- What do you think today, if the Oslo agreement Norway contributed to in 1993-95?
- At that time, our Palestinian leadership was quite incompetent. I call it all an asymmetric trap. We ended up getting smaller and smaller, where the asymmetric divide became larger. We were not equal, but were considered inferior. Like everyone, I prefer that others see me with equality in mind.
- Interestingly enough, is the French "freedom, equality, brotherhood", here in the Middle East said with equality first?
- That's exactly what I told you about being different, but similar. We can accept our differences, but must at the same time accept the necessity of the principle of equality. That means considering ourselves right from the start. Of the three, equality, freedom and brotherhood, neither can stand there alone, without the others.
- But this happened in Oslo?
- Although there have been some improvements in the last 20-30 years, we can not accept living in a country as citizens without all the rights as others. That was probably what Oslo was trying to do.
The question is whether a gradual step-by-step implementation of a Palestinian state is correct. Israel has proven to take advantage of the situation, by taking more and more. You have to be careful about what you say yes to. And the facts on the ground have shown a big difference between what Israel does and we do.
The UN, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund confirmed that we were working.
- Israeli Ehud Barak mentioned you in a recent interview I did in positive terms. Did you change in your time leading a lot on the ground, and especially financially?
- We documented in 2009 that we had everything in place for a Palestinian state – with the necessary institutions required. We implemented 2800 local development programs and projects around the country. Like schools, hospitals, health trusts, and power supplies – to meet people's needs. Both the UN, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund confirmed that we worked.
- Yes, at that time, our Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre also wrote the same thing in the New York Times.
- Yes, but it was clearly not enough for Israel that we showed that we were "worthy" to run our own state. We obviously did not deserve as a free proud people a country for ourselves!
- Barak, also mentioned that at Camp David that he offered the Palestinians as much as 92 percent, but Arafat did not accept it. Why?
- But 92 percent of the territory occupied in 1967, is around 22 percent of historic Palestine. Nevertheless, around 1998 we were willing to accept something like this.
- So why did it not happen at Camp David?
- I think the main reason was the proposal over Jerusalem. Even though I was not there, I think that was the key point Arafat did not agree on. What Israel reached as a maximum was too far from the Palestinian minimum one could accept.
Previously unpublished film interview. From the Palestine Annex June 2020.