Erez, 15 December, 1998
The following statements were made by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister at a press conference which took place at Erez, at the conclusion of the Israel-Palestinian-US summit meeting this morning (15 December, 1998):
1. Prime Minister Netanyahu:
Peace without violence. A peace of this kind is possible only if the two parties carry out the agreements in full, together with all their clauses. I stress, all their clauses.
We have fulfilled our part, as contained in the first phase of the Wye Agreement. We handed over territory, facilitated the opening of the airport in Dahaniye, release hundreds of inmates, and facilitated the opening of the Karni industrial park, where we have invested many millions in funding.
It is now important that the Palestinians carry out their part in full. Yesterday they took a positive step, they abrogated the Palestinian Covenant which called for the destruction of Israel, through a vote of the members of the PNC. I would remind you that almost until yesterday, and certainly until the day before that, we were told that this is an impossibility, that not enough delegates would come, and that they certainly wouldn't raise their hands, and wouldn't take a vote. They did so primarily because we were adamant that this condition of the agreements be carried out. I also appreciate and thank President Clinton for the assistance he extended to us regarding this justified demand to comply with the obligations of the Wye accord.
By the exact same standard, we are adamant that the Palestinians carry out the rest of their obligations:
- - that they collect, in an appropriate fashion, the illegal weapons;
- that they cease the incitement to violence and end the violence;
- that they act in accordance with our agreement in Wye on the issue of prisoners;
- that they distance themselves from the intention of unilaterally declaring a Palestinian state, along with the unilateral declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state. This violates all of the peace agreements, from Camp David, through Oslo, to Wye;
- that they fulfill these undertakings and the rest of their undertakings.
I must state that just as they will do this, we will do that which is incumbent upon us. The sooner they do so, the faster we will be able to proceed to move forward with the agreement.
I believe that, as was proven yesterday, standing firm on the fulfillment of obligations is the only way to bring security and peace to our land and our country. We will stick to this path until the task has been completed.
2. Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon:
Israel has chosen the path of peace. All Israeli governments throughout the years have made efforts to reach peace. The government led by Benjamin Netanyahu is also taking the path of peace, with a very clear emphasis - we want to continue on this path, and to implement the decisions taken at the Wye conference, yet everything is dependant upon the fulfillment of obligations by the Palestinians - the complete fulfillment. If the Palestinians will carry out their part, we will certainly carry out our part. This has been made clear.
We definitely thank President Clinton, the Secretary of State and their staff of advisors, for the great efforts that they have made. We reiterated that we are continuing on the path of peace, and everything is dependant upon full reciprocity. This is our approach, and this is the only approach which can assure that there will indeed be peace with full security.
In the framework of the issues raised, the Prime Minister explained the positions, the main points that he has mentioned. I stressed a number of points. One point was the issue of illegal weapons, not only those that are in the possession of civilians, and there are. I particularly stressed the stores of illegal weapons in the possession of the Palestinian Authority in violation of the agreement. And if one can understand that it is difficult to collect weapons hidden by civilians, sometimes for many years, it is no problem for the Palestinian Authority, if it has the desire to do so, to hand over the immense stores of weapons which it holds in violation of the agreement. I won't give the entire list, but we're talking about thousands of pistols, thousands of assault rifles and sub-machine guns, machine guns, very large stores of ammunition, thousands of illegally held hand grenades, a number of mortars, thousands of landmines - which is something that is even difficult to explain why they are collecting - thousands of kilograms of explosives, hundreds of anti-tank grenade launchers and not insignificant numbers of RPG and LAW anti-tank weapons.
There is no justification whatsoever for these items not being turned over immediately, as agreed, to the American representatives, to be removed from the area of the Authority, and destroyed. This is one of the clauses of the agreement.
I won't stress everything, but I wish to emphasize one more point. I stated very adamantly - and there was, by the way, an adamant stance taken by the entire staff of the Prime Minister on the issues - I stressed the need to immediately arrest the murderers that are serving in the Palestinian forces. Among them are commanders who are still serving there, while their victims stand helplessly by and witness this horrible thing.
I also raised the incident that cause a deep shock in Israel, and I added to me as well - this being the comparison of the children of the victims with the children of those that carried out the murders. Yes, both are children, the children always suffer, but it is impossible to make any comparison between children who have the hope of seeing their fathers, the children of those that carried out the murders, with children who have no chance in the world of seeing their parents who were most brutally murdered and now buried. This comparison was definitely a very harsh one. I made clear to the President that it caused very deep shock in Israel.
A number of other issues were raised that, I believe, all have solutions. I stated that we have no problem with continuing the discussions for which I am responsible, the discussions regarding the permanent status arrangements. This does not mean to renew discussions, but rather to continue discussions, since we are in constant contact.
I believe that we were able to clarify our position, and in particular the adamant stance of Israel on the one hand to continue the peace process, which we want, while on the other hand standing firm and without compromise with regard to the fulfillment of obligations on the part of the Palestinians. That is how things will be done, and the faster it will be done, the faster we will do our part.