Ahmad Tibi MK - Leader of the Arab Movement for Change, Joint List, Israel HARDtalk


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Ahmad Tibi MK - Leader of the Arab Movement for Change, Joint List, Israel

Stephen Sackur talks to newsmakers and personalities from across the globe. Stephen speaks to Ahmad Tibi, veteran Arab-Israeli MP and one time advisor to Yasser Arafat.


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Now on BBC News, it's

time for HARDtalk.

0:00:000:00:09

Welcome to HARDtalk.

0:00:090:00:10

I'm Stephen Sackur.

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Donald Trump claims he can broker

the deal of the century

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between Israel and Palestine.

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Instead, he seems to have

entrenched the hostility.

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My guess is that they are trained

Arab Israeli MP and one-time adviser

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to Yasser Arafat, Ahmad Tibi.

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Is the Arab-Israeli experience

a sign that the uneasy,

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messy status quo is the only viable

response to the conflict

0:00:400:00:43

between Jewish and Arab communities?

0:00:430:00:44

HARDTALK THEME MUSIC PLAYS.

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Ahmad Tibi, welcome to HARDtalk

Thank you. I think we have to start

0:01:120:01:19

with the impact of the Donald Trump

presidency on relations between

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Palestinians and Israelis. Would you

agree that it has fundamentally

0:01:230:01:29

changed the dynamic in the region?

Yes, for the negative. I think that

0:01:290:01:34

Trump and his Administration

promoted anarchy in the region and

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anarchy in the world by supporting,

enhancing, encouraging violation of

0:01:400:01:48

international law and adopting one

side as opposed to the other.

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President Trump via his speech about

Jerusalem he adopted these rarely

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narrative and the occupation

narrative. To say that he and his

0:02:020:02:07

three Musketeers, advises who are

great supporters, adopted the

0:02:070:02:15

talking points of Benjamin

Netanyahu...

You can make your point

0:02:150:02:20

about international law but surely

what Donald Trump has recognised

0:02:200:02:25

reality in perhaps a more honest way

the previous American President is

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because the truth is it is obvious

to everyone that the Israeli capital

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is in Jerusalem, it is where the

cabinet needs, and Donald Trump said

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enough with this nonsense.

That is

nonsense. Because 1967, Jerusalem

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was occupied in 1967, that is the

reality. If there is a thief in the

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area and he has taken your house,

that is a reality but you are not

0:02:550:03:00

supposed to accept reality as

legitimate FAQ.

Colonel Trump

0:03:000:03:06

announced he would move the embassy

to Jerusalem, and we understand it

0:03:060:03:09

may happen quicker than we thought

but he said I not prejudging what

0:03:090:03:13

the two parties finally agree on

Jerusalem, they can do what they

0:03:130:03:19

want, they can divide it in the

future as they wish, we are simply

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recognise it what is seen to be

Israel's capital.

He said more than

0:03:240:03:28

that. In 1980, there was a motion

saying exactly what he said in his

0:03:280:03:37

speech. He adopted that low of

unified capital of Israel,

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containing the Supreme Court, the

government, Parliament. He adopted

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that phrasing, even. He did not say

that Jerusalem is an occupied area,

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that Jerusalem should be the capital

of the Palestinians and this is the

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most dangerous thing, he is dealing

with Jerusalem as it is an internal

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issue of the Israelis and it is not.

The fact is, he remains the most

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powerful man in the world- you could

perhaps argue about that, China is

0:04:140:04:21

rising power- but he has a really a

decision that reflects the fact that

0:04:210:04:28

frankly many Palestinians without

knowledge, you have lost. You have

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lost in the sense that your

interests are never going to be

0:04:330:04:36

achievable.

I do not agree with you

totally. You do in part? It is one

0:04:360:04:47

of the most toughest and it

difficult areas for the Palestinian

0:04:470:04:53

people, I agree with that, but we

have had much more difficult phases

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in our history, in Palestinian

history. This nation, the

0:04:580:05:03

Palestinian people, is very much in

Sijsling in implementing and

0:05:030:05:09

achieving its national rights and it

is the rights of the people under

0:05:090:05:16

occupation seeking to be freed, to

be Independent, to be sovereign,

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alongside the state of Israel and Mr

Trump is saying the Palestinians and

0:05:220:05:26

Israelis, you will take it all and

he will take nothing. He has

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qualified himself as a broker.

I am

wondering as and Israelis citizen,

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you serve in the Knesset Knesset,

you represent the interests of the

0:05:420:05:47

Arab Israeli people. Reaction from

Hamas leaders saying we would not

0:05:470:05:58

allow Trump's declaration to pass

even if we lose our heads in the

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process, all the talk of a new

intifada, the talk of Palestinians

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putting their life on the line, we

have been here so many times before,

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is there not now be we resignation

that says to you, in the privacy of

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your mind, there is no point any

more to this sort of talk of laying

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down our lives, new in the -- into

fibres, we are part of the

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Palestinian people.

There are three

parts, Palestinians inside is right,

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in 67 areas, and in the diaspora. We

are supporting Palestinians

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self-determination and this right is

not negotiable and we are, as

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citizens, from the podium, from the

Knesset Knesset, we are promoting

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Israeli-Palestinian peace, we are

not supporting violence, we have

0:07:030:07:08

said it in the past always, I am

supporting nonviolent popular

0:07:080:07:14

resistance. It has succeeded in the

last year when the church closed...

0:07:140:07:27

When the government official tried

to impose taxes on the Christian

0:07:270:07:31

Church in Jerusalem.

One could say

it is easy to you to talk about

0:07:310:07:36

protests, the usual words in the

Knesset. But if you lived in the

0:07:360:07:44

occupied West Bank, the reality is

much more desperate. A young girl in

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the West Bank village who struck out

at an Israeli officer because she

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was so angry about what the troops

were doing in and around the

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village, she is now in a court

facing serious charges and may well

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end up in prison. It is easy for you

as an Arab - Israelis to say that

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but it is much for difficult for

others to jeopardise their freedom.

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I accompanying her in the military

court...

You can walk away at the

0:08:210:08:26

end of the day.

13 of us were shot

way snipers and killed in 2000.

0:08:260:08:34

Citizens of the state of Israel

because we just demonstrated against

0:08:340:08:41

Sharon getting in. From that point,

until today, 55 Arab citizens were

0:08:410:08:48

killed by the Israelis security

authorities without being

0:08:480:08:54

prosecuted. We are in danger because

of the way Israeli police is dealing

0:08:540:08:59

with us as enemy is not as citizens

but I not in a position to reach

0:08:590:09:07

Palestinians in Gaza and the West

Bank how to resist. -- to preach to.

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People are resisting... Really, it

is not your fight...

My nation

0:09:140:09:19

fight.

I am a Palestinian... And

also an Israeli. You have the vote,

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you have a seat in the Knesset

Knesset. There is a difference

0:09:260:09:32

between you and the people living

under occupation and we can talk

0:09:320:09:36

about the subset of the Palestinians

living in Excel...

They are

0:09:360:09:40

suffering much more.

I am

interesting in the position of the

0:09:400:09:46

Arab Israeli and amongst Arab

Israelis, the overwhelming feeling

0:09:460:09:51

is one of query acceptance. Opinion

polls show that a clear majority of

0:09:510:09:56

Arab Israelis have a positive

feeling a bout of their lives in

0:09:560:10:02

Israel. A positive feeling.

I am

Smiley because I am living there. --

0:10:020:10:10

smiling. Arab citizens are

discriminated in all fields of life

0:10:100:10:23

and in Pauls, scientific polls, not

Israeli journalist polls, they are

0:10:230:10:30

feeling second or third degree

citizens. Budget, employment,

0:10:300:10:38

agriculture, nonindustrial zones, we

are discriminated in all fields of

0:10:380:10:43

life.

A major poll says 60.5% of

Arabs describe their situation as

0:10:430:10:53

good or make very good. It does not

seem to match what you are saying.

I

0:10:530:10:58

did not agree with these results. At

least people are saying believed the

0:10:580:11:12

State is dealing with them as

enemies not as equal citizens.

Why

0:11:120:11:19

do you think thousands of Arabs

living in Jerusalem - they have a

0:11:190:11:23

grey area status because an

international law East Jerusalem is

0:11:230:11:30

occupied territory but since the

annexation by Israel they are

0:11:300:11:35

regarded as people with rights to

residency and, indeed, the right to

0:11:350:11:39

apply for citizenship in Israel and

thousands have indeed applied for

0:11:390:11:46

citizenship.

What does that tell

you? We are talking about 300,000

0:11:460:11:51

Palestinians in Palestinians and

you're talking about thousands.

0:11:510:11:55

Those Palestinians in east Jerusalem

are facing strangulation policy,

0:11:550:12:04

deportation, revoking their identity

card, sending them out Jerusalem -

0:12:040:12:11

thousands of them. It is to say that

the education system in east

0:12:110:12:17

Jerusalem is one of the worst

education systems conditions led by

0:12:170:12:23

the Israeli authorities. It is to

say that those in Jerusalem,

0:12:230:12:28

Palestinians, not all of them are

free to get into a mosque.

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Demolition orders in east Jerusalem

but more also in other villages in

0:12:340:12:41

Arab villages, inside Israeli,

because of lack of planning and

0:12:410:12:45

housing. Do you know, Stephen, there

is a law for community villages law,

0:12:450:12:51

for preventing me, as an Israeli

citizen, Arab citizen, the living in

0:12:510:13:00

many villages. I can live in

Manhattan and London but not in

0:13:000:13:05

this.

A year saying, using the words

of that resolution from the UN in

0:13:050:13:11

1975, are you saying that you still

regarded as racism?

The practice of

0:13:110:13:18

Zionism daily is to say that Jews

are superior to non- Jews.

There was

0:13:180:13:28

a repeal, one of the only UN

resolutions to be repealed because

0:13:280:13:33

of a consensus across the world that

that language was an except verbal

0:13:330:13:37

and wrong. I am asking you whether

you still use that phrase.

Many

0:13:370:13:43

Palestinians inside Israel or

outside the green line, of the times

0:13:430:13:48

of Zionism because of racism because

of many aspects against non- Jews,

0:13:480:13:58

or Indigenous Palestinians.

This is

important because right now there is

0:13:580:14:04

a discussion both inside Israel and

outside the territories but also

0:14:040:14:07

among Palestinians and Arab Israelis

about what is going to happen if the

0:14:070:14:12

two state solution is dead and we

have discussed Donald Trump and the

0:14:120:14:16

current political situation and

nobody would pretend that the two

0:14:160:14:20

state solution looks alive right now

so there is a unitary state solution

0:14:200:14:27

and how and if there is one, do you

believe it would be acceptable for

0:14:270:14:33

the Jewish Israeli population to be

in a minority?

0:14:330:14:41

There are more talk about the

solution.

You even posited the

0:15:000:15:05

notion that you might run for Prime

Minister of the Unitarian strayed

0:15:050:15:09

from the Jordan River and he said it

was able run-off between me and Mr

0:15:090:15:13

Netanyahu, I would wind, no doubt

about it.

If this was the case, an

0:15:130:15:18

equal right would be there between

Jews and Arabs from the sea to the

0:15:180:15:24

river. A Palestinian would wind the

post of the Prime Minister.

I asked

0:15:240:15:30

you, can you countenance and you

think it is in any way realistic to

0:15:300:15:36

think that the Jewish population of

Israel will ever accept a situation

0:15:360:15:40

in which they are in a minority?

Under the resolution, as the

0:15:400:15:46

homeland for the Jews after the

Second World War, you understand

0:15:460:15:50

that. I believe better than most

Arabs because it made a very famous

0:15:500:15:54

speech understanding the impact of

the Holocaust on the Jewish people

0:15:540:15:57

and on that creation of the state of

Israel. Can you imagine a unitary

0:15:570:16:03

state where the Jewish population

isn't a minority?

I, as a victim, in

0:16:030:16:08

that speech, can tell you that I

realise that for the Israelis, it is

0:16:080:16:14

a nightmare to talk about equal

democratic state. That is why, when

0:16:140:16:20

you are giving two choices for them,

two state solution or one state

0:16:200:16:25

solution, there are immediately

choosing the third choice, which is

0:16:250:16:29

not there, the status quo. That is

why I am staying two state solution

0:16:290:16:33

is the ultimate solution that is

supporting. But the condition is

0:16:330:16:40

immediate ending of the occupation

and Israel is rearranging the

0:16:400:16:46

occupation.

But you don't just say

that. It's a very inflammatory

0:16:460:16:50

things. In an interview not so long

ago, you allowed your imagination to

0:16:500:16:54

run. You said, we will, if there is

to be a unitary state, we will annul

0:16:540:17:00

the declaration of independence from

1948. In its place, we will write a

0:17:000:17:05

simple declaration that represents

all citizens. He said it is

0:17:050:17:09

untenable for a democratic state to

have a declaration of independence

0:17:090:17:12

that is fundamentally Jewish. You

asked, what would the country's name

0:17:120:17:17

they? You said, I don't know. Its

Parliament will decide. What about

0:17:170:17:22

the flag? You said, yes, that will

have to change. When you say these

0:17:220:17:26

things, how do you think they

respond?

When is daily -- is

0:17:260:17:32

Israelis are killing Palestinians,

how will we react? It is a

0:17:320:17:36

democratic vision. I think any

democratic in the international

0:17:360:17:41

community, should respect my vision

of democracy. If there will not be

0:17:410:17:46

as two state solution, yes, I want

to be equal with Israeli Jews. I

0:17:460:17:50

want to be equal with anybody in Tel

Aviv. Nazareth. But I will never

0:17:500:17:57

accept to be inferior to any Israeli

Jews just because the state is

0:17:570:18:03

defining itself as a Jewish state.

Because defining yourself as Jewish

0:18:030:18:07

and democratic is an oxymoron. This

is an oxymoron that we are fighting

0:18:070:18:14

against day by day. It seems to me

your speech was based on empathy and

0:18:140:18:19

a genuine effort to understand the

Israeli mindset.

What aspect of the

0:18:190:18:23

Israeli mindset is that they see

more than a decade ago when the

0:18:230:18:27

Palestinians had a free election

that a majority at least in Gaza

0:18:270:18:31

voted quite clearly for harm us, a

movement that is dedicated in its

0:18:310:18:35

original constitution, the

destruction of the state of Israel

0:18:350:18:40

-- Hamas.

It is democracy.

Palestinian people, like in England

0:18:400:18:46

and Germany, and in France, like

even in the United States, who just

0:18:460:18:52

elected a very bizarre president,

weak, Palestinians, are free to

0:18:520:18:57

elect exactly what they want

Palestinians want.

Israelis are

0:18:570:19:03

going to listen to this and your

belief that the Palestinians can

0:19:030:19:07

choose Hamas if they and still

believe that there is any possible

0:19:070:19:12

reason why they should listen to you

talking about unitary state?

They

0:19:120:19:17

can listen to me talking about two

state solution. They are not

0:19:170:19:20

listening. No for that. And what is

Netanyahu proposing for Israel is an

0:19:200:19:29

Palestinians? More and more

confrontation, more friction, more

0:19:290:19:35

bloodshed. I am proposing peace, I

am proposing peace, freedom for

0:19:350:19:41

Palestinians and peaceful Israelis

and Palestinians.

It is challenging.

0:19:410:19:45

It is. If you wanted to build some

temperatures and build some

0:19:450:19:49

confidence, there are certain things

you could do. For a start, you could

0:19:490:19:54

denounce your fellow Arab-Israeli

ember of who is now in prison

0:19:540:19:59

because he was smuggling telephones

to Palestinian prisoners. What did

0:19:590:20:05

you make what he did, and how

disappointed were you in him?

The

0:20:050:20:18

13th MKs of the joint list, all of

us, were not using this way of

0:20:180:20:22

struggle in order to act as

parliamentarians. It is not the way.

0:20:220:20:26

He said though. We, myself and

others said so, and he is paying the

0:20:260:20:32

price in jail.

Why did you boycott

the funeral?

Because I carried my

0:20:320:20:42

condolences to this daughter...

No,

you didn't go to that general. What

0:20:420:20:47

kind of signal are you selling --

sending to the Israelis?

I obliged

0:20:470:20:53

to act exactly as the consensus, the

Israeli consensus is demanding from

0:20:530:21:00

me? That is a historical problem. I

can understand Israelis when they

0:21:000:21:06

cannot do something that hurt their

feelings. Please understand our

0:21:060:21:13

feelings as national leaders.

I

wonder whether you paid heed to the

0:21:130:21:16

words of the first Arab-Israeli to

be a Supreme Court justice, and that

0:21:160:21:21

tell you something about the Israeli

system. He served in the Supreme

0:21:210:21:26

Court, he was proud to do so, and to

what time he was leaving, he said,

0:21:260:21:31

yes, I complain a lot about the

treatment of Israelis, but I am also

0:21:310:21:36

complaining a lot about us, the

leaders of the community and we must

0:21:360:21:41

take responsibility for the

problems. Hasn't got a point there?

0:21:410:21:44

You spend so much time grandstanding

about the long-term prospect that a

0:21:440:21:48

peaceful solution between Arab,

between Palestinian and Israeli, you

0:21:480:21:53

don't spend much time trying to make

a better life for your constituent.

0:21:530:21:59

You were mistaken. 85% of the

activity is focused on social and

0:21:590:22:06

economic issues of our community,

and there is misleading coverage of

0:22:060:22:13

power at the tea. Yes, we are

responsible for the well-being of

0:22:130:22:20

our community. We should be much

more interested, focusing, of

0:22:200:22:29

violence in our community, which is

almost devastating.

It is a scourge,

0:22:290:22:35

particular violence against women

inside Arab community.

We are taking

0:22:350:22:41

part in every demonstration. Who

should emotion against that, who

0:22:410:22:47

should emotion about using weapons

and community events?

Myself. I

0:22:470:22:50

guess, that is what the Israelis, I

can hear the voices in my head. And

0:22:500:22:56

you are much freer to make those

protests and to demand better from

0:22:560:23:00

the community inside Israel that he

would be if you are living in a

0:23:000:23:04

village in the west Bank or indeed a

different Arab country.

In Syria or

0:23:040:23:09

Libya.

Say it. You can say it.

It is

a racist. You know why? To tell me

0:23:090:23:16

that because I am Arab that I should

move to Syria as they are demanding

0:23:160:23:21

day by day or I should compare

myself to third World countries,

0:23:210:23:26

none democratic, totalitarian

regimes, Israel is claiming it is

0:23:260:23:34

democracy, the control group and the

control state should be Sweden,

0:23:340:23:39

France, England, not Libya, not

Syria, not third states, third World

0:23:390:23:45

states in Africa or south America. I

want to be equal, exactly like

0:23:450:23:51

citizens in Tel Aviv and I do not

want to be compared with

0:23:510:23:57

totalitarian regimes, but with

democratic states will stop it is

0:23:570:24:00

the test. Can you accept the idea

that an Israeli citizen who is Arab

0:24:000:24:07

is willing to be equal?

It is a good

way to end this interview. Ahmad

0:24:070:24:18

Tibi, thank you very much for being

on HARDtalk.

0:24:180:24:24

Stephen speaks to Ahmad Tibi, veteran Arab-Israeli MP and one time advisor to Yasser Arafat. Donald Trump claims he can broker the deal of the century between Israel and Palestine. Instead, he seems to have entrenched the hostility. Is the Arab-Israeli experience a sign that the uneasy, messy status quo is the only viable response to the conflict between Jewish and Arab communities?