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Sharpton on Arafat / Terrorists
Secondly, in the Middle East, it's not a question of terrorists. Who defines terrorists? Today's terrorist is tomorrow's friend. We were the ones that worked with Saddam Hussein. The United States worked with bin Laden. I went in 2001 and met with Arafat .... Would anyone here meet with Arafat, in terms of trying to get peace in the Middle East? (Washington Post, October 27, 2003)
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. You took Senator Lieberman on. You said—and tell me if I'm wrong—but that if you were president, you would speak, you would deal directly with Arafat? Is that right? And, if so, what would you—I mean tell me how you'd do this.
SHARPTON: What I said was—he said we shouldn't meet with terrorists, and I said are you—first of all, define who the terrorists are, and, second of all, are you saying you wouldn't meet with the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mr. Arafat, if it meant that you would be leading toward a peaceful resolution, are you attacking Bill Clinton for meeting with Yasser Arafat?
I went to Israel and the Israeli Foreign Minister Peres told me how to talk to Arafat, and I did, and I wanted him to define that since he had went there in his statement that he would not deal with terrorists. I think that it's important that we understand what the candidates are saying and whether or not we are really willing to do what is necessary to try to establish a peace and a just and balanced policy in the Middle East.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is Arafat part of the problem in your mind or part of the solution?
SHARPTON: I think that one can negotiate with those on all sides and assume that there has been serious problems on the Palestinian side many feel Arafat instigated, but I also think that the solutions have not been achievable without him being part of the discussions.
VAN SUSTEREN: But there was—but he wouldn't even accept it when President Clinton attempted to do that. I mean that didn't work with President Clinton.
SHARPTON: Well, first of all, it did not work but it has not worked eliminating him. We started dealing with another prime minister. He was able to get that prime minister out. I think that we've got to deal realistically, that we must try to find some level of peace and some level of balance, and we must do that in a situation that the people that are at the table can deliver what they promised. I don't know... (Source: FOX News with Greta Van Susteren, 10/27/03)
Sharpton on a "balanced approach"
In an interview with finalcall.com (the Nation of Islam's newsletter) Sharpton said, “solutions [to the Israeli –Palestinian conflict] have to take on a balanced approach. The United States and others cannot go in without dealing with the balanced approach. I must say, Secretary Powell has begun talking more balanced of late but clearly that was not the case before. You cannot ignore that even people in Israel are saying you have to deal with the right of Palestinians to a state. When I was in Israel, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres was one of those who encouraged me to talk to Arafat, that he considered Arafat someone he could talk to. Arafat called Peres when I met with him, his partner in peace. They both won a Nobel Peace Prize together. I think there are those, particularly in this country, that are inciting a lot more of a situation that is detrimental than inspiring a level playing field that could lead to a peaceful resolution to this.” (Source: Arab American Institute)