Israelis and Palestinians Tackle the Big Issues

Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad debates Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni

December 12, 2010, 7:35 AM

Dec. 12, 2010— -- In a rare interview with Christiane Amanpour, a top Palestinian official and a top Israeli official discussed the big issues of Middle East peace.

Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, said he needed more specific detail from the Israelis for the process to move forward since, he said, the Palestinians had already told the U.S. where they stand on the big issues.

"In order to give the process the kind of credibility that's required is for us to really know, with precision, where it is that the government of Israel stands on the fundamental issue of what it is that's meant by an end to Israeli occupation. What is it that's meant by a state of Palestine," he said.

Amanpour, the anchor of "This Week," asked Fayyad if his government planned to declare a Palestinian state unilaterally.

"What we are committed to is statehood," he said. "Not a declaration of statehood, we're looking for a state. We did make a declaration of statehood [in] 1988. This time we're looking for a real state on the ground."

Argentina and Brazil recently recognized the Palestinian territories within the 1967 borders as an independent state.

Livni: Peace Treaty for Israel Not "Favor" for Obama

Tzipi Livni, the former foreign minister and the leader of the Israeli opposition party Kadima, said that it was a mistake for Israel to reject the recent U.S. request for a 90-day freeze on settlement building activity.

"I believe that the relations between Israel and the United States are existential to the future of the state of Israel," she told Amanpour. "In choosing between building more buildings or making peace, I prefer to make peace."

"I believe that [a] peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians is in [the] Israeli interest -- it's not a favor to President Obama," Livni said. "Israel needs to make these kind of decisions in order to live in peace."

Livni, who is not a member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's governing coalition, said her beliefs were not in line with those of the current government. "My views about the peace process and the need to achieve peace are different from this coalition."

"I offered Netanyahu in the past -- more than once -- to have a different coalition that can not only speak about the idea of two states for two peoples, but also translate it into peace treaty with the Palestinians. He decided to have this coalition, unfortunately," she said.

Should the U.S. Offer a Plan for Peace?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday that the United States "would offer [its] own ideas and bridging proposals when appropriate" to Palestinians and Israelis. Amanpour asked Livni about Clinton's statement.

"That's one step before offering a plan," the anchor said. "Do you look forward to the United States offering bridging proposals on these core issues?"

"I believe that the best thing for Israel is to negotiate, to make the decisions, and to make the deal itself," Livni replied, pivoting away from the question.

Amanpour pressed her -- would she be comfortable with U.S. bridging proposals?

"It depends on the substance" of them, she said, adding that they would have to be in the interest of Israel.

But, Livni insisted, "Not everything is a zero-sum game. Not everything which is pro-Israel is anti-Palestinian and vice versa."

Fayyad said he would welcome bridging proposals from the U.S. if they became necessary.

"It may be unavoidable, actually, for the United States acting as a broker at some point to come in with bridging proposals so we make this happen," the Prime Minister said.

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