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CHRIS UHLMANN: But can you live next to each other? We've just seen the war in Gaza and has that done real damage to Israel's international standing?
HILIK BAR: Yeah, but not all the Palestinians are Hamas. I remind you that President Abbas and other factions in the Palestinian politic recognise Israel trying to negotiate with us. I prove - I also remind you that Israel made peace with much larger enemies than the Palestinians before with Egypt and with Jordan and we proved ourself that we can live peacefully in our region.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Is the collective punishment though of people in Gaza self-defeating for Israel?
HILIK BAR: It's not a collective punishment. I know the idea from a captain in the Israel IDF. The IDF is defending Israel. Its aim is not to hurt innocent civilians. Actually, this is the aim of Hamas, who is shooting thousands of missiles on innocent Israeli civilians. But there is casualties of war and we're all very, very sad for it, but when you have a terror organisation that shoot missiles from school, from UN facilities, from UNRWA facilities, from mosque. They have no other mean but to try and hurt their own citizens in order for the world to see that Israel is hurting innocent civilians. But Israeli is committed to defence our citizens and allow them to have a blue sky, free of rockets, like you have here in Australia.
CHRIS UHLMANN: On Sunday, Israel laid claim to nearly 400 hectares of West Bank land. How will building more settlements bring about peace?
HILIK BAR: I agree with you, it's a very poor decision. I think that the future of this territory should be decided upon a two-state solution between us and the Palestinians. We in the Labor Party, in the opposition to Netanyahu, are against any unilateral annexation. It think it's bad for Israel, it's bad for building trust between us and the Palestinians and we in the Israeli Labor Party will object this annexation of 400 hectares if it will come to the Knesset and we'll try to fight this poor decision in every win we will have.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Should Israel embrace the Arab Peace Initiative and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as a partner for peace?
HILIK BAR: Definitely, yes. As for the Arab Peace Initiative, I think one of the poorest and the wrong mistake that Israel ever did diplomatically is not reply to the Arab Peace Initiative. We can say yes, we can say no and we can say yes, but we won't change this and that, but not replying for 12 year to the Arab Peace Initiative is not something that we can and should allow ourself. By the way, if I was Prime Minister, I wouldn't say a total yes to the Arab Peace Initiative. It's have a lot of problems as for Israel. But when 57 countries, Muslim countries, and 22 Arab countries coming to Israel and make an offer, Israel should reply.
As for President Mahmoud Abbas, he's not a perfect partner, but you will never find a perfect partner when you are talking about an enemy and Israel is now making the perfect the enemy of the good. Abbas is a good partner, he's a fair partner, more than Yasser Arafat that was before him and definitely I can bet more than the future leadership that the Palestinians are planning for Israel. And this is why we should strengthen Abbas at the expense of the Hamas, see him as our partner and go to a long way of negotiation with him as soon as possible.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Are there extremists on both sides of the Israel-Palestinian divide that don't want to see peace?
HILIK BAR: Yeah, absolutely. There is an extreme right-wing in Israel that I cannot say that he don't want to see peace, but he's not willing to pay the necessary price and to make the necessary concessions in order to have future Palestinian states, which mean that he don't really promote peace. There is a lot of extremists in the Palestinian side, not only Hamas, but also other, but I can promise you that the majority of Israelis and the majority of the Palestinians are totally for a two-state solution and understand that a two-state solution is the only viable and acceptable solution between us and the Palestinian. No other solution, definitely not the one-state solution, will happen or we will allow it.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Hilik Bar, thank you.
HILIK BAR: Thank you so much.