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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Transcript of Peres speech at World Economic Forum in Davos

Here is what Shimon Peres said last week that so upset Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, causing him to walk out. Here is also Erdogan's sputtering response.

The only place I have found this was at a site called Palestine Think Tank which is heavily anti-Zionist, but the transcript appears to be accurate.
Well, thank you Mr. Chairman, I heard the distinguished speakers talking about Israel and I couldn’t recognize the picture of the country that they know. I want to tell the beginning. It’s very difficult when a democratic country has to confront an illegal terroristic group. Whatever we do is being photographed; whatever they do, nobody sees. For example, when you throw a rocket on a settlement in Israel, it’s not being photographed. You cannot see the mother trying to defend her child the whole night, and their sleepless night. Did you ever see on television a sleepless night?

I must respect for you Mr. Prime Minister, but I must put things as they really are.

Let me start with democracy. First of all, who was elected by the Palestinians, but Mr. Abbas, who is called Abu Mazen. Sixty-two percent of the Palestinians voted for him to be the President of the Palestinian people, and we negotiate with him. Hamas participated in the elections but have a very unique idea about democracy. They think a democracy is a story of one day in four years you go through the election. After the elections you can start to shoot and kill and threaten. Finished. Democracy is not a matter of elections. It is a civilization and I want to conflict to your words by quoting from the Hamas; I won’t be going to interrupt the stories? But Hamas concerns us; Hamas published a charter; let me just read two lines, three lines from it, from the Hamas Charter. “The day of judgment will not come about until the Muslims kill the Jews, when the Jews will hide behind stones and trees, there is no solution for peace initiative, proposals, international conferences are all a waste of time.” This is an official charter. I don’t know about which Hamas you are talking?

Now about the proportions. In the last eight years, well I mean, I hate to say it, but since you mentioned it, let me give the other picture, too. Israel lost hundred, thousand hundred sixty-seven lives from terrorists, eight thousand five hundred were wounded. It wasn’t done in twenty days, it was done in several years. We restrained all the time. And then since the last four years when Hamas took over Gaza, 5500 rockets, and 4000 mortars, shells were fired upon civilian life in Israel at random: they didn’t care if it was a kindergarten, if it’s a [ ]we didn’t answer. For that reason, the ceasefire idea, Mr. Prime Minister, was very strange in our views. We never started fire. And we told the Palestinians time and again, “Don’t fire, and there won’t be fire; we are not doing we never started!” And who broke…and oh by the way, we didn’t have a formal agreement about the ceasefire, they announced, and the Palestinians said, “It’s over.” They broke it. And when the Prime Minister was at your place four days before the operations started, the government of Israel didn’t yet to decide to take actions against it.

Now let me… I want you to listen because you watch all of your television, I can understand your feelings.

Israel left Gaza completely, no occupation. We took out all of our soldiers from Gaza, all of our civilians. People are talking about settlements, we took out from Gaza all the settlements and all the settlers, fifteen thousand of them. Nobody forced us, it was our own choice. We had to mobilize forty-five thousand policemen to bring them back home, at the cost of 2.5 billion dollars.

I want to understand why did they fight rockets against us? What for? There was not any siege against Gaza. All the passages were open. Not only that, we participated in investing money in Gaza, to develop a, an agriculture. We at Peres Center, we ourselves put in twenty thousand dollars, twenty million dollars, sorry, to build green houses, to develop strawberries, the export of strawberries, excellent strawberries, flowers.

Jimmy Wolfensohn who was representative of the Quartet, took from his own pocket 5 million dollars to participate in it. They destroyed it. Why? They bombed all the passages. Why? Why did they fire at us, what did they want?" We didn't occupy, there was never a day of starvation in Gaza! By the way, Israel is the supplier of water daily to Gaza, Israel is the supplier of fuel to Gaza, the only thing we didn't permit to bring in was rockets from Iran! And they build tunnels to do it! And you know, we also have women and children, and they want to sleep at night. Do you know what it means, every day, almost hundred rockets falling at random, a million people have had to be under shelter. They came to the government and said "What happened to you? We want have security, why do you permit to happen it? " And I want anyone telling me, clearly, what were the reasons for the attack? What were the purposes of the attack? Peace? We make peace with Egypt, not by arms, by agreement and negotiation, and we met all of the requests of Egypt. We made peace with Jordan the same, we gave back all the land and all the water. We opened with the Palestinians, and we told them, that we are for a Palestinian state, I started in Oslo, against the majority maybe, of our people that didn't agree And all the time, you know Mr. Prime Minister, while you have had to wait, because many busses that came from the West Bank to Jerusalem were full of dynamite. I was then Prime Minister, I saw it with my own eyes, the blood and the bodies. You know, I don't have to watch television, and when I came in there were thousands of people shouting at me "Traitor, killer, look at what you did to us!" You must, there are many details you have to know. Israel is sixty-years old, do you know any other country, that in sixty-years has had to go through seven wars, two Intifadas, an ongoing boycott? What, why? And in spite of it, we made peace with Egypt. I have the highest respect for President Mubarak. By the way, President Mubarak accused Hamas, not us. And President Mubarak knows the situation not less as you Mr. Prime Minister. And President Abbas knows the situation not less than you do, and he accused Hamas not us. And then mothers and children came to the government and asked what will happen? A million people every night have had to hide themselves in shelters, mothers with sleepless nights, what do you really mean? By the way, I have never saw anyone demonstrating against those missiles! That was ok Nobody said a word. And we didn't answer, a day in and a day out, a year in a year out, there's a limit to it.


And by the way, I have much respect for the Secretary General, he used to be and I hope we're still a friend, I appreciate very much the Arab initiative, but there is a problem in it, I don't want to hide it. The problem is not the Arab world, the problem is the Iranian ambition to govern the Middle East. They supplied the rockets to Hezbollah, they supplied the rockets to Hamas, they are controversially the Arab making, and you know we didn't have a choice. The leader of Hezbollah, Nasrallah says: "Would I know that Israel will react so strongly, we wouldn't have started". Thank you very much. And then come the Mashaal, the leader of Hamas and said: "Israel reacted too strongly." What did you expect us to do, I don't understand? What would any country do? What would you do if it you would happen in Istanbul every night ten rockets, a hundred rockets?


And we never gave up, all my life as you said, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate it, I am fighting for peace, what we did is not…the thing that we wanted to do… It's not our choice, our choice is peace. What we did is because the lack of a choice, we were threatened with a choice. Would you vote for such a convention, to kill the Jews? OK, those are words, but to kill the Jews and send rockets to kill them. What you want us to do? We started to negotiate with Mr. Arafat, with much respect, it wasn't simple. The PLO was in the beginning a terroristic organization. Mr. Arafat agreed to stop terror and go on to negotiations. By the way, what ever was achieved peacefully, positively, was achieved not by rockets, not by force, not by power, but by negotiations. It takes time, it takes time. It's a very complicated country. It's a small country with three religions, with a lot of history. With different ethnicities, it's not simple. We made peace, once, twice, now we are negotiating with the Palestinians. There was a crisis among the Palestinians, we don't intend to be the one that decide that the Palestinians be united or not. As long as Hamas did not rebel against the Fatah, it was not our business, we didn't say a word.

You know what? I am talking about Israel, look what the people, of the Palestinian people, the Secretary General of Fatah is saying about Hamas, three days ago.His name is Yasser Abd Rabbo, a Palestinian, a secretary general of the PLO, of the executive committee, and I quote him, I quote him three days ago: "Hamas has turned Gaza, Gaza schools and mosques, all universities into centers of detention, interrogation and torture and torture. Dozens have been shot in their legs, beaten savagely, and had their bones broken, broken. Hamas plundered trucks bringing …and distributes it only to…the food.. only to the supporters of their movement." They didn't give the food to the people of Fatah. They killed hundred leaders of Fatah in full daylight. They throw them from the roofs. What do you really mean? Is that the matter of definitions? Israel does not want to shoot anybody, for us all children are as important as one can think of. I created the Peres Center, all the money we have collected went to the cure of children. Palestinian children. They didn't have insurance, they didn't have hospitals, in five years we have brought to Israel 5500 Palestinian children and their mothers to be cured. By the way, there is no hospital today in Israel that does not have Arab doctors, so the children can communicate with the doctors in the Israeli hospitals. That is our choice, to touch a child. But if you put a child, if you put bombs in the kindergarten, and if you hide yourselves behind innocent families, and before we shell, we, before we try to shell anybody, we try and telephone the people, we say, please leave the place. We don't want to hurt you. We made during those twenty days, 250,000 telephone calls before we shoot. What could we do, what was our choice? And what would any government do?

I am very much sorry Mr. Secretary General about the United Nations' building, according to our records, not by your knowledge, they started to shoot from there, and by the way, Europe, you bombed Kosovo, and you hit the Chinese embassy, did you want to? And hundreds of civilian people were killed in the bombing to, That's Ok. So please, I want to speak clearly, Israel does not need a ceasefire, because we never started a bullet and we shall never do it.

And we shall never do it, and the minute they stop shooting there will be a ceasefire, we don't need anything else. Every moment, every day we are not interested in fire; we are not interested in hurting or killing anybody.

Now about the peace process. First of all I want to say that it was a great move on the side of the Secretary General of the Arab League to introduce the Arab Initiative. I think that was a very positive move in a bitter history of misunderstanding and confrontations. The problems we will facing well the following: a) we started to negotiate directly with the Palestinians. President Mubarak told me, "Look, finish you negotiations with the Palestinians we shall consider as the first move to an overall peace." We are negotiating and I think we made headway in extremely complicated issue. They call on this issue of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is not a piece of land. Jerusalem is fire. There are three different religions and there are different streams in every religion, and people are fighting about every window, every door. It's easy to say "make an agreement," we are trying to find the way. We told the Palestinians that we are ready really to accept [unintelligible], which means ready to return most almost all of the land of the West Bank to them. Gaza we left completely. What is there to fight? So the ceasefire is as far as this is concerned is not a problem for us. We never started, we should never start fire and when they fired against us we replied, but after a great restrain and thousands of people were killed too. They weren't killed in a concentrated manner. So what? It doesn't matter.

I think that what we have to do, and by the way I'm for the restoration of Gaza, we have nothing there wasn't a day that we didn't supply water and oil. I personally read every week a report about the humanitarian situation in Gaza. If something is missing the government and myself we're intervening to make sure there will be fuel and food. The tragedy of Gaza is not Israel, it's Hamas, who decreed a dictatorship, a very ugly one and they build the problem of the crossing, now is not because we want to control the supply of food or building material or medical. They build a tunnels to bring in those missiles and they build an underground system of tunnels, well by the way the leaders hide themselves there and they forgot the people. I think, yes, we would like to see Gaza flourishing- Gaza is a small place with an intelligent people. When I started to talk with Mr. Arafat we took as an example Singapore. Gaza together with the West Bank are nine times larger than Singapore and Singapore there are more people than in Gaza and the West Bank. Today the problem is not land but really education and Gaza is not our enemy, and the people in Gaza are not our enemies, and we want to live with them in peace. We don't have hatred and we don't have plans for that reason we left Gaza and we are for restoring the life in Gaza but without dictators and without shooting not only us but the people of Fatah…

Moderator: We might end there… Just one minute

Shimon Peres: And then want to renew negotiations with the authorized Palestinian authority. We made headway. We want to start right away, we want to do it with the Quartet, we want to do it straight away, we don't want to waste time. Our aim is peace not war and when we win a war we don't consider it as a victory. For us victory is peace not war. We have power we should never use power unless we don't have another choice and when we have a choice we want peace and I think that Hezbollah has learnt the lesson they stop shooting, nobody stop them to shoot but our reaction. I hope that Hamas will also have lesson they will stop shooting and start talking everything that we can achieve is by talking not by shooting and that was and that is and that will remain the position of Israel.

Thank you sir.

Moderator: This has been a powerful and passionate debate. It's a debate that tonight can go on for hours but we have already gone well past our closing time. I mean…

Erdogan: One minute.

Moderator: Mr. Prime Minister…. with apologies to Mr. Prime Minister Erdogan…

Erdogan: One minute, one minute, one minute…

Moderator: Well, I…

Erdogan: One minute! It can't be! One minute! One minute!

Moderator: Ok, but I'm gonna hold you to the one minute please.

Erdogan: Dear Mr. Peres, you are older than I am. And you have a very strong voice. I feel that you feel guilty and that's why your voice was so loud. My voice is not going to be so loud because you know what I'm going to tell you. You know very well how to kill. I know very well how you killed and murdered children on the beaches [of Gaza]. There are two people, two former Prime Ministers of your country, who said something very significant to me. One of them said: "When I entered Palestine in a tank I was happy." When the tanks entered Palestine they were happy. That's how some of your Prime Ministers felt. Here you're talking about figures. I can give you names, perhaps some of you feel curious. I condemn the ones who applaud cruelty. Because applauding these people who have murdered children is a crime against humanity. We can't overlook that reality. Look, here I have taken many notes [about Peres intervention] but now I don't have the possibility to answer them all. I only will tell you two more things about this issue. The first one…

Moderator: Prime Minister, we can't start the debate again.

Erdogan: Excuse me. The first one, the first one…

Moderator: I'm sorry…

Erdogan: Don't interrupt me.

Moderator: We really do need to get people to dinner.

Erdogan: The Torah's 6th Commandament says: Thou Shalt Not Kill. But they have killed Palestinians. The second thing, look, is very interesting. Gilad Atzmon: "Israel's barbarity is way beyond cruelty." He's Jewish. Then, there is international relations professor from Oxford University Avi Shlaim, who served in the Israeli army. He has said the following in the English newspaper The Guardian: "Israel is a rogue state".

Moderator: Prime Minister, Prime Minister. I wanna ask to our host. Thanks.

Erdogan: I also want to thank him as for me it's finished. For me, for me Davos is finished. I will not come back again to Davos, you should know, here is finished. You don't let me speak. He's been talking for 25 minutes, and I only could talk 12 minutes. It can't be. [He gets up and goes away, the Secretary of the Arab League shakes his hand].

By the way, Erdogan did speak for 12 minutes, but so did Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, so only Peres had a chance to speak for Israel.

And while I didn't reproduce Erdogan's speech, it had some less-than-truthful passages like "but when the ceasefire ended, 6 months later there were no rocket attacks at that point."