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CNN'S AMANPOUR

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak Evaluates the Effects of President Trump's Relocation of the U.S. Embassy; Prince Turki al-Faisal Explains the Changing Social Climate of Saudi Arabia. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired December 8, 2017 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[14:00:00]

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Jerusalem. The world comes to grips with President Trump's move on the most contested piece of real estate and we

come to understand what it means through two very different pairs of eyes- former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak who came closer than anyone to sharing the capital city, and Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former Saudi

Intelligence Chief who's worth(pf) is issue all his life.

Good evening everyone and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. There have been chaos, clashes, and bloodshed in the region

since President Trump's unilateral decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and we're just starting to understand the full

ramifications of the move. It's being loudly cheered in just one country, that's Israel. Indeed, even before Trump had unveiled his new peace

proposal, he's given away the most important piece of real estate. Back in 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered a plan to share Jerusalem

as capital of both Israel and the Palestinian state. Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian Authority President rejected that offer and Barak lost his

position in Israel's 2001 election. Seventeen years later, Ehud Barak joins me from Tel Aviv.

Prime Minister Barak, welcome to the program.

EHUD BARAK, FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Thank you for having me.

AMANPOUR: Well, let me just note that you are there in Tel Aviv, beautiful sparkling background. When you were Defense Minister, you were in Tel

Aviv. Every embassy in Israel is in Tel Aviv. Why would America want to move its embassy to Jerusalem? Do you think that is a good idea?

BARAK: I think it's a very good idea. It's just, as the President said, it's just acknowledging the reality Israel, the capital, was and will

remain forever Jerusalem.

AMANPOUR: We all know that Jerusalem is the most sensitive in the world. It's the most hotly-contested city in the world and under every peace

proposal, it has always been left to the two sides to negotiate. Do you think this move by President Trump has preempted negotiation? I mean he's

just kind of thrown to Israel to one side, the biggest prize in the negotiations.

BARAK: If you look carefully between the lines of what the President said, he basically did not close the whole issue. He did not pass into

(inaudible), two state solution if both sides agree, everything else, even (inaudible) Jerusalem will be finally decided by both sides in the

negotiation there when the time comes.

AMANPOUR: Except that of course all the Arab countries including your Palestinian partners are saying quite the opposite--that it's going to lead

to, you know, potential conflict, but, more importantly, to an end to America's role as the honest broker, as the indispensable player in your

region. I guess if you're sitting in Ramallah and you're the head of the Palestinian Authority, what are you meant to think?

BARAK: I'm not the head of the (inaudible)-

AMANPOUR: No, no, no but you've negotiated with them.

BARAK: I'm aware of the fact that there's certain kind of voices away from the other side, from our neighbor, from the Palestinians. It would

criticize this decision but the fact that it doesn't close the door on any future development. I don't want to come into the details but, we

(inaudible) might (inaudible) some things from the Americans or from other surround the table which we don't like and we have to completely

contemplate them based on the realities of negotiation.

AMANPOUR: There's been a lot of conversation. I think you were at the Saban Forum, certainly Jared Kushner was, and there has been a lot of talk

about the President's son-in-law trying to launch the new peace process and that there is a peace plan, or at least a lot of the elements in place and

that all sides have been briefed. What do you know, if anything, about an emerging Trump Administration's peace plan?

BARAK: I, I listened very carefully to Jared Kushner at the Saban Forum a few days ago. I couldn't find any hint about what (inaudible) in the

program. And we barely didn't know the situation, so I don't expect it to be very (inaudible). In the core issues from what we negotiated in the

past, all Israeli government, including myself-

[14:05:00]

AMANPOUR: Do you believe all sides or both sides have been briefed. Do you think your government knows what's in the peace plan? Do you think

Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority knows what's in the peace plan?

BARAK: No, I think that no one knows the whole details, the whole picture, but each side knows from the questions they were asked by Kushner and

(inaudible) to answer(pf) (inaudible), what issues might be most sensitive from their point of view.

AMANPOUR: You've said many times recently that you fear for your country and it's continue democracy and it's continued characteristic as a Jewish

state. Because of the potential of a one-state, because Prime Minister (inaudible), whose coalition is very hard line and very, you know, anti two

state. Don't you worry that that is becoming potentially more likely, including from the Palestinians. They say, "Well, you know, if we're not

going to get two states, we're going to go for one state. See how they like that."

BARAK: Look, this chant, it's, I-I'm consistent in my criticism of my own government. It's elected government, but it's a government that I don't

like. I don't like it's policies and I say that it's attempts to lead toward one state solution or to put it in other words, torpedo any

potential or possible divorce between (inaudible) Palestinian is bad and I'd say a real threat for the future of Israel. So this is a fight I'm

going to fight here in Tel Aviv. It will be our public opinion and our body of politics to (inaudible) them. But it has nothing to do with those

decisions.

AMANPOUR: I want you to cast your mind back to when you were Prime Minister in the late '90s and when you actually went to Camp David with

Yasser Arafat who was then alive, Chairman of the PLO, head of the PA, and President Clinton. And you came out with one of the most far-reaching

offers, or you were putting it on the table to the Palestinians that any Israeli Prime Minister had ever made backed by the United States President,

and in it was also Jerusalem.

BARAK: Yes, that's that's the tragedy. Our legendary foreign minister (inaudible) even used to say that the Palestinian never missed an

opportunity to mention about (inaudible). I think that they missed it at Camp David. And they said more than once, even if we would wait 5, 15, or

50 of them out about 15 years, obviously it will be solved by 50, the point of the agreement, you will need magnifying glass to see the difference, the

differences between what was on the table at Camp David and what will be decided at the end. And the only thing that will be changed is the side of

symmetries on both sides, more on the Palestinian side than on (inaudible).

AMANPOUR: Actually, it's nearly 18 years. I remember it because I was there covering it. And I actually interviewed Yasser Arafat right after he

basically said no and he left Camp David and he came to New York. And, and I just want you to listen to this blast from the past.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

AMANPOUR: The general consensus that he has made steps that no other Israeli Prime Minister has and he's suffered for it politically. My

question to you is, do you think that you can get even more out of him? That you can out-maneuver him, outlast him politically? Is that you're

waiting to get more out of an Israeli Prime Minister?

YASSER ARAFAT, FORMER CHAIRMAN OF THE PALESTINE LIBERATION ORGANIZATION: First of all I'm not asking for the moon. I'm asking what had been signed,

what had been (inaudible) to be implemented accurately and honestly. Not more, not less.

AMANPOUR: There are those who have suggested shared sovereignty over Jerusalem, shared sovereignty.

ARAFAT: Over Jerusalem?

AMANPOUR: Yes.

ARAFAT: Would you accept to share sovereignty of Russian front?

AMANPOUR: So for you that's a nonstarter?

ARAFAT: You accept?

AMNPOUR: I'm not an American citizen. But-

ARAFAT: From, from, from where you are.

AMANPOUR: I'm from England.

ARAFAT: You accept London to be shared?

AMANPOUR: But London is not in dispute like Jerusalem is. Today is today.

ARAFAT: Today is today. Right? All right. You will have to remember that we Palestinians are terrorist targets is our land (inaudible), the

Holy Land, not to forget it is (inaudible). Palestine means (inaudible), do you know what that means, (inaudible)?

AMANPOUR: No, what-

ARAFAT: The holy places.

AMANPOUR: OK. I can't-

ARAFAT: You are forgetting everything now it (inaudible).

[14:10:00]

(END VIDEO)

AMANPOUR: Do you remember that Prime Minister, when he said, "No I'm not going to share, and..."

BARAK: I remember everything. But I'll tell you something more. You know Arafat is not the, the best truth teller. Probably he started with a fake

(inaudible) and (inaudible) long before anyone else including our political leaders. At a certain point I would say these larger state (inaudible)

proved by his behavior not by his rhetoric. When he got the Nobel Peace Prize, after I spent time with him as a Prime Minister, I said he deserves

probably not the Nobel Peace Prize, but an Oscar.

AMANPOUR: OK, I get your point. I just want to take you back again to the, to the current situation. There's a lot of talk that what President

Trump did was in conjunction with Saudi Arabia, with Israel, with the group of allies who are aligned against Iran. Do you think that's the case and

more to the point, are there any behind closed doors, under the radar connections and contacts between Israel and Saudi Arabia?

BARAK: Look (inaudible), we know from leaks that there were some quite high level contacts between Israel, Egypt, Jordan, probably to an extent

Saudi Arabia, about how to launch such an effort. It can change the region having these regimes standing firm against Iran, against radical terror,

joining hands in other project. But it won't fly without being able to move with the Palestinians. The reason is not the arguably the,

(inaudible) love affair with the Palestinians or Palestinian leadership? No, but they have love affair for sure with their own public. They need

their public support. (inaudible) of the (inaudible) cannot go openly, full way with Israel to solve together problems without being able to tell

their publics that something is moving with the Palestinians. I, I, you know I would prefer to have a different Middle East but that's the Middle

East that we really have. So there are contact, there are certain elements of probably exchange of this or that (inaudible). Probably some of it can

even be brought to the surface but it won't succeed, it won't fly. As a regional effort to for reconciliation for acceptance of Israel without

moving forward with the Palestinians.

AMANPOUR: We'll pursue that in my next conversation. Ehud Barak, Former Israeli Prime Minister. Thanks for joining us tonight from Tel Aviv.

BARAK: Thank you Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Now the view from the Arab world couldn't be more different. Shortly after Barak's peace negotiations with Arafat failed, in 2002 Saudi

Arabia presented its own plan for the world. They would all offer peace and recognition for Israel in return for Israel withdrawing to the 1967

borders, and the Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem. Prince Turki al-Faisal was Saudi Arabia's Chief Intelligence Official and

later served as Ambassador to both Britain and the United States. And he joins me from the Kingdom.

Prince Turki al-Faisal, welcome to the program from (inaudible).

PRINCE TURKI AL-FAISAL, FORMER SAUDI ARABIAN CHIEF INTELLIGENCE OFFICER AND AMBASSADOR TO BRITAIN AND THE UNITED STATES: Nice to be back with you Ms.

Amanpour.

AMANPOUR: Can I start by asking you what you made of President Trump's announcement right there and then from the White House. I mean was that

something you expected? Was that something Saudi Arabia was hoping for?

AL-FAISAL: Everybody was taken aback by President Trump's statement and there is no rationalization or explanation that can satisfy the rejection

that that statement has received. Not just in Saudi Arabia but throughout the western world and even in non Muslim countries like European countries,

Russia, China, and India, et cetera, et cetera.

AMANPOUR: So I have to say it's really hard to understand how this all came about. There's a very deep closeness, much more than under the Obama

Administration. You know there are people who think, actually, maybe this is something Saudi Arabia communicated that might be a good idea for other

reasons.

AL-FAISAL: Well that is belied by the royal statement and by Saudi Arabia's consistent position since the establishment of the state of Israel

in 1948. We strongly support and have always strongly supported a Palestinian state with the capital in East Jerusalem, so how anybody can

read from there to believe that Saudi Arabia has agreed to President' Trump's statement, I don't know how.

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AMANPOUR: So explain to us then, you used to be ambassador in the United States. You've been all over the world on behalf of your country. How did

this happen?

AL-FAISAL: I wish I knew. America has changed since I was ambassador and I hear this from many Americans that the America of today is not the one

that I left as Ambassador in 2007.

AMANPOUR: Already, European leaders and the EU Foreign Policy Chief has told me, and others have said, this now really damages America's role as

the indispensable broker, the honest broker between the Palestinians and the Israelis. And potentially, damages the prospects of a real Middle East

peace process. What do you think?

AL-FAISAL: I agree with that conclusion. And I just don't where we are going to go from here. But the whole world is puzzled and in disarray

because America was the country that was leading the peace negotiations in our part of the world. And now, Mr. Trump has basically abandoned that

role because he's taking Israel's side.

AMANPOUR: Do you think it will make it more dangerous, a more dangerous world for the United States and the U.S. interest, particularly in your

region?

AL-FAISAL: Not just the United States, I think it's going to, as I said, it is rejuvenating the terrorist groups who strike everywhere. They strike

in America, they strike in Saudi Arabia, they strike in Europe, they strike in India, and Pakistan, everywhere. These groups have been, as I said, on

the way recently. And now this act by the President is going to give them new life and breathe new fire into them and make them even more dangerous

than before.

AMANPOUR: Let me read you another bit of commentary, this is from Thomas Freeman in the New York Times, and he has just had an interview with Prince

Mohammed bin Salman saying, the Trump has just gave it away for free, such a deal.

Why in the world would you just give this away for free and not even use it as a lever to advance the prospects of an Israeli-Palestinian deal? That's

obviously Jerusalem, he's giving it away. Do you think that there is some, I don't know, great art of the deal that we're just not seeing? I mean, do

you think that he could use this to pressure the Israeli Prime Minister in to doing the right thing; or or, is he just giving it away?

AL-FAISAL: Well I'm not a business man so I don't know how deal making is done by Mr. Trump. But I know that in negotiations, you don't concede a

position before you get something for it. And diplomacy has always been built on that basic quid pro quo approach. And in this case, as Freeman

has said, Mr. Trump has giving away something that could have been used to advance the process and make peace more more doable, than it now is. The

irony, of course, is that Jerusalem is not Mr. Trump to give, to give away to. So he is handing real estate to to an illegal occupier of that real

estate without having the right to do that. It is totally unacceptable.

AMANPOUR: What do you say to people, and there are many, not just President Trump, there are many that say, you know what, not declaring

Jerusalem the capital hasn't advanced peace. Not moving our Embassy hasn't advanced peace, and of course, the Wall Street Journal is saying, Arab

leaders denounce the Embassy move but we wonder how long the fury will last. The Sunni Arabs also confront the threats of Islamic terrorism and

Iranian Imperialism. And the Palestinians are a third order concern. Are they a third order concern for you?

AL FAISAL: Not from this side of the, of the world. They're first order everywhere and that has been the case since the establishment of the state

of Israel. We here, of course, are very much touched by by Palestinian because we see the results in front of us. The groups like Al-Qaeda, like

the so called Islamic state, and other terrorist groups, in the past, has used the banner head line of Jerusalem and Palestine as their as their

marching call. So to say that it's no longer important for Saudi Arabia or for Arab leaders, I think, just signifies how little the Wall Street

Journal and perhaps some of the Americans who are saying(ph) that know of this part of the world.

AMANPOUR: Well let's put it a different way, isn't it the case that you all find Iran the big threat of the moment? And to that end, you, I

believe, certainly you have been meeting with certain Israelis. In New York, you were at a Synagogue with a former Israeli intelligence official,

Efraim Halevy. Are you trying, is it in Saudi Arabia's interest to somehow warm up relations with Israel, talk to the Israelis in a way that you

haven't before because you have this common enemy?

[14:20:00]

AL-FAISAL: The irony there, Ms. Amanpour, is that Israel is using the Palestinian issue as this a, this scapegoat for their actions. That it's

not really important for us now because Iran is the main enemy. And to think that Saudi Arabia would cooperate with Israel while it still occupies

Palestinian lands, and Syrian lands, and Lebanese lands. And Jerusalem, as I said, some (ph), they just don't know what they're talking about who say

that.

AMANPOUR: Well why then is it in your interest to appear on a stage in in a Synagogue in New York with Efraim Halevy, the former head of of of

Mossad?

PRINCE TURKI AL FAISAL: Well, it is to tell the Israeli people that Palestine is the number one issue for us. And that it is their

responsibility to reach a peace settlement according to the Saudi peace plan, the Arab peace initiative. That is why I speak to Jewish audiences

in America, and elsewhere, and have met ex-Israeli officials. And, Mr. Halevy, himself has been urging the Israeli government to accept the two

states solution and to enter in to a serious negotiations with the Palestinians on that issue.

AMANPOUR: Can I broaden it a little bit? Because the whole world is actually watching your now, there's some incredible developments

internally. The very young Crown Prince, who I've mentioned already, Mohammed bin Salman, has made a whole load of declarations and projections.

You know, women can drive finally, this June, hopefully June 29th 2018. We're going to see women behind the steering wheel.

AL FAISAL: Well it's a, it's an exciting time for us in Saudi Arabia. Senior citizens like myself are watching it with delight because the young

people are really in to it. And they are in a dynamic mood. As you know, there are more that 200 thousand Saudis who then spread throughout the

world, including in the United States. More than 65 thousand of them who are acquiring the skills and know how to move the country forward, on all

levels, it's an exciting time.

AMANPOUR: Yes, and I look forward to, in fact, driving on the streets of Riyadah and Jeddah, and other such places. But let me ask you also, I mean

that's a basic civil right, and finally women are going to get it in your country after all these decades. What about the religious police? The

crown prince has put them back in their barracks, so to speak. This is important as well, right?

AL FAISAL: Indeed and that's what the people want. You don't find any push back on these events and these accomplishments that the king and the

crown prince have imposed and have led us in to getting in to. It took American women a long time to achieve some of their rights and I believe

some of them are still calling for more rights. And we've witnessed in recent times, the issue of harassment and things like that, which are not

unique to the United States. But these are, women's not(ph) is being controversial and justifiably so. And there is much interest, not in it,

not just over there but also over here.

AMANPOUR: Again, finally, you know, you're probably 100 years later that the US. But none the less, finally you're getting there. Prince Turki Al

Faisal, thank you for joining us from Riyadh tonight.

AL FAISAL: Thank you, Ms. Amanpour.

AMANPOUR: Now Arab leaders, all over the region as we've seen, have denounced President Trump's decision on Jerusalem. But, their people are

angry at them, as Ben Wedeman found out in Lebanon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN WEDEMAN CNN COORESPONDENT: Jerusalem is less than 150 miles from Beirut's Shatila Palace (ph) refugee camp. Reminders of the holy city are

on the walls, as are the faces of their heroes past. But for the thousands that call the camp home, the uproar over President's Trumps decision to

recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, is a world away. 92 year old (ph) shows a hatchet he says was left behind by Lebanese Christian militia men,

who slaughtered hundreds of Palestinian civilians here in September 1982, allowed into the camp by Israeli troops.

[14:25:00]

Although this anger is focused not on the Israelis or the Americans, but rather on Arab leaders who loudly professed support for the Palestinians

claim to Jerusalem, can do nothing. All the Arab states are traitors, he say, they're all the same, traitors. The first generation of refuges is

dying out, the camp (ph) with children, the latest generation of refugees. Most of the inhabitant of this refugee camp never stepped foot in Palestine

and given the failure of all attempts to stall the issue, probably never will.

Palestinian refugees is Lebanon are at best, second class citizens, most restricted to living in ram(ph) shackled camps like this, barred from a

variety of professions. With no solution in sight, this bleak existence is their lot for the foreseeable future. Against the odds, the dream of

return lives on in the heart of 77 year old (ph). Until judgment day, I will wait, he says. And I will tell my children and my grandchildren, our

land is Palestine. The location of the American Embassy in Israel, won't make much difference to the people here, it's a minor detail. Ben Wedeman,

CNN, Shatila Refugee Camp, Beirut.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: That is our program tonight, thanks for watching and good bye from London.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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