Mitchell Reports | November 21, 2012
>>> and we continue with our breaking news within the hour, be a cease-fire announced in cairo brokered in part by the new president of egypt , be president morsi, hillary clinton announcing it with the foreign minister there. joining me michael orrin, israel 's ambassador to the united states . we anticipate the prime minister is going to be speaking in jerusalem very shortly. let's find out what do you know is in the cease-fire? is there an agreement, for instance, for the hamas in gaza to stop firing rockets and is there any intention to back off, not invade presumably if it's a cease-fire there wouldn't be an invasion, but what about the blockade? what about opening access to gaza ?
>> hello, andrea. always good to be back. i can't go into many details but what i can say is prime minister netanyahu responded to a request from president obama to agree to the cease-fire which as you said will go into an effect in an hour or so and that -- and that israel will continue to reserve the right to take whatever means are necessary to defend itself, should hamas resume firing at our citizens. we have long-term interests and goals which include not only the cessation of the firing that has gone over the last week, the 1,500 rockets that have hit israel over the last eight days, but creating a situation where hamas and other terrorist groups in the gaza strip cannot open fire at will at us as they were doing in the past over the course of 2012 . we were hit by about 700 rockets. it paralyzed the whole country, at least half of the country. we can't have a situation where advanced weapons from iran, long range rockets are crossing into gaza from the sighmy peninsula.
>> what was said in congress, be president morsi is going to assume the role of policing this. he's taking responsibility in hillary clinton 's words for this. this is potential lay major step, a big breakthrough as martin was pointing out, the muslim brotherhood was the prejen ter of hamas . there's a close linkage there. he has domestic pressures. he is stepping up to the role, an international role, that we had not expected morsi to assume. what is your hope?
>> our hope in the past was egypt would fulfill a constructive role in the past it had fulfilled a constructive role and here it has, and we appreciate that contribution.
>> what does israel now want to see in terms of the long-range missiles? what proof do you need, what evidence do you need to see that the smuggling has stopped and that hamas is stepping up to its political responsibility to police itself and to govern before you will agree to take down the blockade?
>> well, we regard hamas as the government of gaza . it's responsible for what goes on in the strip from the shooting that comes out of the strip at israeli civilians. hamas has to step up to the plate, assume that responsibility, has to be accountable. that's very important for us. the block cade is not a full blockade.
>> it's a blockade from their perspective. food and medicine gets in.
>> we check ships to make sure there are no iranian arms on them. that's the extent. until iran stops shipping arms to terrorists shooting at our citizens we have to take that measure to defend ourselves.
>> what can you offer hamas in gaza in exchange for them stopping the rocket fire?
>> first of all they have to stop the rocket fire and then i think it will be further diplomacy, further talks to iron out the details. but, you know, basically, it's hamas has to fulfill its responsibility as the governing body if you will of gaza .
>> one of the things that has certainly been discussed coming out of this tragedy is that the israeli/palestinian peace talks, the track has been dormant. you have a decision between palestinians on the west bank and gaza , two feuding political entities, no partner as prime minister netanyahu has said, at the same time, ab be but mazen, mahmoud abbas , has been really reduced and almost delegitimized by what happened because hamas is now the stronger political entity.
>> well --
>> how do you deal with that?
>> certain degree it's a self-inflicted wound by president abbas. he's refused to sit down at the negotiating table with us. if he had sat down at the negotiating table with us three and a half years ago, we could have been well on our way to a two-state solution. he would be the president of an independent and internationally recognized state at peace with israel .
>> what if he proceeds next be week with what he told hillary clinton and she argued with him apparently in ramallah f he proceeds with a u.n. vote in the general assembly for statehood? what will be the impact?
>> the impact will not be good for the palestinians , not going to bring them closer to statehood, won't bring them closer to peace with us and may set us back significantly. israel has a great number of agreements with an entity called the palestinian authority during the 1993 oslo accords , we don't have any agreements with an entity called the palestinian state and the united states , which is a cosignatory on the 1993 oslo accords doesn't have any agreements with an entity called the palestinian state . all the agreements we have could be jeopardized. it could inflate palestinian expectations unrealistically and lead to unrest. we see it as perfectly, you know -- it's just unhelpful, unwise and could be very harmful. if mahmoud abbas wants to become again the central player it's simple, sit down, negotiate with us, become the president of an independent palestinian state at peace with israel .
>> the leafletting, which was supposedly telling gaz zans to get away from dangerous areas, resulted in people being displaced, people panicking, thinking there was going to be an invasion. can you speak to that and to the disproportion, disproportionate military might? we know that israel has been rocketed and the u.s. is standing with israel in this and that there is no excuse for rockets firing against civilians. clearly throughout israel . but the fact is, you have this densely populated area and people -- civilians dying because they are living, you know, side by side in the same buildings as hamas leaders that you take out?
>> that is the fault of hamas . hamas has put its fighters in the very midst of a densely populated area because they not only have a military strategy of trying to kill the maximum number of israeli citizens , they have a media strategy . they want us to fire back at them and if we injure pll civilians or -- palestinian civilians or kill them tragically, they can use that sensationalize, put the pictures on the newspaper and delegitimize us and deny us the right to defend ourselves. if we injure or god forbid kill palestinians for us that's a tragedy. if they kill israelis for them that's a victory. it's completely different set of rules for hamas and for israel . this time, we were able to reduce in this round of fighting -- the last round was in 2008 -- 2009 , a higher level of civilian casualties . we were able to pin poirnts some of our targeting much better. there are a number of palestinian casualties but between one half and two-thirds of the casualties are actually armed fighters. and not civilians. but again, we tried. through leafletting, tens of thousands of computer generated phone calls, sending text messages to civilians in areas where we knew hamas was embedded, giving them the chance to get out.
>> are you going to retaliate for the bombing of the bus in tel aviv ?
>> we don't know who was responsible yet for the bombing of the bus in tel aviv .
>> tif you find out -- be.
>> they handed out candy in the streets.
>> if you find out it was someone in gaza will you hit gaza ?
>> we'll find out who is responsible and we will ensure whoever tried to kill 22 people on a bus in tel aviv today, sure they will pass the price for doing that.
>> ambassador michael or rorrin, a busy and difficult time but we hope that somehow the violence will cease and the cease-fire will hold.