tragically died in Intevi (ph). What do you think when you see that picture?

NETANYAHU: Well, firstly, that I have to go on a diet. Secondly that -- how young we were.

But I remember the day that was shot. That's on the Dead Sea, actually. And we had a great time. He was taking a leave out of the army. This is his picture a few weeks before he fell. I think of him a lot. And I often ask myself what would he be doing?

MORGAN: Do you think that pulling off a peace deal might be the greatest legacy you could give your brother?

NETANYAHU: If it holds, yes. A peace that holds, yes.

MORGAN: Prime minister, thank you very much.

NETANYAHU: Thank you.

MORGAN: It's been a pleasure to meet you.


MORGAN: Joining me now is a man who knows Prime Minister Netanyahu very well, Alan Dershowitz, attorney and author of "A Child of Zion." Alan, what did you make of that interview last night?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, AUTHOR, "A CHILD OF ZION": I thought it was a great interview. I thought you pressed him appropriately hard. And I think you were right when you said to him, this is time for a bold move. He is a big man who really I think would like to bring about peace.

The Palestinian representative you had on before completely left out the fact that Israel offered the Palestinians peace in 2000, 2001, 2007, 2008, everything they ever wanted, and it was turned down completely.

I would like to see a bold move made. I think this is the right time, with all the disarray in the Middle East. What I would hope would happen would be an even bigger man, the president of the United States, Barack Obama, would announce that he is immediately planning to go in a month or so to Jerusalem and to Ramallah, to Jerusalem to announce support for the Israel-Egyptian peace treaty, and to tell the Egyptians, look, we love you, we want to be a friend, but a condition of friendship is to preserve this very important treaty.

And then to go to Ramallah and show support for the Palestinian Authority in relation to Hamas, because the Palestinian ambassador forgot to mention that Hamas wants to destroy Israel and the Palestinian Authority. And in return, that Netanyahu would announce that between the time the announcement was made and the time that Obama got to Israel, say a month, he would stop all building on the West Bank, and would invite the Palestinians to come to Jerusalem, or he would go to Ramallah, and the Palestinians would also sit down, and in that month begin the negotiations toward boarders. This is the time for a bold move on the part of three leaders, the president of the United States, the prime minister of Israel and the president of the Palestinian Authority. I think the time is right.

MORGAN: What struck me very forcefully when I was in Jerusalem was that, with great irony, it appears to be one of the calmer areas of the Middle East right now. So as you have all this activity in Libya and Egypt and Tunisia, now Yemen and Syria, actually, this is a great time, isn't it, for the Israelis and the Palestinians to actually make a deal. Because there are bigger fish frying at the moment.

NETANYAHU: Absolutely. And it proves two other points. Number one, Israel is not the source of all the problems in the Middle East. These problems are inherent. And second, the United States has only one ally in the entire Middle East that it can always depend on to be a democracy, and that's Israel.

And the United States is the guarantor of Israel's security. It has to continue to be the guarantor of Israel's security. And only when Israel feels secure militarily can it make peace.

But I think this is a perfect time for a bold initiative. But it has to start from the president of the United States. He has to get involved. He has to get his hands dirty. He has to say, look, I'm making a commitment to come to Israel.

He's never been to Israel as president. He's been to Egypt. He's been to Turkey. The time has come to come to Israel and to the Palestinian Authority and to show his support for Israel's security and for the Palestinian Authority's ability to make a good peace with compromises on both parts.

MORGAN: Isn't one of the big problems in this Israel-Palestine dispute the fact that whichever leaders are there -- and this has been going on a long, long time. And Netanyahu has been prime minister twice now. Is that they're always overly worried about what their own people are going to think about what they do. They never seem to think of the bigger picture, which is that actually they could be part of history. They could build legacies.

And I mean on both sides. They always seem to be overly concerned, how is this going to play -- a classic example was the terrible murder of the family last week in one of the settlements. And Netanyahu's response to this was you kill, we build. That seemed to me not the response of a great statesman who can bring peace, but of somebody who is a prime minister worried about his vote coming the wrong way for him.

NETANYAHU: Well, in a democracy, you always have to worry about what the people think. That's the nature of democracy. But I know that Netanyahu's hero is Winston Churchill. Today, I went to the Churchill museum, and I'm wearing the Churchill tie.

People often forget that Winston Churchill won the war, but he lost the election. He lost the election in May and June of the same year he won the war, because he cared more about saving Britain than about saving the conservative party or his own political future.

And I do think Yasser Arafat refused to make peace because he was afraid of being killed. I think Benjamin Netanyahu was not afraid. I think he understands, though, that he has a political coalition that he has political coalition that he to keep in order.

But I think the time has come for all political leaders to put the history in front of the political and partisan nature, and bring together a coalition in Israel that is capable of making peace. This is the time to do it.

MORGAN: And you've known Prime Minister Netanyahu for 30 years. Do you think he's the kind of man who can actually make a decision which brought a peace deal but cost him his job?

NETANYAHU: Yes, I think he could, but he would have to know it didn't cost Israel its security. He would have to know that Iran has been neutralized, that he won't make peace with the Palestinians only to face a nuclear Iran. Getting rid of Iran's nuclear potential is crucial to peace.

Then I think Netanyahu can take the heroic step to consider his own political career, but basically put the interests of Israel and world peace ahead of that.

MORGAN: Alan Dershowitz, thank you very much indeed.

NETANYAHU: Thank you.

MORGAN: We'll be right back.


MORGAN: And now the latest on the breaking news of the young man found under the rubble a partially collapsed house eight days after the Japanese earthquake. According to Japan's broadcaster NHK, he's been taken to the hospital but he does not have serious injuries. A quite extraordinary story of survival amid all this dreadful despair.

And that's it for tonight. I now go to my colleague Anderson Cooper with "AC 360" live from Japan.