The following is a transcript of an interview with Husam Zomlot, Palestinian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, that aired on Nov. 5, 2023.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to Face the Nation. Husam Zomlot is the Palestinian Authority ambassador to the United Kingdom. He joins us from London this morning. Ambassador, thank you for joining us. You were most recently also the representative of the Palestinian Authority here in the United States. Secretary Blinken was in Ramallah today, there were no public statements made. Was this a tense meeting with your President?
AMBASSADOR HUSAM ZOMLOT, HEAD OF THE PALESTINIAN MISSION TO THE UK: Yes, because there are differences. Our president demanded an immediate ceasefire to the atrocious, murderous assault by Israel, on our civilians, on our people. This is not a war against Hamas. It’s clear since it started, it’s a war against our people, not only in Gaza, by the way, but also in the West Bank. 10,000 innocent civilians, almost half of them are children. And therefore, this is the key point now, not only because we want to stop the atrocities, the carnage, the deliberate killing of people, but also, we don’t want this to spread over. Every minute we wait, there is a risk of spreading over. And thirdly, we need to see the U.S. playing the role of an honest mediator, not adopting the Israeli narrative and the Israeli line, given how hysteric and, you know, with genocidal rhetoric coming out of Tel Aviv right now, we needed a grown up in the room and that is the U.S. Unfortunately, we haven’t heard that. And that’s why we did not come up with a joint statement. We had some good ideas from the Secretary of State Blinken, about the future. We had his commitment to a political resolution that will bring about an end to Israel’s occupation, a comprehensive one that includes the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Palestine. And we agree with all of that, but there will be a time to discuss that. Now is the time to stop the barrels of the gun, to stop the murder of civilians–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you’re talking about–
AMBASSADOR ZOMLOT: — And this whole talk Margaret about pauses- pauses, humanitarian pauses is simply irresponsible. Pauses of crimes against humanity. So, you- we are going to pause for six hours killing our children, and then resume killing the children? I mean, this, this doesn’t stand even international law.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, let me ask–
AMBASSADOR ZOMLOT: — So yes there are disagreements, and we seek more.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Let me interrupt you here and say, you know, the deputy national security adviser to the President gave the Palestinian Authority credit for maintaining stability in the West Bank today. Israeli forces say they detained 1200 people since October 7. 740 of them associated with Hamas in the West Bank. So how stable is the West Bank in the Palestinian Authority right now?
AMBASSADOR ZOMLOT: It is not stable and that’s not an accurate description of the situation in the West Bank. Our people in the West Bank, all over, are subjected to attacks by the settler militias that your house- White House and Secretary of State spoke about. It’s very volatile and dangerous. Many, many Palestinians over the last three weeks, you’re talking about more than 134, the last number I got, killed by Israeli- illegal Israeli militias, and the Israeli army. We’re talking about provocations and Jerusalem, and you know, how volatile the situation in- in Jerusalem, and you’re talking about an assault against our people everywhere. So, this isn’t about West Bank and Gaza, the West Bank and Gaza are subjected to the very same exercise now–
MARGARET BRENNAN: — Understood. But I want to–
AMBASSADOR ZOMLOT: — Allow me, allow me.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I am asking- Let me ask you about your–
AMBASSADOR ZOMLOT: Allow me Margaret–
MARGARET BRENNAN: — Let me ask you about your government, because there’s a serious conversation being had by American diplomats about the Palestinian Authority taking on a role of governing in Gaza as well. So, talk to me about that, because we just heard, you know, that you have a financial problem right now, in part because the Israeli government is withholding some of the tax revenues and claiming they’re doing it because the Palestinian Authority hasn’t condemned Hamas adequately and those October 7 attacks. So, do you want to clear the air and clearly condemn the attack and Hamas today?
AMBASSADOR ZOMLOT: No, I want to clear the record. First of all, the Palestinian Authority is not what represents the Palestinian people. It’s the PLO. It’s the Palestine Liberation Organization. I represented the PLO in Washington now I represent the PLO in- in London. The PA does not have external arms. The sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people is the PLO number two. Let me clarify another matter. It’s the state of Palestine that will take over and protect its people and the West Bank in Jerusalem and in Gaza once the Palestinian occupied territory is liberated. Number three, it is the opportunity for the US to be the peacemaker–
MARGARET BRENNAN: — I am sure you are concerned about that tax revenue–
AMBASSADOR ZOMLOT: — Number one, to de-designate. Let me, let me- de-designate.–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you want to clear the air and condemn–
AMBASSADOR ZOMLOT: De-designate the PLO from the terrorists list in the U.S. Congress. He- your Secretary of State just shake the hand of the- of the head of the President of the PLO, after 30 years of signing the Oslo Accords, after 30 years of committing to international law and negotiations, the U.S. should do that. The US should recognize the state of Palestine and allow us to be a full member in the UN and the U.S. must immediately stop voting- vetoing sorry, attempts at accountability. This–
MARGARET BRENNAN: — These are decades worth of problems. I’m just asked with this one specific issue on October 7 and the tax revenue–
AMBASSADOR ZOMLOT: — No, no, no. Not the case, not the case, not- because- it’s the result of us not really focusing on the root- root cause. This is the moment of the US to play the role–
MARGARET BRENNAN: — I understand there are deep root causes but on that specific condemnation, it would just be a very quick answer.
AMBASSADOR ZOMLOT: And allow me, Margaret, because I watched your interview with the Israeli ambassador, and he said two things are very important. He said, you know, those are unintended consequences, the 10,000 innocent people, the almost 5,000 children. I want to also clear the record here. This is deliberate and this has been the Israeli military doctrine since its establishment hitting the civilians. So, they put pressure on the fighters from the time of the Nakba, 1948, pushing out ethnically cleansing two thirds of the nation to Beirut and sub-Russia and Turkey–
MARGARET BRENNAN:– I understand that.
AMBASSADOR ZOMLOT:– To Gaza and everywhere. This is a military doctrine. Number two, he- Israel commits to international law. If they commit to international law, this is not a war. A war does not happen between an occupied and occupier. This is an oppression and repression of our people. Wars only happen between two sovereign states. So, this is a moment when you’re empowered the state of Palestine that will be able to protect its people, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We have to leave the conversation there. But it’s very clear that it’s really the United States talking about a peace settlement- two state solutions, and you did not clearly condemn that. So, Ambassador, thank you for sharing the Palestinian point of view. We have to leave it there. Thank you. We’ll be right back.