Sam Husseini questions Israeli Ambassador Ayalon and former Speaker Gingrich
Israeli Ambassador Daniel Ayalon and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich were guests on the FOX News Sunday talk show on August 6, 2006. Sam Husseini joined the media stake-out outside the studios and questioned both men alongside other journalists on the Israel-Hezbollah conflict.
SH: Human Rights Watch, Mr. Ambassador, released a report saying that youíre deliberately targeting civilians in Lebanon and, contrary to your statements, they found no instance in which Hezbollah used civilians as shields to protect from Israeli retaliation and have concluded that youíre involved ó that the Israeli government is involved in the commission of war crimes. Arenít you just ó havenít you just been falsifying what has been happening in Lebanon and totally contradicting these human rights reports?
DA: Well, I wouldnít give too much credence to this Human Watch Ė can you hear me now? I would say this report that you quoted is just something out of this earth. I mean, I donít know where they live. Itís a Ö
SH: They have people in Lebanon. They have researchers in LebanonÖ [unintelligible].
DA: I donít know who they have. Weíre also Ė weíre also in Lebanon. And if you see the difference is, you see the Hezbollah targets civilians and only civilians. They use this indiscriminate Katyusha rockets, which have been converted, their warheads have been converted into a terror weapon with all this ball-bearings just to kill civilians. Now they use it from apartments, they use it from mosques and from schoolyards. On the other hand, we are using only precision munitions, even at the compromise of achieving our mission fast. Many of our soldiers get killed because we are being very careful. So this report, I donít know what credence, itís absurd and itís totally false and I must say, I would question the motivations of them and who wrote it.
SH: Sir, this is from Human Rights Watch. They also put out a report criticizing Hezbollah. If you were a Hezbollah spokesperson I would be asking you that question. They are talking about you using cluster bombs, which Ė and targeting civilians indiscriminately. Arenít you involved in the commission of war crimes?
DA: No, not at all.
SH: Youíre a protagonist. How can you be believed as to whatís happening? This is an independent, very respected human rights group.
DA: Well itís not very respected to me anymore if they come up with such ignorant remarks which do not represent the truth and they donít know whatís going on if they write these things. I mean, it is quite obvious that we have a situation here of a terror organization who embeds itself.. Tell me, do you see of any Hezbollah camps in Lebanon?
SH: Human RightsÖ
DA: Does Human Rights see Ö can the HumanÖ
SH: Ö has found, and this is a quote, no cases in which Hezbollah deliberately used civilians as shields to protect themselves from IDF attacks. They went on to write about Qana and the day of the attack they did extensive questioningÖ [unintelligible].
DA: Were they there? Were they there? Theyíre writingÖ noÖ. yes, I was there. We were there. Israeli soldiers were there. No, no, no, Iím sorry.
SH: Israeli soldiers were not on the ground. They would have been killed.
DA: Iíll ask you a simple question and for the Human Rights. Can they direct us, you or me, or the international community to a single base of Hezbollah? Does Hezbollah have bases? No.
SH: They talk about Hezbollah having caches in certain places.
DA: Yeah. Do they have bases? No
SH: They talk about Hezbollah firing from Ö
DA: Hezbollah fires fromÖ Hezbollah fires from mosquesÖHezbollah firesÖ Iím telling you.
SH: They fire from forests. They fire from orchards.
DA: And they fire from schoolyards and they fire from UN positions.
SH: Itís absolutely contrary toÖ
DA: Itís just too bad that we work about something that you obviously donít know and they obviously donít know. Iím sorry about it. The fact that itís written over there doesnít make it true. I think the reality on the ground speaks for itself. And the reality on the ground is that they target civilians and we target Hezbollah. The fact that Hezbollah is embedded among Lebanese civilians is a problem, but go ask the Lebanese about it and they will tell you.
SH: Iíve also talked to Human Rights and toÖ
Woman: What about the bombing of missionaries where there are no Hezbollah? What is the point of that?
DA: What was specifically targeted was bridges that the Hezbollah used for redirecting supplies from Syria and Iran to them. And after we took out the Western bridges that cut off supply from Syria to Lebanon from the Damascus-Beirut road, they have come from the north in a different area and this is what we took out. Our aim is to cut off supply of this deadly weapons from Iran and Syria to the Hezbollah. This is, by the way, specifically what the UN Resolution calls for, an arms embargo, and somebody has to do it. We prefer that an international force is the one to do it, but until they are installed in place, we have to do it to protect ourselves and ultimately to save the Lebanese from the Hezbollah and bring Lebanon back to the Lebanese.
Woman: You said earlier today you would not stop fighting or honor the ceasefire until Hezbollah is disarmed. Is that still your position?
DA: Well, this is what the UN Resolution calls for, to honor the ceasefire meaning that you have to cease of course all hostilities, you have to return to Israel the kidnapped soldiers which are hostages and also to have in place a robust force to disarm the Hezbollah. By the way, this is not a new resolution, a new concept. 1559 from 2004 called for dismantling the HezbollahÖ it was not done. 2000, May 2000, when Israel pulled out of Lebanon completely, fulfilling Resolution 425, called also for dismantling the Hezbollah. It was not done. 1989 The Tayf Agreement in Saudi Arabia called for the dismantling of the Hezbollah. It wasnít done. So itís time for the international community to show credibility not to make a mockery of its own resolutions, otherwise itís going to have far-reaching consequences, adverse consequences, to Iran, North Korea, and anywhere else. This is a time to fulfill this resolution to the dot, letter and spirit and that it disarming the Hezbollah. Itís either an international force who will do it and until they can do it, we will have to do it and this is what weíre doing right now.
Re: And you wonít stop until they are disarmed. You wonít stop fighting.
DA: Unless we have a robust international force that can take over and disarm them.
SH: Resolution 1559 also talks about the sovereignty Ė protecting the sovereignty of Lebanon. Youíre in Lebanon. Thatís violatingÖ [unintelligible].
DA: Why are we in Lebanon? Were we in Lebanon three weeks ago? Why are we in Lebanon? Because we were provoked, we were attacked over international borders, they kidnapped our soldiers, they shelled our cities and our civilians. This is the only reason that we are there. It is a matter of self-defense, Article 51 of the UN Charter calls for self-defense, and I think the entire world justifies us for that.
SH: Were there anyÖ Iím sorry, a follow-up on that. Were there any Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace prior to the taking of the soldiers by Hezbollah? And wasnít Israel involved in assassination in Lebanon back inÖ
DA: Not at all.
SH: Ö assassinated Hezbollah [unintelligible].
DA: Not at all. I think you have to read your history. Iím sorry, IÖ
SH: Ö at the time predicted that that would provoke Hezbollah to [unintelligible].
DA: I think thatís quite ridiculous. I better not Ė get your facts.
SH: No, I want an answer. Were there any Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace prior to Hezbollah capturing the soldiers?
DA: I wish there were more because now we see that we lack intelligence of the buildup.
SH: So there were.
DA: No. There were not.
SH: So there were violations of Lebanese airspace. Were there or were there not?
DA: No. Iíll tell you why.
SH: There were no violations of Lebanese airspace.
DA: No, there were not. Iíll tell you why.
SH: You didnít violate Lebanese airspace prior.
DA: No. Who violated ó who violated the integrity and sovereignty of Lebanon was the Hezbollah, Iran and Syria. So we had to Ö no Ö we had to defend ourselves from the Hezbollah, Syria and Lebanon Ė and Syria and Iran who were in Lebanon. If Iran wasnít in Lebanon, if Hezbollah was dismantled according to 1559, if the Syrians were not shipping arms to Hezbollah, there were no needs of any self-defense measures by us including specific flights of IAF or anything else.
SH: Why does Israel refuse to acknowledge its possession of nuclear weapons and Mordecai Vanunu, the Israeli whistleblower has suggested a trade-off where you have a nuclear-free Middle East
DA: Sir, you are talking and, uh..
SH: Isnít Israelís nuclear possession provocative in the region?
DA: Who says we have nuclear possession? Have we ever said that? The only thing we saidÖ
SH: Why donít you acknowledge that you do?
DA: The only thing we said, the only thing we said that Israel will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East. This has been our position all along. Israel is the only country, unfortunately, who has been threatened. Its survival was at stake as countries in the Middle East are calling for its demise. So we have this what you call an ambiguous or policy of ambiguity as a policy of national defense.
SH: Isnít Iran trying to replicate that by havingÖ?
DA: Is anybody threatening Iranís survival? Did we say that Iran should be decimated? Itís Iran that says Israel should be decimated. So I think you have to get your facts correctly and sift them out. Iím sorry itís just a futile conversation here.
SH: Are you using cluster bombs in Lebanon?
DA: No we are not. We are not using anything which is not approved by the UN conventions and Charters.
SH: Why did you bomb the electrical facilities in Lebanon?
DA: Lebanon has electric capabilities, which is running. They have running water. We are not targeting any of the infrastructures. We could have done a lot of damage which we are not doing specifically because we are very much concerned about the humanitarian conditions over there.
SH: Youíve been quoting from Resolution 1559. Isnít Israel, and hasnít it been for a long time, in violation of dozens of UN Security Resolutions? For example, 446, 451, 465 regarding Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories?
DA: Not at all. I think you mix up between resolutions which are enforceable, like UN Security Council, and general assembly resolutions.
SH: [unintelligible] Iím naming them. 446, 451, 465. All Security Council Resolutions.
DA: Iíll tell you why. I donít know why you donít read your history. Itís very recent history. We pulled out of Gaza completely dismantling 21Ö
SH: [unintelligible] the West Bank
DA: Yes, well in the West Bank also. We have offered to leave the West Bank. There was a Camp David summit in 2000 where Ehud Barak, Prime Minister, offered to give most of the West Bank to the Palestinians. They refused and attacked us, so it takes 2 to fulfill resolutions.
SH: You withdrew from Gaza unilaterally. Why canít you withdraw from the West Bank unilaterally?
DA: Who said we will not? We are still working on that. Thank you very much.