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Israel Mourns Political Giant Shimon Peres; Palestinians React to Death of Shimon Peres; One of Last Doctors in Aleppo on Life Under Siege; The Toy Smuggler of Aleppo. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired September 28, 2016 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:15] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, Israel mourns one of its founders, the former prime minister and Nobel Laureate. Shimon Peres
dies at the age of 93. His name forever linked to peace, forging the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians.
A look back at his life and legacy with Israel's chief negotiator Yossi Beilin and the view from the West Bank with the former Palestinian
authority cabinet member, Ghassan Khatib.
Plus, life and death in Aleppo. I hear from one of the city's last doctors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're at the hospital now where I'm working under the ground because we are afraid to get targeted by the explosive barrels. So
now those bombs, we don't know now where we had to hide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
There will be a state funeral in Israel on Friday. And right now flags across the nation are at half-staff to mourn the death of the Israeli
statesman Shimon Peres at the age of 93.
One of the last of Israel's founding generation. He was there from the start, a protege of the First Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. And he went
on to serve in all top government roles, including twice as prime minister, and seven years as president.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): In a world of division, Shimon Peres stood as a towering figure of peace.
SHIMON PERES, FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: My father used to say, and I'm quoting, "You're only as great as the cause you serve."
AMANPOUR: For Peres, that cause was finding common ground with Israel's neighbors and enemies, especially the Palestinians. And he will forever be
remembered for his role in negotiating the Oslo Peace Accord that envisioned a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians.
A year later as part of the regional outreach, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres helped make peace with Jordan. That was 1994. And it remains in
place to this day.
The historic Oslo agreement provided the foundation for ensuing decades of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian authority.
And in 1994, Peres shared the Nobel Peace Prize with his boss, then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and with Yasser Arafat.
This is what he told me many years later when President Barack Obama awarded him the Medal of Freedom in Washington.
PERES: In my judgment, these people weren't born to rule another people --
AMANPOUR: We're not born.
PERES: No. No, it stands against everything that we stand against and we must keep our moral foundation. I cannot imagine a Jewish people without a
AMANPOUR: But despite his best efforts, the Middle East peace process has all but collapsed. Even talk of a two-state solution has begun to fade.
Even so, Shimon Peres continued to meet with Palestinian officials and foreign leaders. He remained true to his cause to the very end. If often
amusing and self-deprecating at least in public.
(on-camera): What do you think your contribution to history has been?
PERES: That's one of the things I can't understand. I don't even know. I'm trying to do my best in my life. But I don't know what was, what were
the reasons and why, I really don't know.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Shimon Peres never lost hope and reportedly was found of quoting the words of a Greek philosopher, "In war, the old bury
the young. In peace, the young bury the old."
Peace has not yet come to the Middle East. The old are still burying their young. But against all odds, Peres died trying to change all that.
So now we go straight to Tel Aviv and to someone who has worked very closely with Shimon Peres.
Yoshi Beilin, who is deputy foreign minister led Israel's negotiations over the Oslo Accords.
Welcome to the program, Mr. Beilin. And, obviously, condolences. You've lost a partner and presumably a political mentor.
Take me back to those heady days when everything seemed possible.
How did the Oslo Accord even start? How did you even get started on that track?
[14:05:08] YOSSI BEILIN, FORMER ISRAELI DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, it started when I met with Terje Rod-Larsen, even before the elections, which
brought labor back to power and Rabin. And we agreed that if we win and if I'm having a position in the government, we will try such a back-channel in
Oslo. We won. I became the deputy foreign minister. Peres became the foreign minister. But Rabin did not want him to be involved in the direct
negotiations between Israelis and the Palestinians, neither in the negotiations between Israel and Syria.
So it was very difficult for me to ask my boss a permission to have a back channel when he was not allowed actually to negotiate. This was the real
secret of Oslo.
AMANPOUR: So how does --
BEILIN: So I begin -- I begin it on my own. I took the responsibility, and only when we had the first paper between us and the PLO, I went to
Shimon and I said, Shimon, we were talking with the Palestinians for about a month and this is what we have. But now we need a green light to
continue it further.
And when I told him that and he read the paper, he said yes, but I have to get the permit of the prime minister. And he went to Rabin and Rabin said,
OK, OK. Go on. And that was actually the beginning of the involvement of my superiors in the process.
AMANPOUR: And so that led, obviously, to a whole load more negotiations and back-channel and secret talks until one day everybody stepped out on
the White House lawn and there we had the unthinkable, the unimaginable, you had the Israeli prime minister, the leader of the Palestinian at that
time, liberation authority. Yasser Arafat shaking hands.
Did the country support you at that time? Was there ever a real chance? And I ask this obviously in hindsight, that this two-state solution, this
peace, could actually last?
BEILIN: The support was amazing. By the way, on both sides. For a moment in history, I could not cross the street. I mean, people would, would
bless and thank and whatever. Because they, they were led to think that what happened was peace between Israel and Palestine. Although this was
not the case.
And I see that -- and I said it even then, but I admit not publicly, that the idea to upgrade the ceremony, to bring it to the level of the American
president, of Rabin and Arafat themselves, while we just signed then a humble, interesting interim agreement of five years, without any indication
about the content of the permanent agreement, it was a little premature.
And we led the world to believe, because the world is not interested in details. They saw the picture of Clinton, Rabin and Arafat and thought,
yes, there is peace in the Middle East. There is peace between Israel and Palestine although it was really premature.
AMANPOUR: And so, then what? I mean, we know that there was, you know, again, more heady days. There were the set-up of the Palestinian
authority. There were elections. There was, you know, the beginnings of steps towards a future. And then we had a Camp David, which failed in
2000, the second Intifada.
Do you believe, you know, that the -- I mean, the whole process is all but collapsed right now.
What is the future? Where does this lead now?
BEILIN: I don't believe that either of us has a better solution than the two-state solution. I mean, people like myself who are for peace and for
compromises are ready to go a long way, we never give up on the idea of a Jewish and Democratic state.
So, eventually, Israel will have to decide, either to withdraw unilaterally to something like the 67 borders or to have an agreement with the
And this is why I'm far from being optimistic about it, because we are not too far from the moment of truth, whereby, there might be more Palestinians
than Jews to the west of the Jordan River. We will have to take the decision. And I believe that the decision that we will take will be the
AMANPOUR: OK, well, let me --
BEILIN: The only question is what will be the prize, the blood until then.
AMANPOUR: Well, that is what Ehud Barack, former prime minister, said to me as well.
What will be the price? I believe as you've just said, what will be the eventual outcome?
[14:10:05] AMANPOUR: But this is what he said about the threat right now from inside Israel to a two-state solution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EHUD BARAK, FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: The real, most apparent threat right now is our inability to put a wedge on this slippery slope toward one
state. One state nation cuts under the very foundations of the Zionist dream and project.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So what do you make of that? He obviously and he said it publicly in Israel before, believes that the Likud government, particularly
some of the -- what he calls the extremists in Likud, have kind of hijacked the process and are not interested in a two-state solution.
Do you believe that's true? Is that even possible?
BEILIN: Yes, it is possible. Actually what happened in '96 when it was almost a tie between Peres and Netanyahu, and eventually Netanyahu became
the prime minister, Netanyahu is ahead of the opposition, said that once he's the prime minister, he will actually abolish the Oslo agreement.
And when he became the prime minister, in his deeds, he did it. And on the 4th of May, 1999, which was the deadline for a permanent agreement,
actually nothing happened so I'm not saying that only Israel is to be blamed for this. Of course, there were things which were done by the
Palestinian side, including of course the use of force and terrorism. But there is a tough competition, tough competition about who is to be blamed
for the failure of the, of the process right now. Not the death of the process. Because the process is not a human being.
And I don't think that both people are going to give up on the idea of peace between them.
AMANPOUR: All right. Yossi Beilin, thank you so much.
I'm going to turn now to Ramallah on the left bank, where Ghassan Khatib joins me.
You've obviously been listening, Mr. Khatib. You're a former Palestinian authority planning minister.
Just let me take what Mr. Beilin said in his last comment. That there is plenty of blame to go around. It's not all Israel's fault. It's the
Palestinians' fault as well that there is no final peace at this moment.
Do you accept any responsibility?
GHASSAN KHATIB, FORMER PALESTINIAN CABINET MEMBER: I think there are different people who bear responsibility. But I want to start from the
During the time of the peace process, when Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin were in power in Israel, and when the majority of the Palestinian public
and the Israeli public were able to live with historical compromise of two states, I think that Peres and Rabin were hesitant towards ending that
occupation. And one of the signs into that is that they refused to stop the illegal expansion of Jewish settlements in the Palestinian-occupied
territories, which contributed significantly to breaking the confidence between the two sides.
And if there are reasons, different reasons for the failure of the peace process, I think that the insistence on expansion, on the expansion of the
Jewish settlements all along starting that period of confidence, would be the primary cause responsible not only for the failure of the peace
process, but consequently also for the radicalization process that we witnessed and are continuing to witness in Israel.
Because the failure of the peace process brought to us the kind of fanatic politicians that we see now in the Israeli Knesset and cabinet. And that
is a result of the failure of the peace process, which in my view has resulted from the hesitancy of Peres and Rabin when there was an historical
opportunity, to seize this opportunity and to proceed with no hesitation towards two states that would require stopping the expansion of settlements
and willingness to end that occupation.
AMANPOUR: You've definitely made your point about settlements and many obviously in the international community have the same view about
settlements. But on the issue of a partner for peace, you've heard Prime Minister Netanyahu constantly say that there is no partner for peace.
But what Ehud Barak told me is that the existential threat to Israel is a potential one-state solution. And he's trying to convince people that your
group, the Palestinian authority, could and is a partner, but Hamas isn't, obviously.
How under threat are you by Hamas? And isn't he right? That as long as they are there and ruling the roost, and may win in local elections coming
up, that that means there's very little hope.
[14:15:07] KHATIB: Yes, but there is some mixing between cause and effect here. Because the radicalization in the Palestinian authority and the rise
of Hamas is a result of the failure of the peace process that the peace camp in Palestine have gambled on.
And if there will be a hope for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, for example Israel would stop the expansion of settlements and show signals
towards possibility of ending the occupation, I think that that will reverse the negative trends in the Palestinian public opinion and bring
about again, strength to the moderate camp that has been losing ground because of the failure of the peace process resulted from the Israeli
settlement expansion, mainly.
AMANPOUR: Very, very briefly, because we do want to talk also about Shimon Peres. Obviously, you met him several times. You were there at the very
first international conference in Madrid.
He said over and over again, that we are sincere. We don't want to rule your lives. We want to have, you know, a responsible neighbor, nation
state next door to us.
What were your personal memories of him?
KHATIB: Look, it's easy to say. And we Palestinians have learned the hard way not to take seriously what we hear from the Israelis, but what we see
of their practices.
Peres was part of that establishment, which is responsible for the historical injustice that occurred on Palestinian people, whether in 1948
AMANPOUR: But Mr. Khatib, also, for the peace --
KHATIB: And he and his government --
AMANPOUR: Also for the turn towards peace in the '90s, would you not agree?
KHATIB: I agree that he was part of that turn. But also I agree that he did not seize the opportunity when he could not or did not want to stop the
illegal expansion of settlements.
There was an opportunity that he did not seize. There was an opportunity, because in Palestine, there was a leadership that can deliver and the
public opinion that was willing and same in Israel. And Israel is the determining factor in that situation then.
But he was hesitant, and Rabin was hesitant, and I think that they wasted an opportunity. And I think that this is the reason behind the
deterioration that we are living in now. Probably not the only reason. But a main one.
AMANPOUR: Mr. Khatib, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us from Ramallah in the West Bank.
AMANPOUR: And from the ongoing war in the Middle East to next door in Syria, where Aleppo is under serious fire. We talk to one of the last
doctors there -- next.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.
The U.S. is threatening to cut off contact with Russia over Syria until the bombing of Aleppo stops. Two of the remaining hospitals in the besieged
east were bombed out of service today as the air strikes continue to make the city a living hell. And I've just reached Dr. Hamza al-Khatib by Skype
in that besieged part of the city. Listen to what told me. He runs the Al Quds Hospital there.
AMANPOUR: Dr. Khatib, welcome to the program.
[14:20:02] You're in East Aleppo. It's under the most sustained bombardment that we've seen in this six -- nearly six-year war.
Can you even do your job? Can you even minister to the injured?
DR. HAMZA AL-KHATIB, AL QUDS HOSPITAL: It's very difficult to receive so many injuries at the same time. In spite of all of that, the regime and
the Russians are always dropping new bombs. The cluster bombs are now the -- they are all the time.
Most of the attacks are with cluster bombs that cause a lot of injuries. The number of injuries have been increased during the last month for each
AMANPOUR: I understand one of the big changes is bunker-busting bombs that are penetrating deep into buildings, causing them to collapse, but also
threatening hospitals and clinics?
AL-KHATIB: Unfortunately, the new bombs are not getting us to work more. People who are next to those bombs are immediately dead. There is not a
lot of injuries, because of that, that new bomb.
And most of the hospital now are working under the ground because they are afraid to get targeted by the explosive barrels. So now those bombs, we
don't know what -- where, where we had to hide to protect ourselves and our patients from those bombs.
AMANPOUR: Dr. Khatib, it sounds like hell on earth, really, it does. Do you have enough facilities in terms of people to help?
I understand, you know, your wife has been taking pictures, watching, recording how these emergency workings are happening. But do you have
enough people. Do you have enough vehicles to (OFF-MIKE)
The electricity. For us in the hospital, we have enough fuel to make us operate for maybe one, maximum two months. And by using that fuel wisely,
that we turned off the generators at the evening. Even the oxygen generators, we turn it off. And we have to put the patient that needs to
be mechanically ventilated, to be manually ventilated for eight hours.
It takes them hours to get food. They have to move between so many neighborhoods to find, to find food. It's expensive and it's not available
AMANPOUR: It just is just so dire. And so many children being killed. As you know, UNICEF has said about 96 children over the last several days have
Do you ever get scared, scared enough to want to leave?
AL-KHATIB: Actually I'm scared all the time. But it's not enough to make me leave. Seeing those children suffering, seeing those patients, the
people that you are helping, trying to give life to them, that's stronger than any bombs in the world.
AMANPOUR: Well, Dr. Hamza al-Khatib, thank you for telling us and telling the world what's going on right now in besieged Eastern Aleppo, director of
the Al Quds Hospital. Thank you so much, indeed.
AL-KHATIB: You're welcome, thank you.
AMANPOUR: And when we come back, smuggling is bad, right? Not when you are a toy smuggler.
Imagine offering hope to the besieged and bombarded children of Aleppo. That's next.
[14:27:00] AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine risking everything to offer hope to those with nothing.
Rami Adham is a Finnish Syrian, father of six, but he's become a beacon to so many more children in Syria today as the toy smuggler of Aleppo.
Risking life and limb to deliver food, medicine, water and famously toys to the children in that besieged part of the town bringing what he calls a
celebration of joy to where it is really needed the most.
Rami began this five years ago, watching from afar as atrocities rained down on his homeland. He's made 28 dangerous journeys into Aleppo so far.
Raising money to buy food and medicine for the people, but risking everything to take in toys? Yes, because that's about being human. It's
about giving the littlest ones a sense of normality in the very worst of times.
And that is it for our program tonight. Thanks for watching, and good-bye from London.